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Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects: Master of Fine Arts in Studio, Design for Emerging Technologies

The MFA in Studio, Design for Emerging Technologies program offers students resources in interface design, physical interaction design, information architecture, physical computing, software-based optimization and analysis, and design for embedded control and robotic activation. 

Priority Application Deadline: 12/1

SAIC offers a priority application deadline and reduced application fee for students submitting their graduate application and payment by December 1.

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Application Deadline: January 15

If you are ready to apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio, Design for Emerging Technologies program through the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects, you will need to build a portfolio, gather all of your application materials, and complete the electronic application.

The SAIC Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) department requires an online application for its MFA programs. You will need a valid credit card and current email address in order to complete the form. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. Please review the following requirements carefully before submitting your application:

  • Applications for the fall semester must be submitted no later than January 15. No applications are accepted for spring semester.
  • There is a $90 nonrefundable application fee. The application fee is discounted by 50% through December 1.
  • You must upload one 500- to 750-word statement of purpose that describes the history of your interests and experiences in design, your personal and professional motivations and goals, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at SAIC. Upload your statement of purpose to the online application. 
  • In addition to your application, you must submit an ePortfolio by 11:59 p.m. (CST) on January 16. Your portfolio should include a minimum of five different projects documented in up to 20 images, or up to 10 minutes of time-based work, or a combination of the two as appropriate. Applicants with no previous experience in design can submit a critical writing sample or a visual "essay" in lieu of a traditional design portfolio.
  • A current résumé is required. Upload your résumé to the online application.
  • An interview is not required, but applicants are welcome to contact the AIADO department to request an interview with the department chair at 312.629.6650 or aiado@saic.edu.

You also must submit an official college transcript and two letters of reference for admission into the program. You can ask your references to upload their letter to your online application or mail them directly to the school. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and work experience in architecture, interior design, or a related field is recommended, but not required.

International Students 

Students whose native language is not English, or who do not have a degree conferred by a US-accredited university, are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. Submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results with your application. The Institution Code for SAIC is 1713.

Minimum Required Scores

TOEFL: 85
IELTS: 6.5
For more information about the TOEFL, please visit here.
For more information about the IELTS, please visit here

Academic Records

Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable. 

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

SAIC's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio is a 60 credit hour program is designed to offer maximum flexibility in addressing your individual needs as a student. Following admission through a department, you will design your two-year plan of study based on optimizing the offerings and opportunities available throughout SAIC. You are encouraged to seek out curricular advising as needed from a variety of available sources including the dean, graduate dean, graduate division chair, department heads, academic advising, the graduate admissions office, and your peers.

Term Credit Hours
Studio—MFA 6009 Graduate Projects, Seminars and/or maximum of 12 credits of 3000-level and above studios 39  
Art History 12  
  • ARTHI 5002 Graduate Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art OR ARTHI 5120 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design(3)
  • Art History Courses, 4000-level or above (9)
 
Electives—any course in any area at 3000 level or above 9  
Participation in four graduate critiques  
Participation in ONE of the following as appropriate to artistic practice:* Graduate Exhibition, AIADO or Fashion Exhibition, Graduate Performance Event, Graduate Screenings  
Total Credit Hours 60 
  • Completion Schedule: You have a maximum of four years to complete your MFA in Studio degree. This includes time off for leaves of absence. Students will have access to studios for four semesters only.
  • Transfer Credits: You must complete a minimum of 45 credit hours in residence at SAIC. You can request up to 15 transfer credits at the time of application for admission, which are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credits are permitted after a student is admitted.
  • Art History Requirement: MFA students are required to take ARTHII 5002 Graduate Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art OR ARTHI 5120 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design. Art History courses must be at the 4000-level and above.
  • Undergraduate Studio Courses: Graduate students are permitted no more than one undergraduate studio course (3000-level and above) per semester without permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Courses at the 1000 and 2000-level are allowed only with permission.
  • Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 credit hours is required to maintain full-time status as a graduate student.

