Partnerships & Advocacy

AICAD is a Membership Organization of the 39 Leading Art & Design Schools in the USA and Canada.

AICAD Schools Offer The Highest Quality Art & Design Education.

Mission and Purpose

AICAD – the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design – is a non-profit consortium of 39 leading art schools in the US and Canada. It was founded in 1991 by a group of 25 presidents who felt a need for the similarly structured art schools to come together so as to mutually develop their schools and programs. Our mission is to help strengthen the member colleges individually and collectively, and to inform the public about these colleges and the value of studying art and design.

AICAD colleges educate more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year, plus many thousands more in summer and continuing education programs. Our students are drawn from all 50 US states and more than 60 foreign countries. Over 70% of these students receive financial aid to support their education.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Art and design colleges are educating an increasingly diverse, changing, global student population. Calls to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion on AICAD campuses come from many internal and external constituencies. As such, AICAD and its member institutions has developed and adopted the following principles on diversity, equity, and inclusion:

AICAD Statement of Principles on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


While not primarily a policy or lobbying organization, AICAD keeps member schools informed about policy issues that may affect them. These include federal regulations, accreditation issues, student assessment, and sometimes K-12 issues that may impact higher education.


The National Association of Schools of Art and Design is the national accrediting agency for art and design and art and design-related disciplines. The association includes over 323 schools of art and design, primarily at the collegiate level, but also including postsecondary non-degree-granting schools for the visual arts disciplines.


The National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities is made up of over 1,000 members nationwide and it represents this cohort on policy issues with the federal government, such as those affecting student aid, taxation, and government regulation.


STEM to STEAM is the movement (started by the Rhode Island School of Design that has since been widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals) to add Art and Design to the national agenda of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and research in America.


AICAD is proud to work hand-in-hand with the following organizations who also endeavor to support and strengthen art education:

The Scholastic, Inc. Art & Writing Awards

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is a prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the U.S., and the nation's largest source of scholarships for creative young artists and writers. AICAD has partnered with the Alliance to create dedicated scholarships for nationally recognized recipients of the Scholastic Art Awards who are seniors in high school and planning to attend an AICAD Member Schools. Scholarships begin at $1500 and are renewable each year the recipient is enrolled at an AICAD school - up to four years.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

In addition to being the only museum in the US that is exclusively devoted to design, The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum offers a range of curatorial and educational programs, including family, teen and school programs.

Art Schools Network

The Art Schools Network in an association representing all the arts magnet and arts-focused K-12 schools in the U.S.


National Portfolio Day events are held throughout the US specifically for visual artists and designers who wish to pursue a graduate or undergraduate education in the visual arts. Perspective students meet with representatives from schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) to discuss their artwork and receive invaluable feedback on their portfolio prior to the admissions process. High school students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and college transfer students are encouraged to attend. There are also several annual events specifically for perspective graduate students. All Portfolio Day events are free, open to the public and do not require pre-registration.


The National Association for College Admission Counseling is an organization of more than 13,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to educating and assisting students as they navigate the college admissions process and make decisions about their postsecondary education.


The National Art Education Association is the leading international professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators. NAEA also serves more than 45,000 student members who belong to the National Art Honor Society.