Huffington Post recently posted an article about the 21st annual fashion showcase of the Academy of Art University. As befits a webpage reporting a fashion showcase, the majority of the Huffington Post’s article is taken up by full-length photo portraits of models. Each photograph is accompanied by the name of the artist, the source of the materials used, and the awards each artist has achieved in their career.
As much as “Academy of Art University” is a dubious name in an age of for-profit colleges and internet banner ads, the university is a reputable and long-standing institution. It was founded in 1929 by Richard S. Stevens as the Academy of Advertising Art, and it is an accredited member of the National Association of School of Art and Design.
The academy started out quite small — 45 students in a rented loft. It has undergone two periods of rapid expansion, growing from 250 to 5,000 students in the 1970s and from 2,000 students to 18,000 in the early 21st century. Currently it is one of the largest property owners in San Francisco, and has one of the largest and most valuable collections of antique cars in the world in its Automobile museum. Recently the academy got in some hot water for converting rent-controlled housing to academic use; they agreed to pay a fine of $20M to the city of San Francisco.
The academy has a tuition of about $26,000 and an acceptance rate of 100%, with about 12,000 current students, 8000 of them undergraduate. They offer associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in 30 areas of study, including architecture, fashion, animation, recording arts, and advertising. The retention rate for first-year undergraduates is 70% and the graduation rate for fourth-year students is 37%. The graduation rate for 6-year students is also 37%. The graduation rate for 8-year students is also 37%.