Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts

The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (Low-Res MFA) program is designed for the 21st-century artist whose work and life demands both a rigorous engagement with an artistic community as well as flexibility, fluidity, and a self-directed approach.

Graduate Portfolio Day Chicago
Saturday, November 2
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
 
Meet one-on-one with graduate program faculty and learn more about the curricula, faculty, and application procedures from a number of colleges.
 

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 an 800 - 1,000 word statement that describes your work or research. Discuss how you came to focus on the medium, body of work, or academic area you wish to pursue at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work, and describe how SAIC's Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Studio is particularly suited to your professional goals.

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.

If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA in Studio as a studio artist, your portfolio should include samples of your recent work documented in 15 to 20 still images, or up to 15 minutes of time-based work, or a combination of 10 images and 10 minutes of time-based work. Support materials may include notes and scores and other similar items.

If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA as a writer, your portfolio should include the following samples of your recent writing from at least one of the following genres:

  • 8 to 10 poems with or without critical commentary OR
  • 2 short stories or 2 short excerpts from a novel OR
  • 2 short works of nonfiction or 2 short excerpts from longer fiction essays OR
  • 2 recently published or delivered critical essays or scholarly papers

If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA as a curator, your portfolio should include the following samples of your recent work:

  • 3 recent or pending curatorial project proposls accompanied by relevant text and images outlining each proposed project

If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA as an educator, your portfolio should include the following samples of your recent work:

  • 3 sample syllabi along with support material describing your pedagogical philosophy or your personal artistic practice OR
  • 2 samples of written work in the education field - essays, conference papers, directed creative writing OR
  • 10 to 15 still images of your current studio work with annotated labels

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: 85 

IELTS: 6.5 

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 Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department (FVNMA) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) endorses and encourages experimentation with radical form and content. Our commitment to deep interdisciplinarity crosses a broad spectrum, including: cinema, animation, time-based installation, and new media. We are theory practitioners for these art forms in all their contemporary venues: the museum, gallery, Internet, festival, cinematheque, street, microcinema, music club, mobile device, performance site, and public, community-based projects.

Working closely with SAIC graduate advisors of their choice, students are encouraged to create a course of study informed by their own goals for their work as artists. Considerable weight is given to establishing a theoretical and historical context for understanding individual work, the work of other artists, and the work of media in general. The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department's distinguished faculty reflect the many and diverse approaches to experimental film, video, and media making, including 2D and 3D animation, nonfiction, narrative, installation, interactivity, and web-based work. Internationally distinguished artists, critics, historians, and curators regularly visit through the department's weekly series Conversations at the Edge.

Important and extensive resources that students in the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department have access to include: 4K digital cameras and 16 film equipment; two shooting studios; a state-of-the-art sound mixing suite; individual high end editing suites, as well as the Video Data Bank, the leading resource in the United States for videos by and about contemporary artists; the Gene Siskel Film Center.

The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (Low-Res MFA) program, acknowledges that contemporary artists and writers have a fluidity of practice that often adopts strategies that are not specific to any one medium, method, or environment. The seven semester program is shaped around the evolving needs of arts practitioners, and is designed for 21st-century artists and writers to meet new challenges through a deepened engagement with contemporary issues, theories, and skills.

Students participate in three, six-week consecutive summer residencies at SAIC; fall and spring off-campus sessions, including regular consultation with SAIC alumni advisors in students' geographic locations; remote instruction made possible through online delivery systems; a choice of various "flex credit" options; and a final exhibition in which significant thesis projects and their written accompaniments will be presented to the public.

Thesis Abstracts

Each year, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago celebrates the culmination and closure of students' studies at the masters level. In studio areas, the celebration takes place in the form of the thesis exhibitions. The academic areas complement this with the publication of students' theses.

The SAIC Thesis Repository contains theses submitted since Spring 2016.

Summer 2019 Residency Dates

June 16th, 2019 - Orientation
June 17th, 2019 - First Day of Classes
July 11th, 2019 - MFA Exhibition Opening
July 26th, 2019 - Open Studio Night
July 27th, 2019 - Last Day of Classes
July 28th, 2019 - Commencement