SAIC's Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts program is open to artists, writers, educators, curators, and historians. The admissions requirements differ depending on your current professional direction. Please see the requirements below.

Priority Scholarship Deadline: December 1
Final Application Deadline:  January 10

In order to apply for SAIC's Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts, you will need to submit all of your application materials, including your portfolio, by January 10.

Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at or 800.232.7242

Application Process

  1. Completed Online Application

    SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address.

    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 with one application and fee. Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline.

    Start your application here: Graduate Online Application.

  2. Nonrefundable Application Fee

    When you click the "submit" button on your online application, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information. Application fees are non-refundable. The application fee is discounted by 50% through December 1. 

    Application fee: $90

  3. Official College Transcripts

    During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review, pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Submit an unofficial transcript(s) from the universities/colleges from which a degree and any prerequisites have been completed. In the digital application you can attach unofficial transcripts (.pdf or .jpg). 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.

    Official transcripts with degree completion verification are required upon admission to a graduate program. Transcripts are only official if sent directly from the degree-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. If transcripts are issued directly to you, forward them to SAIC with the seal unbroken and the registrar's signature intact.

    Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree-granting institution to Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

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

    Students admitted to a graduate program who have not received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent are not eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds.

  4. Statement of Purpose

    Write an 800- to 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. Upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio.

  5. Letters of Recommendation

    You are responsible for securing two 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 SAIC's ePortfolio. When completing the References section in your ePortfolio, you will be asked to provide the names and other information associated with each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent to each of your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations through the ePortfolio.

    If your recommenders prefer, they may submit recommendations by mail. Be sure to supply your recommenders with addressed, stamped envelopes and ask them to sign across the seal.

    Address recommendations to:
    SAIC Graduate Admissions
    36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201
    Chicago, IL 60603

  6. ePortfolio

    You are required to submit your portfolio electronically. An email link to access your ePortfolio will be sent to the email address associated with your SAIC application within 24 to 48 hours after you submit the first page of your application.

    The Admissions Committee reviews portfolios for clear direction and potential for development.

    If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA in Studio as a studio artist, your portfolio should include samples of your recent work:

    • 15–20 still images OR
    • 15 minutes of audio, interactive, or time-based work OR
    • 10 still images and 10 minutes of audio, interactive, or time-based work

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

    • 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 nonfiction 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 samples of your recent work:

    • 3 recent or pending curatorial project proposals 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 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
    • 10–15 still images of your current studio work with annotated labels

    Image 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)

    Direct all inquiries regarding accessing the ePortfolio to, 800.232.7242, or 312.629.6100.


Interviews will be conducted by invitation only and on a case-by-case basis.

International Students

Academic Records

Applicants with credentials from institutions outside the United States must submit official, university-attested copies, along with official English translations as applicable to be considered for admission. A translation agency or university language department may issue translations typed on official stationary; the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate his/her translation is accurate and word-for-word.

English Proficiency Tests (TOEFL and IELTS)

A TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) examination is required for all applicants whose native language is not English. A minimum score of 100 for the internet-based TOEFL, or 7.0 for IELTS is required for admission. Applicants who have completed the accredited equivalent to a US bachelor's degree in English at the college or university level may qualify to have the requirement waived.

For reporting purposes, SAIC's code for TOEFL is 1713. To submit IELTS scores, please contact the test center where you took the test and request that an official Test Report Form be sent to SAIC. Visit or for more information.

Immigration Matters

Our goal is to be an active part of your SAIC experience, and to support you in many ways. To begin, please see International Affairs for important visa matters and details on how to manage your immigration status.

U.S. immigration regulations stipulate that a "B" nonimmigrant (both B-1 visitors for business and B-2 visitors for pleasure) is strictly prohibited from enrolling in a degree program.

Helpful Websites


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


Interested in learning more?

View information on admissions and curriculum requirements, Low-Residency program faculty, and more.

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