Low-Residency MFA: Courses


Graduate Studio Seminar

Students are expected to arrive with completed and semi-completed works and be prepared to make and re-make new works throughout the summer sessions. Summer sessions in the Low-Res MFA program consist of weekly studio visits and weekly colloquia. You will meet individually and in small groups with core faculty and visiting artists in your studios. Visiting artists will give public presentations and lead weekly colloquia in all-day Saturday gatherings including all students, core faculty and visitors. A wide variety of readings chosen by faculty will guide discussions that concentrate on problems concerning methods of artmaking, distribution, and interpretation. Readings will include examples drawn from the emerging category of conceptual writing as well as crucial art historical texts, literature and poetry. Graduating students will use summer critique sessions to gain constructive feedback on the final stages of studio and written productions for defense.

Art History, Theory, and Criticism (on campus and online)

Throughout the program, you will engage in interdisciplinary, faculty-driven, student-responsive seminar courses designed for both face-to-face and online delivery that will introduce you to critical texts and theoretical positions in contemporary praxis. For Low-Res MFA students, the required Graduate Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art (ARTHI 5002) will be delivered in the second summer primarily using the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection and temporary exhibitions. All other Art History on-campus and online courses will be thematically focused.

Professional Practices

For the Low-Res MFA, a series of specialized professional practice courses will be offered throughout the three years. During the first summer, you will be introduced to online library resources and to all digital research, communication, and dissemination tools necessary for your use during off-campus semesters. In the second summer, student-initiated interviews, site visits, conversations, and tours of cultural partner organizations in Chicago will increase your exposure to other arts-related professional contexts. In your final year, you will be supported in developing the networks, tools, resources, and contacts needed to continue transitioning from a graduate program to your desired professional contexts.

MFA Thesis Studio

In your final semester, you will enroll in advisor-led, intensive graduate thesis studios focused on the production of advanced work and writing to be exhibited, published, and defended in the final thesis presentation. You must publicly exhibit/perform your final thesis project and submit for review a self-published written accompaniment to a community of faculty and peers at SAIC. Off-campus development of individualized research plans will help focus your explorations of historical, theoretical, and material studies. Within thesis studios, you will be introduced to research methods, self-publishing platforms, general graphic design skills, and print-on-demand specifications.

Graduate Projects (SAIC Alumni Advisors)

During your off-campus semesters you will be expected to engage in independent work and research from your home studio or mobile platforms. The continued development of ideas and approaches initiated during summer Graduate Studio Seminars will be supported through online conversation with SAIC faculty and (whenever possible) up to four home studio visits per year with SAIC alumni advisors. No matter where you live during your degree, the Low-Res MFA program will attempt to connect you with two different alumni advisors who reside within your geographic area. These liaisons are intended to support you in the off-campus development of your work while also providing personal connections to SAIC's vast global network of distinguished alumni.