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  1. #1
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    Academy of Art University Online

    I am looking to get my MFA in Graphic design. I need the flexibility of an online program, as my husbands job does not allow me to relocate for school. I already have a bachelors in Computer Science/ Multimedia design from Pepperdine University, and want to continue on the path of Graphic Design. I have seen TONS of good and bad things said about this school, but a lot of the negative comments come from 2007-2010. I am curious if there are any students CURRENTLY enrolled or RECENTLY graduated from this school (online or not) that have some input.
    I looked into, and actually applied to SCAD's online program for this degree, but unfortunately was not accepted. There have been a lot of comments about their open enrollment being a bad thing, but it would help give me the chance another school wasn't willing to give me, and I expect that the classes will be challenging and time demanding. I am not looking for a free ride degree. I want to actually learn more and grow as a designer.
    But I digress. Any and ALL information people can provide as to if this is a good place to go would be helpful.
    As a note, many have complained about the advisers and financial aid. I am pretty OCD and would not leave all the details of classes I need to take or ensuring everything is covered money wise to someone else to handle for me without ensuring from many avenues that everything was truly in line.

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  3. #2
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    I'l try to do what I can.

    I hope my input is beneficial to some level because I'm only an undergrad student right now. I'm currently a Sophomore level Illustration major at AAU. I attend On Campus as of this semester but was an Online student my previous 3 semesters. So for undergrad I can compare the Online to the OnCampus.

    I attended community college to knock out my Liberal Arts classes before I looked for an artschool (I was looking at SCAD,RCAD,ArtCenter,and AAU of course). I did a shit TON of research on them, and even after enrolling into AAU in Fall 2010, I still continued to learn about it from former students. So I've probably heard everything you know about it.

    Note: I'm the kind of person who tries to judge things objectively and keep things "real".

    I think like most people, at the beginning I really questioned what the quality of education would be taking Art/design education Online...because I mean it is art after all. I mean it wasn't until these last few years that Online schools started popping up.Heck I was pretty surprised to even learn that that a major art school was offering an entire education online. I thought AAU was the only one, but last semester a former community college art pal started taking online SCAD classes.
    AAU if anything, is known for having a good Illustration program, I know about certain other programs. But unfortunately, I don't know much about the Graphic Design department. have to say that I think AAU's Online program is good. Sure AAU has Open Enrollment policy, I wouldn't argue that's such a bad thing, both sides benefit from that. I mean they're giving people an opportunity to pursue their interest and ambitions that they probably wouldn't have at other art schools. And what's wrong with them making money off of all the people that enroll and drop out in their first year? I mean quite frankly ALL schools/ post-high school education institutions are ultimately a business. The only difference between private and public is that the latter is subsidized by the government. But even with open enrollment, AAU's Foundation Year it is definitely not by any means easy. They do grade by professional/industry standards, and of course equally it is no different for Online students based on my experience. I really enjoyed the amount of information you get from each module (tbh I miss that now that i'm an OnCampus student). The instructors.. most are working professionals or at least have some good years of experience out in their respective field. Like all schools though, there are good, great and crappy teachers. I highly recommend that regardless of what Online school you chose to attend, also use RatemyProfessors.com to check the quality of your teacher. When I was an Online student, I always made sure to find the best rated teachers who ALSO had a low rating for "Easiness". I mean with how expensive art/design school education is. You might as well get your biggest bang for your buck by getting those instructors who will force you to go beyond your limits.
    Of course one of the biggest cons that will probably always be there is that with all online classes, the lack of physical social interaction sucks. Of course due to the nature of the classes being taken online from where ever you live. Most people tend to comment and socialize online the minimum that is required (in the forums/discussion boards where work is turned in and people discuss required topics.) since they already have their offline/real life friends in far closer proximity. This may be a different with Graduate students since on average many of you already have years (undergrad) pursuing and Networking for your career ambitions.




    Hahaha the advisers here at AAU.. yeah they're pretty much universally complained about. My roommate is a student uh.. leader type person that helps operate orientations, events and all that stuff. She gave me an answer as to why that is what it is/ AAU pretty much hires students and people who graduated, to fill in the advisory spots. Supposedly they don't really get any kind of training (there isn't from what I understand) to help them better understand (insert majors), that's why you hear that the advisers are fairly clueless and what not. But at the same time, i'm pretty damn sure most people don't make the effort to do some research on their career/ ambitions and what kind of classes would benefit them towards their interest. I mean I figure out my entire curriculum by my second semester because I put in the time learn what is expected of me as a future professional illustrator and concept artist. Overall I do have to say that one of the biggest criticisms for AAU is that that the administrative structure disorganized and certainly needs improvement. I can't say I've had much trouble with dealing with Financial Aid.

