International Admissions

Academy of Art University welcomes students from all around the world—in San Francisco and online! In fact, 36% of our current students hail from 115 countries worldwide and attend the Academy to take advantage of our unique offerings. Online or on-site, our students near and far learn in a comprehensive and versatile learning environment from a faculty of working professionals.

Top Ranked Art & Design School in America

Academy of Art University has been ranked as one of the best art and design schools in various fields of study. From the game design school to the School of Illustration and beyond, here are a few of our most recent rankings.

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School of Game Development

Rookie of the Year

LiGang Zheng, a student at School of Game Development, won “Rookie of the Year” in the Digital Illustration bracket at the prestigious Rookie Awards — topping 25 category finalists from other schools around the world. Explore his story about leaving his home country of China to learn from the best at the Academy.

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Learn Art & Design Online or On-campus

Academy of Art University offers accredited art and design courses in three ways: 100% online, virtual onsite, and on-campus in San Francisco. As an early pioneer in online education, our online programs are designed to provide the same quality of education as what we offer on-campus students, but with greater flexibility. You can take classes online from your home country first, then switch to the on-campus program to finish your degree program, and vice versa.

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Learning Art & Design in English

Studying abroad is a big challenge, especially if English is your second language. Academy of Art University offers The English for Art Purpose (EAP) Program, which empowers international students to develop the English, cultural, and independent learning skills necessary for success in their Academy of Art University classes. Acquiring language skills while developing your expertise in art and design is the best way to make the most out of your study abroad.

How We Support Our English Learners

The EAP program at Academy of Art University has been a leader in the field of content-based language teaching for over 25 years. Nationally, it was among the first universities to integrate major-specific language into English language teaching. Also, the EAP curriculum is authored by our own faculty and tailored specifically for the language needed in students’ majors in the school.

English for Art Purpose Classes

English for Art Purposes (EAP) classes are designed to get your art and design education started as soon as possible. You’ll learn to express yourself clearly in critiques, understand lectures, improve your reading skills and vocabulary, and write papers for class assignments — all with the support and guidance of Academy of Art University’s ESL (English as a Second Language) instructors and staff.

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Speaking Lab & Writing Lab

Speaking Lab In Speaking Lab, we offer both one-on-one and group practice opportunities to improve your English speaking skills. You can also join a conversation group to practice everyday English-speaking skills with other students and a tutor. Writing Lab will help you improve your writing skills and assist you on your assignments. Our tutors provide support as you work to enhance your composing, organizing, and editing skills.

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EAP Work Group

ESL Study Groups Students enrolled in EAP courses can work together on language-learning assignments with the help of a tutor and technology in our EAP Work Group. Support is provided on grammar, writing, preparing presentations and interviews, vocabulary building, reading and study skills, and EAP homework assignments. Learn with your international peers in a supportive and inspiring group environment.

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“Although classes are completely taught in English, I can fully understand the content of the courses. Because each instructional video is equipped with subtitles, and these videos can be watched repeatedly.” —Hao Yun

Why does accreditation matter? – The quality of education is assured

Academy of Art University is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Getting an education from an accredited school is important because:

  • Accreditations ensure that you will receive quality education
  • Our reputation for excellence will bolster your resume
  • Our curriculum is relevant & up-to-date in the industry
  • You’ll receive the skills and knowledge to compete at the highest levels

Academy of Art University believes in fostering the next generation of artists and designers. By seeking regional and professional accreditation, we ensure our students a learning environment defined by our hands-on curriculum and informed by current professional practices. We have earned our accreditation by demonstrating excellence across all aspects of our university, and we will continue to do so as standards are periodically reaffirmed by site visits of professionals from our accreditors.

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Getting started

We pay special attention to the success of our international students, to ensure you have the support you need from the application process through graduation.

Are you ready to apply?

Request Info     Apply Now

Our international admissions team is here to help answer any questions you may have. Contact or +1-415-274-2208.

“The dedication from various departments like Student Services and Online Help Desk made it easy to surf through the whole online system. From the first module, it felt no different from being in an on-site class. There are live meetings at least twice a week with the instructors and they answer all the questions even though mails and posts. I get notes from my instructors on each assignment and they make sure that they help me to get better in every module. Academy of Art University makes sure the students don’t feel left alone and so the student advisors keep personal contact with me” —Devashree Jhaveri

Special Instructions for International Applicants

While your instructors, curricula, and opportunities earned from attending the Academy will all be of the same great, creative caliber as with your local counterparts, you as an international applicant should note the following foreign-specific information.

Language Requirements

Duolingo English Assessment All international students are required to take the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Assessment before attending classes at the university. If you choose to take Duolingo, then you need to start an account with Duolingo, practice and take the test, and request your best score to be sent to our university. All scores/results must be received by the university two weeks before the start of the semester. Step 1: Contact for your AAU ID Number before taking the test. Step 2: Submit your score to Academy of Art University through Duolingo web site by clicking the “Send Score” button on your test results.

What to expect after completing the application (On-site students only)

International applicants who plan to study on-site (our campus in San Francisco) will receive information detailing the student visa application process once you’re offered admission to Academy of Art University. Here is the overview of the journey ahead of you after you complete the application process.

Step 1: When you receive your I-20
  • Make sure your personal and program information on the first page of your I-20 is correct. Any correction must be reported to your advisor immediately—we’ll make the correction and mail you a new one.
  • Print your name, sign, and date the I-20 on the bottom of page one.
  • There are strict regulations to which you agree when you sign the I-20 and enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. Read these regulations on page 2 of your I-20 carefully—you are responsible for knowing them.
  • Send an email to your advisor to confirm you received your I-20.
Step 2: Pay the Sevis I-901 Fee (must be paid within 30 days from the day you receive the I-20)
  • You are required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee of $350 by mail or over the Internet. Please see the SEVIS I-901 Fee instructions in the I-20 package. Academy of Art School Code is SFR 214F 00500000
  • Your SEVIS ID number can be found on page one of your I-20 (upper right corner).
Step 3: Obtain an F-1 Student Visa
  • To apply for an F-1 Student Visa, contact the U.S Embassy/Consulate in your home country for details. Some U.S. Embassies/Consulates will accept your visa application at any time, while others will require you to make an appointment in advance, so be sure you plan ahead. It can take more than a month to process a student visa.
  • If you are from a country that is participating in the visa waiver program, Do not enter the U.S. on a visa waiver—you must apply for an F-1 Student Visa. After you’ve obtained your F-1 visa you are required to send an email to let your advisor know.

Class Registration

You can register for your classes after receiving your F-1 student visa and speaking with your advisor. After class registration is completed, you can log on to Student Self Service to:

  • View your class schedule
  • Sign the Enrollment Agreement (mandatory)
  • Make tuition payments
  • Submit your U.S. address and phone number, if you have them
  • Choose your own room assignment after you’ve applied for on campus housing.

Note: If you have not received your username and password, please contact your advisor. • After you receive your F-1 Student Visa, book your flight to San Francisco (SFO). You can enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the I-20 program start date.

Step 4: Book your flight

Purchase your plane ticket.

Step 5: Email your arrival date and time to your Admissions Specialist

Email or call our Admissions Office to speak to a Specialist

Get help with travel, visa and immigration, employment eligibility, and maintaining F-1 status at the International Student Office.

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Mailing Address

Academy of Art University Attn: International Admissions 79 New Montgomery St. San Francisco, CA 94105

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