Press Release

The Art of Education University Named to the 2021 Inc. 5000 Annual Ranking of the Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America

NEW YORK, September 8, 2021 ( – Inc. magazine revealed that The Art of Education University (AOEU) is No. 984 on its annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses. Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Patagonia, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000.

“AOEU looks like a small organization serving the small field of art education. In reality, we’re quietly reinventing higher education,” said AOEU Founder and CEO Derek Balsley. “We’re building the world’s first hyper-vertical university. A university that serves its students over an entire lifetime, and understands that learning doesn’t stop when the diploma is earned.” 

In 2011, Derek and Jessica Balsley founded The Art of Education to improve professional development for K-12 art teachers around the world. Today, The Art of Education University offers a Master of Arts in Art Education, graduate courses, on-demand professional development, a K-12 curriculum platform, online conferences, and an online magazine filled with free resources. 

“Our institution’s incredible growth was made possible by a uniquely passionate and dedicated team, focused on fulfilling our mission and bringing this new type of university to life. I’m incredibly proud of everything this team has done, and everything this team is going to do in the coming years,” said Balsley. “Our team is passionate about art education and higher education and we’re on a mission to grow amazing art teachers.”

Not only have the companies on the 2021 Inc. 5000 been very competitive within their markets, but this year’s list also proved especially resilient and flexible given 2020’s unprecedented challenges. 

“The 2021 Inc. 5000 list feels like one of the most important rosters of companies ever compiled,” says Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief of Inc. “Building one of the fastest-growing companies in America in any year is a remarkable achievement. Building one in the crisis we’ve lived through is just plain amazing. This kind of accomplishment comes with hard work, smart pivots, great leadership, and the help of a whole lot of people.” 

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at

AOEU was also named to the 2021 list of the 429 Best Companies to Work For in America.

CONTACT: E.J. Caffaro, Chief Growth Officer,