Art Center College of Design (a.k.a. "Art Center") is a private college located in Pasadena, California, and was cited by BusinessWeek as one of the 60 best design schools in the world. The college’s industrial design program is consistently ranked number one by both DesignIntelligence and U.S. News & World Report, and BusinessWeek regularly features Art Center among the world’s top design schools. U.S. News also ranks Art Center’s Art and Media Design programs among the top 20 graduate schools in the U.S. The college logo is an orange circle, also known as the Art Center "Dot," which has been a part of the school's identity since its inception by founder Tink Adams. Art Center offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of art and design fields, as well as public programs for children and high school students, and continuing studies for the Los Angeles metro area. Art Center is particularly known for its Transportation (Automobile) Design, Product Design and Entertainment Design programs. It also has notable Photography, Graphic Design, Advertising, Illustration, Fine Art, Film and Environmental Design programs. Art Center offers graduate degrees in Fine Art, Media Design, Broadcast Cinema and Industrial Design. The college maintains two campuses in Pasadena; both are considered architecturally notable.
Art Center built its reputation as a vocational school, preparing returning G.I.s for work in the commercial arts fields. It has traditionally maintained a strong "real world" focus, emphasizing craftsmanship, technique, and professionalism while somewhat de-emphasizing theory. Instructors are generally working professionals, and projects are intended to map to real-life clients or assignments, with some class projects being sponsored by industry or nonprofit organizations, including Nike, Disney, NASA, and BMW. During the past decade, Art Center has developed programs and projects that focus on design's potential to generate positive social change and improve people's lives through a college-wide initiative, Designmatters. In recognition of Art Center's commitment to addressing social and humanitarian issues through design, 2003 saw Art Center become the first design college to ever receive NGO (non-governmental organization) status by the United Nations.
Art Center offers programs year-round with three terms per year. While undergraduates can obtain a four-year Bachelor degree in about 2 years and 8 months (8 terms total), most students take a term off for independent study or to complete industry internships, or they enroll in part-time terms with light course loads, lengthening their stay to three or more years. The accelerated learning environment stems from the college's trade school roots. Administrators and faculty aim to create a "real world" working environment, where the summer vacation does not exist.
Art Center is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
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