Academy of Art University in 2020: A Year in Review

The past year has held unique challenges that no one saw coming. But that didn’t slow down Academy of Art University’s incredible accomplishments in 2020. As a team, the school still managed to pull together to create a memorable and productive year for students. Academy of Art University students have leaped over hurdles no other class has had to face in prior years.

This has been a year of growth and opportunity for the Academy. Many of the changes due to the pandemic have increased remote learning resources in ways that will continue to prove invaluable well into the future.

Offering Online Education

Academy of Art University experienced a smooth transition from on-site to online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this is due to the hardworking staff who were willing to adapt as quickly as needed. With over 20 years of experience in offering art and design education online, the Academy was already well established with accredited online degrees.

The school provides opportunities for students in over 900 online courses and more than 1500 instructional videos every semester.

While many California colleges scrambled to make big changes to their infrastructures, tools, and coursework, Academy of Art University was already prepared with plenty of experience in offering successful online classes.

Displaying Hard Work and Talent for All

One of the most important parts of the year at Academy of Art is the student fashion show. From across 22 schools and over 75 creative disciplines, students show off the best of their work every season in the Spring Show. This includes work from every medium and style. While students work hard year-round on assignments for their classes, there is a definite push right before the show submissions that keep the campus buzzing.

For the first time, the Spring Show was moved completely online for 2020.

The Spring Show helps students build their portfolios and show off their talents for future careers in the fashion industry. Academy of Art University’s long-time relationships with business leaders and creative companies in the community help them to pair students with job opportunities after they graduate. The Spring Show is one of the best places to wow these potential employers and gains clout as an up-and-coming creative.

It’s also an inspiring show that students look forward to every year.

Staff created an online gallery that curates the students’ work into their respective categories. Hosting the Spring Show online enabled students to present their work to the industry professionals around the world—even to the people who might not be able to visit the Spring Show in person due to schedule or geographic constraints.

2020 Awards and Rankings

Academy of Art University has a long history of achieving high rankings and awards, and 2020 helped the school to land even more recognition as a top art school.

OnlineSchoolsReport named the Academy as one of the Top Online Bachelors in Game Design Degrees in America. The school earned fifth place on The Rookies list for Top Creative Media and Entertainment Schools in America and the top spot for Best Concept Art & Illustration School in America. Academy of Art University was also named Most Affordable Online Web Development Degrees in America by OnlineSchoolsReport.

But beyond just those awards, the Academy is also recognized for the quality education they provide by the awards that students and alumni receive:

Fashion Students Show off Physical Designs Online

Fashion graduates, Milijana Delic, Yanbing Fan, and Rashida Birdlong received awards and honorable mention for the 2020 CFDA Fashion Scholar Awards. Academy of Art University alumni were also selected as a part of the annual CFDA Fashion Future Graduate Showcase. The showcase features more than 100 recent graduate talents, 11 of which were recent Academy graduates, all of which demonstrating extraordinary resilience by entering a professional landscape with so many unknowns as the fashion world continues to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Architecture Students Win Big by Reimagining Structural Concepts

Three architecture students won the Unbuilt Category Awards at the AIASF Design Awards. Jang Ock Kim, M.Arch, Fan Pan, M.Arch, and Kenta Oye, B.Arch were able to showcase their game-changing architecture visualization and thesis projects. This included a zero-energy ferry transit center design, a structure for historical considerations and a project focused on repurposing streetscapes to reveal the Japanese immigrant community’s heritage in San Francisco.

Advertising Students Recognized for Moving Creative Campaigns

Advertising students scored Gold and Silver for four projects in the 2020 American Advertising Awards (ADDYs). This is a global creative competition that fields over 35,000 entries from local clubs. Local winners move on to regional competitions and eventually to nationals. Campaigns from students often reimagine national brands’ ads as a part of their normal commercial art coursework but could include projects done for clients, like during an internship. The four ADDYs earned for 2020 included the work of 13 students and alumni.

2020: A Year in Review

While 2020 brought challenges the likes of which the United States had never seen before, schools like Academy of Art University were uniquely positioned to not only survive the pandemic, but to thrive.

The school is entering 2021 with the excitement of getting back to the new normal that has been developed this past year. Despite the hurdles of switching to an entirely online and social distanced format, the Academy has shown that even COVID-19 doesn’t have to affect the quality of the educational opportunities on offer.


Article Editor

Pamela is a television journalist, humor writer and novelist. Her first novel, Allegedly, was released in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She and her husband, Daniel, have a 3-year-old son, Carter.

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