MFA 6009 Graduate Projects

MFA 6009 Graduate Projects advising, an ongoing individual dialogue with a wide range of full-time and part-time faculty advisors, is at the heart of the MFA program at SAIC, encouraging interdisciplinary study across the curriculum. You are required to register for one MFA 6009 Graduate Projects advisor each semester, and we highly recommend you register for two.

In the registration process, you may elect to earn 3 or 6 hours of credit with each advisor. This option is designed to allow for maximum flexibility in designing your program. You can earn as few as 3 and as many as 6 credits with each advisor each semester, thus dedicating a maximum of 12 credit hours to your studio activity. The number of credits you earn has no correlation with the length or frequency of the advising sessions or to faculty assessment of student work.

The remainder of credits required for the full-time 15 credit hour load may include graduate seminars and academic or studio electives. MFA students are urged to take graduate seminars, and an introductory seminar in their department of admission is highly recommended. In addition, the MFA student may choose from all the art history, studio, and academic offerings across the curriculum (including undergraduate offerings above 3000 level) in any given semester to customize their degree experience.

Graduate Critiques

As one of the principle means of assessment each semester, you will be required to participate in Critique Week, a week-long schedule of critiques during which classes are suspended.

Fall semester critiques are organized by department with panels representing the discipline. This provides you with an opportunity to understand the department’s expectations, have your work reviewed from a disciplinary point of view, and to reiterate the expectations for graduate study.

Spring semester critiques are interdisciplinary, with panel members and students from across SAIC disciplines. Interdisciplinary critiques allow for a broad range of responses to your work, and are intended to assess the success of your work for a more general, albeit highly informed audience. Critique panels include faculty, visiting artists, and fellow graduate students.

Graduate Exhibition or Equivalent

At the conclusion of your studies, you will present work in the SAIC Graduate Thesis Exhibition, other end-of-year events at SAIC, or the Gene Siskel Film Center—or arrange with the graduate dean or division chair for an alternative thesis of equal professional quality. Each year more than 200 graduate students exhibit work, screen videos and films, and present time-based works, writings, and performance to a collective audience of 30,000 people.

Students wishing to install work around prevalent themes, strategies or stylistic affinities can participate in a juried and curated section of the SAIC Graduate Thesis Exhibition. A faculty and staff committee conducts extensive studio visits and as a collaborative project with student participants, organizes and installs the show in designated space at the exhibition.

Undergraduate Courses

MFA students are advised to understand the expectations of their faculty when enrolled in undergraduate studio classes. Although graduate students are an asset to the group dynamic, faculty requirements for graduate students in undergraduate classes are variable. The student is responsible for understanding the faculty member's expectations about completion of assignments, attendance, and any other criteria for earning credit. To assure that graduate students are working at degree level, they are permitted no more than one undergraduate studio course (3000 level and above) per semester without permission of the dean of graduate studies. Courses at the 1000 and 2000 level are allowed only with permission.

The MFA in Studio program offers an expansive educational model in which designers engage history, critical thinking, and work across disciplines.

SAIC's highly acclaimed Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio is a 60 credit hour program that supports creative work, inquiry, and investigation across 14 departments as part of the advanced preparation of fine arts practitioners.

We encourage our MFA Studio students to move beyond their home departments, working with faculty and peers in any area that supports their graduate work and research. Graduate studios for MFA students are spread across campus in clusters that allow for robust, interdisciplinary exchange.

Graduate-level courses and topical seminars support individual studio work by exposing students to the larger dialogues around the production, exhibition, and function of art and design as well as their expanded cultural production and reception. Students design a personalized curriculum by choosing from a wide variety of seminars, courses, and graduate advisors linked to numerous studio, design, and academic departments. Graduate critiques, central to the MFA experience, alternate between discipline-specific panels in the fall semester and interdisciplinary panels in the spring semester.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.