Between 1884 and 1998, the Art Academy of Cincinnati operated as a museum school providing quality education to students. The Art Academy of Cincinnati became a charter member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) in 1948. In 1950, a four-year curriculum was introduced, and students earned Certificates. In 1979, the Art Academy of Cincinnati established a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program approved by the Ohio Board of Regents and NASAD. In 1998, the Art Academy of Cincinnati separated from the Cincinnati Museum Association and became a fully independent college of art and design.
In 2005 the Art Academy of Cincinnati moved from its Eden Park and Mount Adams locations to its current campus in historic Over-the-Rhine, a move that enabled the college to provide 24-hour access to over 100 student studio spaces, improved instructional studios, and other updated campus facilities. The Art Academy of Cincinnati was awarded numerous awards for the development, design and construction of the new facility and achieved LEED Certification by the US Green Building Council in 2008.