Academy of Art Earns Top School Rankings and Leads the Way in Applied Arts Education

A trusted beacon among the nation’s renowned institutions dedicated to training professionals in applied arts and technology, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco was recently ranked by the Rookies, a yearly international awards platform, as the Best Digital Illustration School in the United States. The Academy of Art University also ranked among the top 5 schools in the world for 3D Motion Graphics. The Rookies evaluated over 580 schools representing 87 different countries in order to arrive at its 2018 list of rankings of the Best Creative Media & Entertainment Schools in the world.

The Rookies Ranking Platform

The Rookies is a global organization founded in 2009 with sponsorship support from Autodesk, a multinational software company. Over its first decade of existence, the Rookies has evolved into one of the most respected and recognized school ranking systems in the world, with nearly 3,000 global entrants in 2018.
The Rookies adjudicating panel is comprised of over 60 prestigious and influential experts in the global media and entertainment industries. These include such luminaries as Rob Coleman, a two-time Oscar-nominated animator and Head of Animation at Animal Logic; Gino Acevedo, Creative Art Director at Weta Digital; and Joanna Popper, Global Head of Virtual Reality at HP, as well as many other leaders in the field who bring their expertise and experience to the panel.


The Rookies’ comprehensive methodology for ranking schools is based on the quality of student portfolios submitted by representative applicants from each school, which also shed light on each school’s recruitment and intake standards. Final scores are awarded to each academic facility based on the performance of each student representing the institution.


The strategy behind this approach is the belief that creative academic institutions must assist students in learning and applying the appropriate creative and technical skills that reflect actual industry requirements, and to train artists to navigate professional spaces, as well as professional standards and expectations.


Academy of Art Tops Rookie Rankings in Two Categories

The Academy of Art University topped the Rookies 2018 rankings in two categories:

  • 1st place in the United States, and 2nd place in the world for the Best Digital Illustration School, and
  • 4th place in the world for Best 3D Motion Graphics School

The Rookies website reported that Academy of Arts University had 14 student representatives competing for 20 individual awards, including Scholarship Finalists and Internship Finalists, representing the Academy of Art’s Schools of Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Game Development, Illustration, and Visual Development.


The highly-acclaimed “Rookie of the Year” award in the Digital Illustration category was also awarded to a student from Academy of Art University: LiGang Zheng, a Game Development student from the Academy, beat out 25 finalists from other institutions around the world to win this prestigious distinction.

Arts Education for the Age of Technology

In today’s highly evolved multidisciplinary environment, students require regular exposure to the reality of industry demands and challenges, and the constantly evolving standards set by the industry in response to technological breakthroughs and evolution. Arts institutions such as Academy of Art University have historically been very responsive to the ever-changing needs of emerging arts professionals, and its curriculum has over time evolved and expanded to reflect technological advances and updated industry standards to best serve creative careers.


The current emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education is also applicable to students in the Applied Arts. Given today’s technologically driven creative careers, one must consider that a successful educational foundation in the arts must include not only artistic considerations, but also the technological innovation to facilitate the realization of any creative vision.


Today’s optimal learning environment, such as that provided at Academy of Art, combines the contemporary focus on STEM with traditional Arts education to produce “STEAM” – a well-rounded approach to creative learning and real-life problem-solving strategies that engages multiple aspects of a student’s creativity. The STEAM approach to applied arts education provides students with an eclectic skill set that sets them up for further growth and expansion as the technological as well as creative demands of their chosen industry evolve in the future.

Current Career Options at Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California, has been one of the nation’s most acclaimed art academies since its founding in 1929. Known for its contribution to San Francisco’s vanguard of innovation and creativity, the Academy modified its curriculum in 1946 to include studies in such emerging careers as Cartooning, Fashion Illustration, Advertising & Commercial Art, and Lettering & Layout. In 1951 the school once again expanded its offerings to include Transportation Design.


Today, Academy of Art University continues to expand its offerings and creative approach to training top-of-the-line creative professionals to meet the demands of the booming arts and entertainment industry by means of degree programs that combine art and technology.


Among the many fields of study offered at Academy of Art University, you may choose from any of the following:


The BFA program at the School of Animation and Visual Effects provides courses that prepare and train professionals for the animation industry, developing the skills required to harness today’s digital technology.


The BA program at the School of Communications & Media Technologies prepares students for the ever-changing media industry, covering everything from broadcast to streaming, as well as mobile apps and social media. Students develop, write, shoot, edit, and present their own productions, employing the latest technologies on the market to stream and broadcast their projects.


The BFA program in Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media lets students turn their passion for music and sound into a lucrative career. Courses cover harmony, orchestration, composition, and scoring, in addition to sound design, editing, and mixing techniques. The curriculum emphasizes advanced music and sound production, music notation, film scoring, and sound for video games.


The School of Web Design & New Media offers a BFA program that prepares students for careers in the areas of experiential design and digital media, with a curriculum that emphasizes design strategies, user experience, visual communication, technology, visual design, web design, and motion graphics.


Other programs of study at Academy of the Arts University include the School of Visual Development, where art directors and set designers are trained, and the BFA program in Writing for Television, Film, and Digital Media, which prepares professional screenwriters for work in the Film and TV industries.


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