A Career-Centered Curriculum

Academy of Art University is a professional school. Our curriculum is practice-based and career-centered, which means you learn by doing what you’ll do in your future profession.

Whether you choose to study online, on campus (onsite), or a hybrid of both, you’ll have opportunities to gain the skills and experiences that will help you enter your profession in full stride.

Earning an accredited degree at the Academy includes opportunities to work with industry professionals, hours of on-air radio time, credits on hit movies and video games, kudos for work on national ad campaigns, and more.

What Makes the Academy Unique?

Many universities define their “curriculum” as the courses students need to take to get their degree. The Academy’s curriculum is different. Here’s how:

  • You learn by doing with hands-on coursework developed by working professionals
  • Foundations courses build up your artistic skills and prepare you for the future
  • You’ll practice your craft on the same equipment, software, and tools the pros use
  • Work elbow-to-elbow with professionals on actual projects for actual clients
  • Get portfolio tips from Academy alum and industry insiders
  • Show your work to the world at events like NYFW, Ideate, NXTUP fest, and more

Career-Centered Courses

When it comes your education, it’s important that aspiring artists and designers have flexible options. Depending on your learning style, you can choose to take your classes, onsite in San Francisco, online (offered in 7.5 and 15 week formats), or on Zoom. Here’s a small sampling of some of the courses you can choose from.

ADV 367 — Art of Presentation

Learn to present like a pro through real-life scenarios and role-playing. You’ll get hands-on experience presenting ideas, campaigns, and portfolios to real employers and clients. You’ll also begin to build up a network of industry contacts.

PH 802 — DS Mentorship Forum

You’ll have the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with a mentor who is a professional working in the photography industry. You’ll get guidance, insights, and critiques from your mentor to help you refine your thesis concepts and set personal goals for work.

ACT 468 — Audition Process: From Cold Readings to Callbacks

Get tips from working casting agents to help you nail the audition and get the role. You’ll learn cold reading techniques and interview preparation skills to increase your odds when auditioning for film, television, voiceovers, industrials, print work, and web dramas.

COM 604 — On-Camera Performance for Multiplatform Media

Industry insiders will coach you in voice and movement to draw out your personality and instill professional performance and directing skills. You’ll use live streaming, social networks, and mobile communications to acquire new techniques for engaging an audience.

MUS 498G — Sound Design for Game Studio

Collaborating with industry professionals from the game industry, you’ll explore methods and techniques to produce professional soundtracks focusing on scoring, sound design, library research, and asset gathering.

FSH 411 — Wearable Technology

Collaborate with professionals from the tech industry to design a new wearable device for your portfolio. Plus, gain an insider’s view on the production, marketing, and distribution of wearable tech.

LAN 398 — Community Design Studio

Landscape architects are creative problem solvers. As part of a collaborative team, you’ll work closely with a real client to analyze a site, identify its unique challenges, and propose a creative and sustainable design solution.

GR 435 — Typography in Motion

Adding motion to typography opens a world of design possibilities. This class will be taught by outstanding practitioners in this field. You’ll collaborate with industry professionals, along with fellow students from the schools of Animation, New Media, and Graphic Design to increase your digital motion skills.

A Course for Change: Design Build Studio

Using urban San Francisco as their classroom, students from the School of Architecture get to participate in seeing their designs for non-profit clients actually get built. Students taking Architecture 498 work collaboratively, putting their skills to the test to engage real clients and communities, investigate real sites, and propose and build a gathering place for a grateful local community.

Which area of study fits your interests?

Available Online and Onsite

Learn More
The Cold Readings to Callbacks class was one of the best classes I had. Sarah, our instructor, is a casting director in San Francisco and she would work with us in and out of the classroom. She’s helped me a lot.

Zach Eulberg / BFA School of Acting

What Does “Industry-Based” Mean?

“Industry” is the field or profession you plan to go into. For example, you may want to work in the fashion industry, or video game industry. With an industry-based education you learn the specific skills you’ll be using on the job.

Facilities & Technology

One important aspect of our curriculum is our facilities, which are stocked with the latest technology, software, and equipment. Keeping up with current advancements in technology and industry practices is essential to preparing you to enter the workforce.

