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In San Francisco, California, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) is a private contemporary art college. Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the United States' oldest art schools and the oldest west of the Mississippi River. There are about 400 undergraduates and 200 graduate students enrolled. The institution is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) (AICAD).


Diversity Statement

A rigorous artistic and intellectual community is enriched by diversity and inclusion. We promote artistic and intellectual freedom by fostering environments that value our diverse students, faculty, and staff and provide all community members with a respectful and challenging space in which to address divergent opinions and ideas.


By "diversity," we mean that our community prospectively embraces differences in gender expression and identity, age, culture, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, physical ability, learning style, religion, occupation, nationality, immigration status, socio-economic status, and the many forms of composite subjectivity and life experience that span these differences. Promoting such a broadly inclusive understanding of diversity requires ongoing education and effort, to ensure support, understanding, and awareness from all community members. In this, SFAI strives to move beyond the reactive methodologies of affirmative action, even as we proactively practice equal opportunity in hiring and admissions.


SFAI seeks to be a vanguard institution with regard to how we address and integrate notions of diversity. The Institute continues to develop connections and mutually beneficial relationships between the school’s immediate community and local and global publics in the belief that a multiplicity of voices has helped to make SFAI the influential and inspiring institution that it is today.

Exhibitions and Public Programs

Direct access to exhibits, seminars, symposia, films, and other special interdisciplinary activities is provided to students. Such activities link students to the wider community of musicians, literature, and contemporary ideas as an integral part of campus life. Exhibitions, seminars, and other alternative and creative outlets for presenting work by international contemporary artists are located in the Walter and McBean Galleries (on the 800 Chestnut Street campus). In a variety of spots on SFAI's two campuses, including the Diego Rivera Gallery, students also have the opportunity to demonstrate their own work.


Potential Closure

The school declared on March 23, 2020 that it will stop accepting new students for the following fall semester due to the lack of a sizeable endowment, falling enrollment rates, high real estate prices, and a dependency on income from campus property rentals, which was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Shortly after the failed merger negotiations, the institute celebrated its 149th birthday on Thursday, March 26, 2020. They briefly announced that before changing their decision and allowing for online and offline classes over the next school year, the fall semester was cancelled.


The board and administration reported in July 2020 that an agreement had been reached to retain all tenured faculty for the coming academic year after receiving $4 million in donations, resulting in the continuation of courses for the next academic year and the reinstatement of the degree program for those within a year of graduation.

San Francisco, California is blessed with some of the top colleges in the state.  Make sure to check these out:

  • California College of the Arts

  • City College of San Francisco

  • UC Hastings College of the Law

  • California College of Arts

  • San Francisco State University

  • University of San Francisco

  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music

  • University of California San Francisco  


All of these wonderful colleges are located just a short distance from our location located at 100 Pine St #1250 in San Francisco! Stop by for a visit anytime!

Walking on Campus
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