    Yeah of course the tuition continues to go up we'll all unhappy about that. But pff, this is one of the cheapest of the major art schools here in the US. Though unfortunately with the curriculum at this school, it is impossible to graduate in 4 years if you take 4 classes per semester. AAU will probably take 5-5 1/2 years. But then again, I personally don't care about getting my degree, an art degree is quite frankly pretty useless. It's all about the porftolio of course (with the exception of that top tier companies like Disney, Pixar, ILM are some of the few entertainment related companies that do require degrees, I suppose that's just formality).

    I'm not really sure what more to say that this point. Sorry if I sound like i'm going off on tangents or rambling. I just got out of a 6 hour class so I'm a bit poop'd. If you have any specific questions in mind then please ask away.

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  4. #3
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    Studying art online is totally possible...just not with half baked programs serving their students with pdf tutorials and communicating via email or skype only.

    I run www.theartdepartment.org and you can see the first and second semester student work at www.theartdepartment.org/gallery

    There are more demonstrations at TAD than any other art program anywhere. The faculty here are second to none, and the student work speaks for itself. About half the third semester entertainment 2d students were working professionally by their sophomore year.

    An interesting thing happened when we tried to submit our students work to the Society of Illustrators scholarship competition for students. Since TAD was not accredited, we had to submit to the professionals competition. TAD's first three graduates then swept the professionals awards taking home the Gold, Silver and best of other category awards...the top awards in the field.

    Anyone saying online does not work is not going to TAD. The price of the other online schools is obscene as well. Ask the TAD students what they think. You will get your answers there easily. The TAD forums atop conceptart.org will have more info.

    Best and thanks,


    Jason Manley

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  5. #4
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    For example...take a look at who is visiting TAD this semester for the Greenlight Summit. No other art school has anything like this.

    Here is a partial list of the 100 speakers and instructors who will be at the Greenlight Summit on May 21-25. Be sure to check out the other threads for more info! http://conceptart.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=235


    JOHN STEVENSON: CO-DIRECTOR- KUNG FU PANDA
    ALEXANDER SEROPIAN: FOUNDER- BUNGIE and WIDELOAD GAMES, FORMER PRESIDENT, DISNEY INTERACTIVE
    JEFF BRAUN: FOUNDER OF MAXIS and FORMER PRESIDENT OF EA
    CAREEN YAP:VP of LICENSING AND BIZ DEV - KONAMI
    JAY DEE ALLEY: DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT DEV.- CAPCOM
    JASON MANLEY: FOUNDER- CONCEPTART.ORG,TAD,BRILLIANT COLORS
    KEITH BOESKY: PRESIDENT OF BOESKY AND COMPANY
    LORNE LANNING: CO-FOUNDER- ODDWORLD
    SHERRY MCKENNA-CO-FOUNDER- ODDWORLD
    MEGAN GAISER: CHIEF CREATIVE STRATEGY OFFICER-HER INTERACTIVE
    HEATHER HAZEL: SENIOR PRODUCER- POPCAP GAMES
    CHRIS AVELLONE: LEAD DESIGNER/OWNER- OBSIDIAN ENTERTAINMENT
    J.E. SAWYER: LEAD DESIGNER-OBSIDIAN ENTERTAINMENT
    STEVE BOKKES: LEAD DESIGNER- SONY ONLINE
    JOSEPH OLIN-FORMER PRES. ACAD OF INTERACTIVE ARTS AND SCIENCES
    JOHN ENGLISH: FOUNDER/EDUCATOR- TAD/ILLUSTRATION ACADEMY
    BILL DUGGAN: AUTHOR- STRATEGIC INTUITION
    JOSEE LALUMIERE: GM NEWBREED VFX
    RON LEMEN- ARTIST/EDUCATOR- THE ART DEPARMENT
    MARIO WYNANDS: FOUNDER- SIDHE INTERACTIVE
    MARSHALL VANDRUFF: EDUCATOR- THE ART DEPARTMENT
    JEFFREY T. MAKOFF: SENIOR PARTNER- VALLE-MAKOFF LLP.
    JEFFREY ROSE Esq. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ATTORNEY
    ODED PALLED: CEO- ROCKET NINJA
    MILES THOMPSON: MEDIA PUBLISHER
    RAJESH RAO: CEO, DHRUVA INTERACTIVE
    STERLING HUNDLEY: AWARD WINNING ILLUSTRATOR- THE ART DEPARTMENT
    JASON DELLA ROCA-GAMES CONSULtANT=FORMER HEAD OF IGDA
    SEAN KAUPINNEN- CEO, IDEA- GAMES INDUSTRY BIZ DEV GURU
    TIM DONLEY: CREATIVE DIRECTOR- THQ/VIGIL GAMES
    BRIAN REID: FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR-OSIRIS
    JOHN SCHINDEHETTE: SENIOR ART DIRECTOR, WIZARDS OF THE COAST
    JANE RADSTROM AND DORIAN ITEN: FACULTY, THE ART DEPARTMENT
    JEFFREY CONRAD - PRESIDENT AND CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER - AMERICAN GREETINGS
    FREDRIK WESTER - CEO - PARADOX ENTERTAINMENT
    SIGGI KOEGL - GAMES INVESTOR- ATTACTION
    BRIAN SETH HURST- CEO- The OPPORTUNITY MANAGEMENT COMPANY - Board Of Governors at Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
    IAN GINN - FOUNDER- TRANSMEDIA LEARNING NETWORK/ STORY ARCHITECT - HUBBUB MEDIA
    C.F. PAYNE - AWARD WINNING ILLUSTRATOR and ARTIST
    GEORGE PRATT- AWARD WINNING GRAPHIC NOVELIST-FILMMAKER-ARTIST
    MAGDALENA DADELA - SENIOR CHARACTER ARTIST - UBISOFT
    ANDIE SIMON - SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF INTERACTIVE MEDIA - WARNER BROS.
    and many more to be announced!