Whatever the pros are doing and whatever the pros are using is what you will find in our classrooms and studios.

Computer Labs

Our custom-built computer labs are fully staffed and equipped with the latest software, including Adobe Creative Suite, which is free to all students. With the largest facility on the west coast, our MacLab offers the latest digital workstations, software, and new media technology.

  • eSport Lounge
  • Custom Built Digital Storms High-Performance Workstations
  • iMac Workstations for iOS development
  • Cintiq Monitors
  • Usability lab
  • Mac workstations with Final Cut Pro for input and output.eSport Lounge

Lights, cameras, action! Experience the excitement of working both behind and in front of the camera on our five professional quality sound stages, performance spaces, sound stages, voice-over booths, broadcast studios, and one of the largest green screens in Northern California—all fully equipped with industry-standard equipment.

  • Sound booth
  • A green screen studio
  • VR (Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Equipment: 3 Oculus Rift DK2/ 1 Oculus Rift DK1)
  • Plotting room
  • Large format scanning and printing facilities
  • Sculpture center
  • Pattern making studio
  • Printmaking studio

Academy of Art University is the first university in California, and the second company in California other than Skywalker Sound, to own the flagship mixing console, the Avid S6. With the Avid S6, music students get hands-on experience with the flagship mixing console.

Production & Printing

Our onsite large format scanning and printing facilities allow students to create professional level graphic presentations. A control room for production and high-end transfers, along with Cintiq tablets, scanners, a large format printer, and other filming equipment are also available.

  • Four large-format laser cutters
  • Stratasys resin printing machines
  • Zcorp powder printing machines
  • FDM lab perfect for quick, iterative prints
  • Rapid prototyping labs, which will enable you to complete your projects in house.
  • Advanced digital fabrication equipment
  • Laser cutters, 3D printers, and CNC routers


Students from all disciplines learn to use the latest professional equipment required to complete projects in myriad different media.

  • vacuum forming
  • plastic sheet fabrication
  • fiberglass and composite fabrication
  • sanding and buffing stations
  • rubber-mold making
  • plastic casting
  • sandblasting
  • spray-painting
  • plaster fabrication
  • 3D printers
  • CNC routers

We also feature a well-stocked tool and equipment checkout area and a retail material sales area, making it easy to finish projects without driving to home supply centers.


Our fully equipped woodshop and metal shop facilities are staffed by qualified shop technicians that support students in realizing a wide array of projects: from an intricate architectural model, to a custom furniture piece, or even larger installations.

  • full array of hand tools, SawStop table saws, drill presses, and a host of other tools
  • a custom-built negative pressure spray booth large enough to hold a full-sized automobile
  • a 20-ton hydraulic press
  • metal lathes and mills
  • enameling kilns
  • engraver’s blocks for stone setting
  • lost wax casting (centrifugal and vacuum)
  • welding
  • LED electronics
  • A 3D printing studio

Robotics Lab

Robot technology is rapidly advancing with applications in a number of disciplines. Architecture students take advantage of the robotics lab to conduct hands-on research exploring emerging methods of representation and fabrication within architecture and design.


Onsite & Online Library

All students—onsite, online, and off campus—have full remote access to a well-curated collection of over 40,000 print and electronic volumes.

  • architecture and interior architecture resources
  • business and company information
  • fashion resources, a music database, guest speaker video database, MLA citation guide, research guides created by our librarians for each major at the Academy
  • full text e-books, magazines, journals, annual collections, course reserves, magazines, master’s thesis projects, movies, special collections, digital images, and other online resources
Materials Library

In addition to the main Academy of Art University Library, our on-campus materials library gives students access to the latest material samples, furniture information, and catalogs supplied by local architects, designers, and showrooms.

The Library has a long-standing reputation for being a 'no-shush' zone. Our student artists and designers are encouraged to work together in a vibrant atmosphere where they can conduct visual research, collaborate, learn, and create.

Enrollment is Now Open

Change your future today.

Request Info
Academy of Art University Search Search Previous Next Previous Next Next Next Chat Quote Facebook Google Plus Instagram Pinterest Twitter YouTube LinkedIn TikTok WeHeartIt Download App Close