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Bachelor of Fine Arts Program

The Entrance Scholarship is a merit-based award offered on an ongoing basis to students accepted to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. To be considered for an Entrance Scholarship an applicant must be accepted to the BFA program. Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the application process at the earliest possible date to receive acceptance and priority scholarship notification.

The Entrance Scholarship is based on the strength of the portfolio submitted as well as all application steps. The Admissions Office also takes each component of the application into account to determine the scholarship award amount.

Annual Scholarship Renewal

The Entrance Scholarship is renewable each successive year for up to four academic years as long as a student maintains a GPA of 2.0 or higher in their semester coursework. For example, a first-year award for an incoming freshman of $12,000 can potentially be a total of $48,000 over four academic years. 

Full Tuition & Fee Scholarships

AAC Vision Scholarships

Four students will be granted the Full Ride Scholarships, which will cover the cost of tuition and fees over a four-year span. This scholarship replaces all institutional scholarships awarded by AAC but may be used in conjunction with external scholarships, grants, and loans. 

Any high school student who is a first-generation college student or is Pell Eligible (via the FAFSA).

Each scholarship requires a 600–2000 word essay, and 1-3 pieces of Creative Work representing the scholarship category.

The deadline for the application has been extended to April 1st.

CPS Scholarship

The Art Academy offers a chance at a scholarship for any Pell-eligible Cincinnati Public School student who has been accepted to the Art Academy of Cincinnati. This scholarship replaces all institutional scholarships awarded by AAC but may be used in conjunction with external scholarships, grants, and loans. 

Two students will be granted the CPS Scholarships, which will cover the cost of tuition and fees over a four-year span. The full-ride does not cover housing, supplies, books, or other costs related to school. 

Any high school senior currently enrolled in the Cincinnati Public School District can apply for this scholarship. The student must complete the AAC application, submit their portfolio on SlideRoom, and be Pell eligible in order to apply for the scholarship.

Cincinnati Public School students applying for the scholarship must complete a general Art Academy application and submit their portfolio to SlideRoom to be accepted into the college. They will also need to complete the FAFSA in order to find out their eligibility for the Pell grant prior to applying for the CPS Scholarship. AAC’s school code for the FAFSA is 003011.  

The deadline for the application has been extended to April 1st.

Additional First Year Scholarships

Scholastic winners are awarded scholarships for Gold Key ($3,000), Silver Key ($1,500), and Honorable Mention ($700). 

$2,500 awarded to any student that completed a summer with the Cincinnati Artworks Program.

Teacher or counselor may award the Teacher Scholarship Certificate to you or write a letter of recommendation to be awarded a Teacher Award for $2,500. Please email recommendation letters to

$1,000 awarded to any student that attended Art Academy of Cincinnati Portfolio Preparation program.

Art Academy will match Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) for the students first academic year.

Any accepted applicant who has received a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place KyAEA award is eligible for scholarship. 1st place is $2,000. 2nd place is $1,500. 3rd place is $500. Unlike Scholastics, these awards do not compound, and students can only claim one of these scholarship opportunities with proof of their achievement.

$10,000 award, in addition to the AAC Entrance Scholarship.

Any student transfering to the Art Academy from the UC Blue Ash Design Program will receive a scholarship of $2,500 total. 

Additional AAC Opportunities

This award was first established in 2000 through the fundraising efforts of the Alumni Association. Full-time faculty members select the winners of this tuition scholarship. The recipients must be full-time sophomore students entering the junior year.

At the end of the academic year, freshman, sophomores, and juniors who have a minimum GPA of 3.0 qualify for consideration for Faculty Portfolio Awards respective to their year levels. Full-time faculty members select the winners by majority vote.

Established by Art Academy Alumna Mary Ann Roach Butkovich, class of 1975, this scholarship is awarded to the highest scoring Bertha Langhorst Werner Scholarship applicant. The Director of Financial Aid and the Scholarship Committee select the recipient of this tuition scholarship.

Students interested in applying to this scholarship should request an application from the Financial Aid office.

The Cincinnati Art Club was formed in 1890 to advance the knowledge and love of art through education. The second oldest continually operating organization of its kind west of the Allegheny Mountains, the Cincinnati Art Club is proud of over 125 years of service to the community. This tuition scholarship goes to a sophomore or junior majoring in either Painting and Drawing or Sculpture. The full-time faculty members select the recipient.

This scholarship was established in 2005 in honor of Art Academy alumni John Fischer and Leonard Sive and is awarded to a student who paints in a realistic or representational style. The Painting and Drawing faculty members choose the recipient.