    Early Registration Discounts are available. Get 300 dollars off if you register by March 15!

    Imagine a TED for the art and entertainment industry, specifically for our fields. Imagine being able to see greenlight pitches, keynotes, live and on demand talks, demonstrations and more...right from where you sit now. CA.O/TAD and Brilliant Colors are bringing them right into your room.

    See you soon.



    Jason Manley

    LEVEL UP! - ConceptArt.Org online workshops are on sale- Join now and get 25% off!
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    Jason, does TAD offer Master's programs?

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    xensoldier, thanks SO much for your input. Just as an overall impression then, is the school something that you would recommend to someone, assuming they are aware of its lack or office organization? really every school has its issues, that as long as you know what they are, one should be able to work around them.

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  8. #7
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    Is there a reason you want the Masters Degree? The document means literally nothing to the field, but for the purpose of teaching full time at a university.

    If it were me, I would focus on a program that will get you the best possible results, but everyone has their own goals and must do what is best for those dreams to be realized.

    LEVEL UP! - ConceptArt.Org online workshops are on sale- Join now and get 25% off!
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  9. #8
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    Starry, what Jason Manley is saying completely supersedes anything I say. He's an absolute authority when it comes to art education in the 21st century. Heck to be honest I feel honored that he came into this thread.

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    Jason - I was worried about what the cost of this event would be after seeing all those big names participating. But after seeing the early reg discount I'm definitely registering for it this week. I look forward to the Greenlight Summit .
    Also I should note I've known about TAD for a while now. So last year I attended the TAD: Explorer back in Nov 7th-11th. I remember you were at Massive Black Shanghai during the Entertainment Design meeting. Anyways I have to say that I am COMPLETELY sold on TAD being the true next-generation art education. While TAD is 1/3rd of the average cost of traditional artschools, as a 22 year old who comes from a rather poor background, the lack of federal financial aid options is the main hurdle. Though I do understand the legal reasoning for as to why that is. I don't suppose it is in talks with the government right now and could be possible in the near future? I'd certainly go to TAD if that ever happens.
    I know that at 22 i'm still pretty young and have plenty of time to do something like work full time for a few years to save up the money to attend TAD full time. But I find it really hard to like the idea of moving back to my home city of Dallas (specifically Irving), TX. Where in my networking I've come across but only a few fellow artist who have similar ambitions of trying to get into the professional art world.(Actually to be honest not even they are that serious or motivated.) I know there is Part-Time, but if I remember correctly, in Explorer it was stated that Part Time students are limited to 5 Foundation classes regardless if they already meet the expectations to "pass" them.
    This is why I continue to attend AAU. First as an Online student since Fall 2010, and finally moved to San Francisco this current semester. I wanted to attend personally and be surrounded by far more like-minded individuals.(Since Dallas is very dry when it comes to illustrative and entertainment design oriented artist). As much as I care for my better friends and family. I was the only one who was artistic and couldn't stand being Irving anymore.. Of course as you, Feng Zhu and many other professionals state, only doing the required school work is not enough. So I continue to spend a lot of my free time continuing to draw/paint/design. Gotta practice practice practice right!


    Starry- As with what I said to Jason about TAD:Explorer, I highly recommend you check it out for yourself. It is every bit worth the price. http://theartdepartment.org/communit...duction-to-tad.
    And as Jason said, the Masters degree is virtually useless in the professional art world. Don't even care about the need to receive some sort of "degree" from your art training. Truth be told, I don't care about finishing my BFA in Illustration (Concept Art+Visual Development) here at AAU. I just want to get the most out of art education, stay dedicated and do intense studying in hopes of being able to get professional freelance gigs or even a full time position at a entertainment based studio. Mastering the foundation skills and your design skills to develop a great portfolio is what truly matters. The Art Department is the #1 art education in my opinion as well, do it if you are in the position to do so! If not, then try their Visual Literacy program. I haven't tried it personally, but I've had a Gnomon Workshop subscription for 2 years now. But I have heard that they rival each other in quality.

    Last edited by xensoldier; March 5th, 2012 at 07:40 PM.
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