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The Art Institutes Review

The Art Institutes are a distributed system of accredited, nonprofit colleges that offers master's, bachelor's and associate degrees in creative and applied arts disciplines. Programs offered through the Art Institutes campuses take a career-focused approach to arts instruction, working to prepare aspiring culinary, design, fashion and media arts professionals for the practical and professional realities of their chosen fields.

As of 2015, 27 degree and diploma programs are available through the Online Division of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, with each individual campus location designing its own selection of degrees to meet the needs of regional students. Every school within the Art Institutes system also maintains a dedicated career services department, designed to provide support for students as they transition out of their education and into the working world.

Education Management Corporation, the parent company of the Art Institutes system, also operates South University and Argosy University. As such, degree programs listed under the Art Institutes banner in certain regions may include coursework and other campus-based activities that take place at locations affiliated with one of these other schools.


Admissions & Financial Aid

  • Total enrollment (2014): 61,070
  • Online enrollment (2013): 10,906
  • Steps to admission
    • Contact an Art Institutes admissions representative to discuss your educational goals
    • Complete the online admissions application and enrollment agreement on the school's website, providing contact information, educational history and employment background if applicable
    • Submit all requested forms, which vary by your chosen campus location and admissions status
  • Are there rolling admissions? Yes
  • Are transfers accepted year round? Yes

Financial Aid

  • Is this school eligible for federal financial aid (Title IV approved)? Yes
  • Does this school offer scholarships? Yes
  • What percentage of students receives financial aid (2012-13)?
    • Federal aid: 46 percent
    • Institutional aid: 54 percent
    • State aid: 24 percent
    • Student loans: 87 percent
Student Body Demographics
Sources: The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics. Demographic data covers all enrolled students, including those at any campus of the university or studying online.
Featured Programs

Although specific subjects and degree levels vary by campus location, programs of study offered by the Art Institutes cover a wide range of artistic and creative disciplines. Here are a few of the most popular degrees available from the Art Institutes system:

Graphic Design

The online campus of the Art Institutes system offers an Associate of Science (A.S.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in graphic design, and select brick-and-mortar campuses may offer Associate of Applied Arts (A.A.A.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) or other varieties. These styles of degree primarily differ in the type and number of general education courses that students must complete in order to graduate.

The Art Institutes graphic design curriculum typically takes a two-pronged approach to the discipline. Study plans include multiple subjects related to visual composition, such as observational drawing, color theory, graphic symbolism, communication design, typography and more, but also introduce students to vital workforce-relevant principles like corporate identity design, portfolio preparation and art direction.

Culinary Arts

Available most commonly as non-degree diplomas, Associate of Arts (A.A.) degrees or Associate of Applied Arts (A.A.A.) degrees, the culinary arts programs at the Art Institutes take a variety of approaches to teaching the fundamentals of cooking, baking, kitchen operations and restaurant management. Depending on the campus, students may be able to concentrate their study in general culinary arts, wine and beverage, baking and pastry arts, restaurant ownership or hospitality business management.

The time it takes to earn your degree may vary, depending on the type and intensity of your chosen program. Students in associate degree programs must complete 90 credits before graduating, which typically takes around 18 months, while most diploma plans require 60 credit hours of study and take approximately one year of full-time study to complete. Some campuses may give students the option of earning their culinary arts diploma in two separate individual sections of 30 credits each.

Game Art & Design

The creation and effective implementation of art assets is often one of the most important parts of video game development, and multiple Art Institutes campuses offer training in this important aspect of the field. In fact, the Art Institute of Vancouver has been recognized multiple times by the Princeton Review as housing one of the top ten undergraduate game design programs in North America.

Students in game art and design programs combine study of the history and technology of the games industry with practical courses in storytelling, level design, event scripting, color theory, creative writing and game engine programming. The Art Institutes programs geared specifically toward game art and design most commonly lead to Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees and non-degree diplomas, although associate degree programs in 3D modeling, animation and other closely related auxiliary disciplines can also be found.


The details of campus culture at each of the Art Institutes locations depends on the culture of the surrounding city and the selection of programs available there, but the system as a whole does work to foster an overall sense of community, collaboration and shared creative energy. Many members of faculty and staff on campuses as well as online work professionally in the discipline they teach, which allows them to pass on to students a multifaceted perspective that professors with strictly academic experience may be unable to deliver.

Career services are an important part of the Art Institutes model, as well. Art Institutes campuses offer seminars on résumé writing, networking and other employment skills, including one-on-one interviewing practice. Other career resources for Art Institutes students include portfolio exhibitions with regional employers and assistance in in acquiring internships and freelance opportunities.

Programs offered through the Art Institutes campuses take a career-focused approach to arts instruction, working to prepare aspiring culinary, design, fashion and media arts professionals for the practical and professional realities of their chosen fields.

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Many of the programs available at Art Institutes campuses are too new or too small for major ranking agencies like U.S. News and World Report to size them up fairly alongside larger or more established degree offerings, but certain programs offered at certain locations have gained some national or international attention. The game art and design program at the Art Institute of Vancouver, for example, has ranked among the top 10 in its discipline by the Princeton Review for the last six years running:

  • 2015: No. 5
  • 2014: No. 8
  • 2013: No. 9
  • 2012: No. 5
  • 2011: No. 4

Notable Faculty/Awards
    • Students at the Art Institute of California - Inland Empire campus in San Bernardino won 28 ADDY awards at the 2015 American Advertising Awards competition, including 3 Gold, 6 Silver and a Best of Show award
    • Art Institutes teacher Martin Linson was named 2013 International Sport Artist of the Year by the United States Sports Academy
    • The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) honored Arts Institutes alumna and Pulitzer Prize winner Carol Guzy with its inaugural Hall of Fame Emeritus Award in 2013
      • The APSCU also awarded its 2013 Hall of Fame Award to culinary arts alumna Tiffany Derry and gave its 2013 Most Innovative Best Practices/New Program award to the Art Institute of California - Orange County

        1. The Art Institutes, accessed June 15-16, 2015: About Ai,,
        2. Degree & Diploma Programs, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, accessed June 15, 2015,
        3. "EDMC's enrollment falls by 16.3 percent," Ann Belser, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 8, 2013, accessed June 15, 2015,
        4. The Art Institutes, Education Management Corporation, accessed June 15, 2015,
        5. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, IPEDS Data Center, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed June 15, 2015,
        6. Basic Statistics, The Art Institutes, Niche, accessed June 15, 2015,
        7. Graduate Employment Statistics Brochure, Education Management Corporation, accessed June 15, 2015:
        8. "The Princeton Review Ranks Top 25 Undergrad & Grad Schools to Study Game Design For 2015," The Princeton Review, accessed June 16, 2015,
        9. "Princeton Review Ranks Champlain #16 for Game Design," Champlain College, March 12, 2014, accessed June 16, 2015,
        10. "The Princeton Review Names Top Undergrad and Grad Schools To Study Game Design For 2013," PR Newswire, March 12, 2013, accessed June 16, 2015,
        11. "Princeton Review's 2012 Top Schools for Video Game Design List," Game Politics, Entertainment Consumers Association, March 1, 2012, accessed June 16, 2015,
        12. "The 10 Best Undergraduate Video Game Design Schools," Huffington Post, March 2, 2011, accessed June 16, 2015,

        Disclaimer: Information on this page was not provided or commissioned by the featured school. Information has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the featured school.

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