This award was established in memory of Art Academy alumnus Franklin Folger, Class of 1940. Mr. Folger studied Commercial Art, Painting, and Cartooning and went on to have a successful career in cartoons. His comic panel The Girls originally appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer, and then was syndicated nationally by the Sun-Times-Daily News Syndicate. The Folger Memorial Trust Purchase Award permits the Art Academy of Cincinnati to acquire student art for its collection, while giving students the opportunity to compete for cash awards during the annual Student Juried Exhibition.

The Gary Gaffney & Jacqueline Wollman Scholarship Fund is nimble and responsive to the immediate needs and merits of students. This year it was awarded for performance art and public engagement.

The Omer T. Glenn Endowment was established in 1976 to advance the artistic education of talented, financially disadvantaged students of the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

Founded in 2002, the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society encourages the creation of watercolor at all skill levels and promotes interest, appreciation, and enjoyment of watercolor and water media. The Society’s Scholarship Committee chooses the scholarship winner.

Charley Harper and Edie McKee met on the first day of school, in 1940, at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. As a senior, Charley won the prestigious Stephen H. Wilder Scholarship. In 1947, shortly after graduation, they married and spent their honeymoon traveling the country, using funds from the Wilder. Charley returned to the Art Academy of Cincinnati as an instructor and went on to illustrate numerous books, prints, and posters. He created works for many nature-based organizations including the National Park Service, Cincinnati Zoo, and the Cincinnati Nature Center. Edie experimented in a variety of media and in 1961, the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center exhibited her highly acclaimed abstract photographs. Later, with their son Brett Harper, they formed Harper Studios. They collaborated with each other throughout their careers. Edie was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award from the Art Academy in 2017. The Charley and Edie Harper Scholarship is awarded by faculty to an upperclassman in good standing demonstrating talent, collaboration, and fresh perspective in drawing, painting, and/or illustration.

The Helms Trust Purchase Award was established in 2007 by the William G. and Mary Jane Helms Charitable Foundation. The Helms Trust permits the Art Academy of Cincinnati to acquire student art for its collection, while giving students the opportunity to compete for cash awards. The Helms Trust awards four cash prizes for realistic or representational two- and three-dimensional works.

This need-based award goes to an independent student who is working his or her way through college. The Scholarship Committee and the Director of Financial Aid select the recipient of this scholarship.

Students interested in applying to this scholarship should request an application from the Financial Aid office.

Albert Pels was born on May 7, 1910, in Cincinnati, Ohio and attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati where he won several scholarships. Pels’ work is an example of the Social Realist movement in American painting which flourished in the 1930s and focused on the working class, urban life, social issues, and the hardships of the era. This scholarship is awarded by faculty to a student of merit with exceptional talent in drawing and/or painting.

This scholarship was established by Art Academy alumnus John Ruthven, Class of 1947, and his wife Judy Ruthven. John Ruthven is nationally known for his wildlife paintings and has received numerous awards throughout his long career, including the National Medal of Arts in 2004. This tuition scholarship is awarded to a student for representational or realistic painting, preferably of nature.

This endowed scholarship was established in 2017 by the Carson E. Smith Trust to benefit an Art Academy student majoring in drawing and/or design. Mr. Smith was an Art Academy alumnus, Class of 1937, who attended AAC on the Nowottny-Meakin-Rowe Scholarship and graduated with a degree in Design and Portraiture. Mr. Smith served with distinction in World War II receiving the Purple Heart. During his career, he worked at Rookwood Pottery and is well-known for his design work at Wadsworth Watch Company, Helena Rubinstein Cosmetics, and most notably for the early design of the Cadillac emblem. He also had a long career in Cincinnati at Greiwe Interiors.

J.K. Smith was nothing if not a risk taker. As an artist, a traveler, a student of life and the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s former woodshop instructor, he strived to push his talents and the talents of others around him to new heights. His encouraging and courageous nature is the impetus of this scholarship. It is an award for a student who has spread his or her wings, aimed high and perhaps ventured out of his or her comfort zone. This student took a risk with her or his art, took a chance on a new elevated direction. This person turned heads with perseverance or found a new way to collaborate with her or his community. This person was brave or bold or both; stretched herself or himself into a new dimension. We can all learn to appreciate the importance of taking risks, as JK did. As one student put it, “When I think of JK, I think of how he always welcomed a question or lack of understanding, not by making me feel small, but for making me feel smart for wanting to know more.”

This endowed scholarship was established in 2017 in memory of Art Academy alumnus William E. Villa, Class of 1965. The knowledge Mr. Villa gained through his education at the Art Academy remained with him throughout his life. He supported the works of other artists through his positions as Commissioner of the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Film and Video Arts Commission. The Scholarship Committee will determine the recipient of this tuition scholarship.

