Academy of Art University
The Academy of Art University (formerly Academy of Art College), a for-profit university owned by the Stephens Institute, was founded in San Francisco, California in 1929 by Richard S. Stephens. With an enrollment of over 17,000 students, the academy is reportedly the largest art and design school in the United States.
In 1929, the Academy of Art University was established in San Francisco as the Academy of Art Advertising by Richard S. Stephens, a fine arts painter and the creative director for Sunset. Assisted by his wife, Clara Stephens, Stephens opened the new school in a rented loft at 215 Kearny Street to teach advertising art. Stephens' son, Richard A. Stephens, took over direction of the school after graduating from Stanford University in 1951. During the son's tenure, the academy expanded its enrollment from 50 to 5,200 students.
The Academy of Art University offers both on-campus (traditional instructor-led) and distance education (online) degrees and certificate programs in its fine arts programs. The university offers Associate of Arts (AA), Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) for undergraduate degree programs, Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Architecture (M.Arch) for graduate degree programs, and certificate programs for personal enrichment. The Academy of Art University offers degree and certificate programs in 18 majors.
The Academy of Art University began its athletic program in 2008 and soon after applied to join the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II, it became a member of the Pacific West Conference in 2009 and currently fields 14 men’s and women’s teams.