The Academic Access Program (AAP) is a probationary academic enrichment program for freshmen and transfer students. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) developed the program to provide college-level courses for students to advance the academic skills required to pursue and complete successfully the requirements of a degree from SAIC.

Admission to the Program

Students are informed of their admission to SAIC through the AAP when they are accepted to the school. Admission to SAIC through the AAP is based on the assessment of academic competency during the admission process.

Students participate in Academic Access Program courses during their first year on campus. Students must successfully complete their required AAP courses before they can enter the full academic program of SAIC. Students may only continue their studies toward their degree on the condition that they earn credit in their required AAP courses.

International students may be placed into the AAP rather than the English for International Students program after they have been admitted to SAIC. For students with F-1 Visa status, the AAP is not a probationary program.

How it Works

AAP offers courses in writing skills and critical reading. The courses are designed to enable you to advance your academic skills in a manner that is challenging, timely, and profound. The course sequences share the following learning objectives:

Each course counts as three credit hours toward graduation and is considered a general elective in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program. Some degree programs at SAIC, for example the BFA in Art History, Theory, and Criticism and BFA in Art Education, do not have general elective credits as part of their curriculum; if you transfer into such programs, you will be required to take additional courses toward the fulfillment of degree requirements. The following policies apply to AAP participants:

Support Services

To help ensure your success, we provide the following resources:

Performance Review

At the end of each term, the AAP Coordinator chairs a committee to review the academic performance of each student in the program. The committee is composed of undergraduate division academic administrators, including deans from the Office of Student Affairs and Academic Advising.

The possible outcomes for individual students are:

Appeals (Other than Dismissal)

If you wish to appeal a program policy decision other than dismissal, you should contact the following people in this order:

Completion of the program

You are considered to have completed the Academic Access Program when you have met all requirements of the program. You will receive a letter from the Director of Academic Advising informing you of your successful completion of the program.

For more information, contact the AAP Coordinator at: 312.345.3784. See AAP courses here.

Frequently asked questions

What does Academic Access Program mean?

The Academic Access Program is for students in their first year of studies at SAIC. The word "access" means that successful completion of the program's requirements gives you "access" to the full complement of academic courses at SAIC.

So, just what is the Academic Access Program?

It is an academic enrichment program designed to enable you to strengthen the skills you need in order to be successful in your pursuit of a degree from SAIC. Many of our former students report that these courses made the difference between an academic struggle and academic success. You should know that the Academic Access Program is a probationary program. This means that while you may begin your studies in art immediately, you must successfully complete the required AAP courses before entering the full academic program. In other words, you may only continue your studies at the school on the condition that you receive credit in your required AAP classes.

Do I get course credit for the AAP courses?

Yes. You will earn 3 credit hours toward graduation for each AAP course you successfully complete. The courses are counted as general electives, within the BFA degree track, which means that they do not count toward fulfilling Liberal Arts or Art History requirements. Also, some degree programs at SAIC (e.g., BFA in Art Education) do not have general elective credits as part of their curriculum; if you transfer into such programs, you will be required to take additional courses toward the fulfillment of your degree requirements.

If I take AAP courses, will I still graduate in four years?

If you are a freshman, yes, it is possible to graduate in four years. If you are a transfer student or a student who pursues studies in an area with sequential course sequences, such as Fashion Design, then it may not be possible. Transfer students, in general, do not usually graduate within four years, so it could take you longer to graduate than you had planned. Despite the additional time it may take, it is important to remember that you are more likely to do well in your classes and graduate from the SAIC once you have completed the program. Also, it is important to check on the curricular requirements for the specific degree-track (for example the BFA in Art Education) or other specialized programs within the BFA that you intend to pursue.

Can I take Critical Reading and Art History at the same time (or Writing Skills and First Year Seminar)?

No. You must first successfully complete your AAP course requirements. AAP courses are designed to help you develop the skills necessary for you to be successful in Art History and English, as well as in all other academic courses.

What do I do if I'm having a problem with a course?

  1. Talk to the instructor. Our faculty members are more than willing to meet with you outside of class to help you.
  2. See the advising specialist who will give you personal attention and see that you get the help you need.
  3. Make an appointment to work with a tutor in the Writing Center or the Disability and Learning Resource Center. Many students in the program appreciate the extra help on their assignments.
  4. See Joanna Anos, Coordinator of the Academic Access Program at or 312.345.3784.

Do not simply hope that the problem will go away. We have many support services available for you, so please take advantage of them. Do not give up: we are here to promote your success. One of the solutions above should be helpful.

What happens if I don't get credit in my AAP class?

If you do not successfully complete a class in the program, that is, if you receive one of the following grades, No Credit (NCR), Incomplete (I), or Withdraw (W), you must take that class again the following term.

In that case you would be encouraged to seek assistance through one or more of the various support services offered by the School: Academic Advising, Counseling Services, the Writing Center, or the Disability and Learning Resource Center. If you do not receive credit after taking the class a second time, you will be dismissed from SAIC regardless of your performance in studio courses. Also, if you receive NCR, I, or W in a combination of more than one of the program courses (for example in Critical Writing I and Writing I), you are in danger of being dismissed from school.

If you are at risk of receiving NCR in an AAP course, your instructor will officially give you advance warning so that you may seek assistance to improve your performance. Your progress, as every student's in the program, will be reviewed at the end of each term, and you will be kept informed about your status in the program.

Do I have to be in the AAP courses for a whole year?

For most students, it will take a whole year. However, we do not want to hold you back if you are ready to exit a course sequence. At the end of your first term, a committee made up of AAP faculty and the coordinator will review the portfolios of students whose teachers recommend as candidates to exit either the reading or writing course or both. Candidates are those students who have performed at a consistently high academic level and have demonstrated an exemplary work ethic. The committee determines whether or not students are ready to exit the second half of the course for which they have been recommended.

So how do I convince the committee that I'm ready to go?

There's only one way—a consistently high level of performance throughout the term. The decision is not based on whether you want to move on, or what you think you could do, or that you did remarkably well on one assignment, or even on how hard you have tried. It is based solely on your performance in the class throughout the entire term.

After a year in the program, then what?

Your performance will again be reviewed and if you have successfully completed the requirements of the program, you will receive a letter from the Office of Academic Advising officially notifying you that you have completed the program and may access the full complement of academic courses at SAIC. All of the staff and faculty of the program will be wishing you well as you continue to pursue your degree at SAIC.