Education was important to Bertha Langhorst, a school teacher who inherited a small amount of money from her parents and saved throughout her lifetime. After the death of her second husband Al Werner, she established this tuition scholarship to help young college students who need financial assistance secure an education at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Winners are chosen based on financial need, a written essay, faculty recommendation, and GPA.

Students interested in applying to this scholarship should request an application from the Financial Aid office.

The Stephen H. Wilder Traveling Scholarship, one of the most coveted awards given to graduating AAC seniors, was first awarded in 1947. In 1941 Edith Carson Wilder endowed the scholarship in memory of her husband, specifying that the scholarship be given to deserving students for travel. The money serves as a stipend and travel alliance for special research in fine art or design in the United States or abroad. Each applicant must submit a proposal that includes a budget, itinerary, senior thesis, visual documentation of his or her work, and a description of how the proposed travel experience will benefit their art/design goals. Full-time faculty members, the Academic Dean, and the President vote to select the winners.

The Sillis/Thomas Scholarship for study abroad was funded by the family and friends of Libby Sillis and Mark Thomas on the occasion of their wedding on February 29, 2020. Libby and Mark have earmarked these funds to be awarded to a student who meets the following requirements.

  1. Must be Pell Grant eligible or currently receiving Pell Grant funds.
  2. Write a paragraph on how their study abroad would help them professionally.
  3. Must be a matriculated AAC student with SAP and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.


Students interested in this scholarship must apply for a study abroad program through KIIS and request a KIIS Award Application from the Career Service office.

The Nontraditionals is a community providing academic, professional, and social support and opportunities to nontraditional students. A nontraditional student is someone who didn’t take the traditional path from high school to college. We provide support and resources for returning to school, as well as support for creating opportunities outside of school. Among the goals of The Nontraditionals are obtaining scholarships and internships and facilitating community outreach by and for its members. Students receiving this annual scholarship must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Did not immediately continue higher education after graduating from high school
  • Attends college only part-time
  • Works full-time (35 hours or more per week) while enrolled in a college degree program
  • Is financially independent
  • Has children or dependents other than a spouse
  • Is a single parent
  • Has a GED, not a high school diploma

Students meeting one or more of the criteria above and in good academic standing will be selected by the faculty based on the merits of their portfolio.

This scholarship was established by the Art Academy in 2021 to be awarded to an AAC student (incoming or current). This tuition based scholarship is awarded to a student of color from the state of California. The Scholarship Committee will determine the recipient of this tuition scholarship.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship or award, see your faculty advisor or someone in the Office of Financial Aid. 513-562-8751

If you are interested is investing in an existing or new scholarship, see someone in the Office of Institutional Advancement.

Community Awards & Scholarships

Students are also encouraged to apply for various community scholarships and awards, including:

AAF Cincinnati Student ADDY

American HatMakers Scholarship

Hyde Park Art Show Application 2024

Governor’s Merit Scholarship

AIGA Best Design Award

Cincinnati Art Club

Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation

GC Watercolor Society

Huenited and Bounty Scholarship

Lightroom Presets Scholarship

John L. Magro Fdn. Art Show & Scholarship

Photoshop Actions Scholarship

Three Arts Scholarship Fund

Women’s Art Club

Scholarships are extremely important, even if your family has been saving for college. Scholarships can help reduce loan debt and out-of-pocket cost!! It is recommended nationwide that students apply for no less than two dozen scholarships each year, which is why we suggest applying for not only the AAC community scholarship but for private as well. To support you, we have listed some of the most popular scholarships sites in which you can create a profile and search for private scholarships that might appeal to you personally. Current AAC students can also find the scholarship binder located in the Commons where the Financial Aid Office Work-study student has completed the search for you. Simply pull a copy out of the bind and apply!

You can’t win if you don’t apply!

Other Resources

Current students can log into the Art Academy of Cincinnati Financial Aid Resource page at to view information about outside (non AAC) associated scholarships, as well as our featured scholarship from organizations we partner with every year.

Incoming students please use the below links to search for outside (non AAC) scholarships.

Emergency S.A.F.E. Funds

The AAC S.A.F.E Fund will help provide resources for our students and assist to items related to housing, food, concern for their personal and emotional well-being and other essentials, unexpected early departures from campus, storage or shipping of belongings, technology to support remote learning, and institutional support of these efforts to stay safe and to stay creative.

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Due To Inclement Weather

Classes are cancelled

January 25th, 2023

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