The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has a long history of educating artists and designers in Chicago. As you will see from this timeline, this history is interwoven with the Art Institute of Chicago and the city itself.

1866 SAIC founded as the Chicago Academy of Design; the 35 founding artists intend to run a free school with its own art gallery
1872 The collecting arm of the school is founded
1879 School is incorporated as the Chicago Academy of Fine Art
1882 Name is changed to the Art Institute of Chicago to accommodate a distinct museum and school
1883 Children's art classes offered to the community
1893 The Art Institute of Chicago school and museum move into their iconic building on Michigan Avenue built for the World's Columbian Exposition
1934 Students begin taking liberal arts courses, subsequently enabling SAIC to begin awarding Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in 1936
1936 SAIC is first art school to be accredited by a regional accrediting association
1940 First Master of Fine Arts degrees awarded
1944 SAIC offers its first course in abstract painting, initiating a post-war shift toward forward-looking art production and training
1969 SAIC's interdisciplinary approach to art education is established, allowing students to determine their own curricula with faculty consultation
1972 The Department of Art and Technology Studies is founded—the first department of its kind
1972 Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is established—now named the Gene Siskel Film Center
1993 First residence hall is constructed to house a growing student population, resulting in a truly urban campus by 2000
1993–95 Graduate programs diversified, with the introduction of the Master of Arts in Arts Administration, Master of Science in Historic Preservation, and Master of Fine Arts in Writing
1995 The Art Institute of Chicago welcomes more than one million visitors to Claude Monet: 1840-1926 during its four-month run
1997 U.S. News and World Report ranks SAIC #1 fine arts program in its annual Best Graduate Schools edition—SAIC has been consistently ranked in the top three ever since
2001 SAIC develops technology for Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain, in turn increasing SAIC’s focus on external and civic collaborations
2002 SAIC is named the "most influential art school in the United States" in a survey of art critics conducted by the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University
2004 SAIC initiates a laptop program for all incoming first-year students, the first program of its kind in a major arts school
2006 Introduction of new graduate programs in design, including the Master of Architecture, Master of Design in Designed Objects, and Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture
2009 SAIC produces the most Fulbright Scholars among all art and design schools
2009 Designed by Renzo Piano, the Art Institute of Chicago’s acclaimed Modern Wing opens, increasing the museum’s overall exhibition space to more than one million square feet
2012 The LeRoy Neiman Center opens, providing SAIC with its first campus center
2013 SAIC partners with Northwestern University to offer Data Viz Collaborative, a course that pairs art and design students with science and math students to develop new ways of visualizing large data sets
2014 The Master of Architecture degree program is granted an eight-year term of accreditation by the National Architectural Accrediting Board
2014 SAIC welcomes its first-ever Scientist-in-Residence David Gondek, who helped create an artificial intelligence machine that defeated top Jeopardy! players
2014 The Department of Fashion Design celebrates its 80th anniversary with special performances and interdepartmental collaborations at THE WALK 2014