This School Has Been Named the Worst College in Georgia

Georgia, renowned for its prestigious educational institutions like Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Morehouse College, also houses schools that fall short of academic excellence, affordability, and graduation rates. Notably, the Art Institute of Atlanta stands out as the worst college in Georgia, securing the third-worst position nationwide, according to Washington Monthly Magazine. Here’s an overview of the reasons behind this undesirable recognition.

Exorbitant Costs, Meager Returns

With an annual net price of $28,676, surpassing the national average for private for-profit institutions ($16,790), the Art Institute of Atlanta raises concerns about cost-effectiveness. Despite the steep fees, students face an average debt of $31,190, exceeding the national average of $28,950. The high default rate on student loans, standing at 19.1%, further eclipses the national average of 10.1%.

A dismal 18% graduation rate underscores the lack of educational value, with only one in five students completing their degrees. Additionally, the median earnings of former students a decade after enrollment hover at $30,700, falling short of the national median of $34,300. These statistics suggest that the Art Institute of Atlanta fails to deliver a satisfactory return on investment, potentially leaving students financially worse off than before enrollment.

Questionable Educational Quality

Despite claiming to provide a “creative education preparing graduates for careers in their chosen fields,” the Art Institute of Atlanta’s academic performance raises doubts. A low retention rate of 45% indicates that over half of the students do not return for the next academic year. The student-faculty ratio of 17:1 implies a lack of individual attention and feedback from instructors.

The absence of regional or national accreditation jeopardizes the recognition of the school’s degrees by other institutions or employers. Furthermore, the institution lacks research and community service activities, essential indicators of academic excellence and social responsibility. These factors collectively suggest that the Art Institute of Atlanta fails to offer a high-quality education that adequately equips students for real-world challenges.

Closure and Controversies

Once part of the Art Institutes’ chain owned by the troubled Education Management Corporation (EDMC), the Art Institute of Atlanta faced financial and legal troubles. In 2018, EDMC sold the Art Institutes to the non-profit Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH), which also encountered financial and legal issues.

In September 2023, citing declining enrollment, financial difficulties, and accreditation issues, the Art Institute of Atlanta announced its permanent closure, joining several other Art Institutes campuses. The school provided students with options to transfer, complete their degree online, or engage in a teach-out agreement with another institution. However, many students found themselves in uncertainty regarding their academic future and financial obligations.


Once a sought-after destination for aspiring artists and designers, the Art Institute of Atlanta’s failure to fulfill promises and expectations resulted in its closure. Faced with high costs, low value, poor quality, and legal troubles, the institution earned the title of Georgia’s worst college and one of the nation’s lowest-ranked. Attendees may have invested time, money, and energy in vain, encountering obstacles in pursuing their careers or further education. The Art Institute of Atlanta serves as a cautionary tale regarding the pitfalls of for-profit education and underscores the importance of thorough research when selecting a college or university.


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