Master of Fine Arts in Studio, Designed Objects

The MFA in Studio, Designed Objects program is suited to design practitioners looking to advance, define and reinvent their practice. Working amongst a vibrant and diverse community of makers and scholars, MFA Designed Objects students self-design their program of study by choosing graduate advisers and coursework from departments across the school.

Graduate Programs Meet and Greet at the Art Institute of Chicago

Thursday, November 21
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Application Deadline: January 10 - $90 Application Fee

Priority Deadline: December 1 - $45 Application Fee

Apply online via Slideroom

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry.

Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline. When you click the "submit" button on the Graduate Application form, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application form is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information.

Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC. 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.

During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Include transcripts both official and unofficial from all universities/colleges from which a degree was obtained or prerequisites were fulfilled. You can attach unofficial transcripts as .pdf or .jpg files in the Educational History section of the application form. If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable.

Transcripts are considered official if sent directly from the degree- or credit-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. Hard copy transcripts are considered official if the documents remain in the registrar's original signed and sealed envelopes. Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to gradmiss@saic.edu. Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

SAIC Graduate
36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

Write a 500 to 700 word statement of purpose that describes the history of your interests and experiences in your program of interest, your personal and professional motivations and goals, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at SAIC, and thoughts on potential future directions.

A statement of intent is required for all graduate programs though the content varies by department. You will upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your E-Portfolio.

2 Letters of Reference are required.

You are responsible for securing letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of recommendation from current or former instructors.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via the References section of the application form. In this section you will be asked to provide an email address for each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent from SlideRoom to your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations online.

If your references are unable to provide an online recommendation please contact the Graduate Admissions office at gradmiss@saic.edu.

A current résumé is required.

A resume is required for all graduate programs. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your E-Portfolio.

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 in which one image is equivalent to approximately two minutes of time-based work. 

Applicants with no previous experience in design can submit a critical writing sample or a visual essay in lieu of a traditional design portfolio. The critical writing sample should be 1,000 words in length and address some aspect of design that is of specific interest or concern to you. This writing sample can include visual images, and should be submitted as a .pdf.

Applicants are required to submit an E-Portfolio, though the content varies by department. Please visit your individual program of interest to find details. You must submit a separate E-Portfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an E-Portfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

Submission specifications:

  • Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)
  • Videos: .flv, .wv, .mov (up to 60 MB each)
  • Audio: .mp3 (up to 10 MB each)
  • Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each)

TOEFL: 100 

IELTS: 7

DUOLINGO: 120

International applicants are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. You are waived from this requirement if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your native language is English
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a U.S. accredited university
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a university whose primary language of instruction is English

If you do not meet one of these conditions, you must submit official English language proficiency test scores. You are strongly encouraged to schedule a language proficiency test appointment as early as possible in order to receive official test scores prior to the application deadline.

SAIC accepts official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Duolingo. The TOEFL Institution Code for SAIC is 1713. Please upload an unofficial copy of your test score results to the International Requirements section of the application form.

The Architecture department conducts interviews by invitation, only. Applicants who pass the preliminary review will be invited to schedule an on-campus interview the weekend of February 15, 2020. Notification will be sent by late January.

View MFA Brochure

SAIC’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio, Designed Objects is a 60 credit hour program designed to offer maximum flexibility in addressing your individual needs as a student. Following admission through the department, students design their two-year plan of study based on optimizing the offerings and opportunities available throughout SAIC. Students are encouraged to seek out curricular advising as needed from a variety of available sources including the graduate dean, department heads, AIADO’s graduate coordinator, and their peers. 

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

Graduate studios for MFA students in AIADO are clustered to provide community and easy access to the Sullivan fabrication facilities. 

SAIC: WhatNot
Sungjun Kim

DESIGN YOUR PROGRAM OF STUDY

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.

Applicants to the MFA in Studio, Designed Objects program are expected to have previous experience and a strong portfolio in three-dimensional design practice, and the ability to self-manage an extended program of independent study.

Studio_Norman Teague_Objects of Familiarity A-Z_2016_Master of Fine Arts Designed Objects
Norman Teague

MFA VERSUS MDDO

In contrast to the MFA in Studio, Designed Objects, the Master of Design in Designed Objects (MDDO) program is for individuals looking for an immersive training to build the critical and technical skills necessary for advanced object design practice. The 66-credit MDDO program is for students who wish to study within a structured, course-based curriculum of Designed Objects-specific studios, seminars and technical labs.

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.