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.

Orientation/Program Begins: Sunday, June 17
MFA Exhibition Opening: Thursday, July 12
Open Studios: Friday, July 27
Program ends: Saturday, July 28
Commencement: Sunday, July 29

Studio 36
Art History/Theory 18
Flex Credits 6
Participation in all Graduate Studio Seminars  
Participation in Graduate Exhibition or equivalent  
Total Credit Hours60
 SummerFallSpringAny semester
Year 1
  • Graduate Studio Seminar (4.5)
  • Art History/Theory: Attention (3)
  • Professional Practice: Digital Interfaces (1.5)
  • Graduate Projects: Ind. Studio (Program Mentor) (3)
  • Art History/Theory: Art Ideas (3)
  • Graduate Projects: Ind. Studies (Alumni Advisor) (3)
  • Art History/Theory: Writing Art (3)
  • Completion of Flex Credits 

Year 2
  • Graduate Studio Seminar (4.5)
  • Art History/Theory: Sensation (3)
  • Professional Practice: Cultural Liaisons (1.5)
  • Graduate Projects: Ind. Studio (Program Mentor) (3)
  • Art History/Theory: Special Topics (3)
  • Graduate Projects: Ind. Studies (Program Mentor) (3)
  • Thesis Composition (4.5)
  • Completion of Flex Credits
Year 3
  • Graduate Studio Seminar (4.5)
  • Art History/Theory: Perception (3)
  • Thesis: Public Presentation (1.5)
  • Professional Practices: Expanded Networks (1.5)

Flex Credits

As part of their 60 credit MFA degree, students will choose 6 Flex Credits. Flex Credits can be taken in all semesters, time permitting, and with consent of Director.

The Low-Residency curriculum includes 6 "Flex Credits" that can be customized based on the student's needs. These credits can be satisfied in a number of ways:

All Low-Residency MFA students may elect to earn 3 or 6 hours of credit with each Graduate Project advisor. This option is designed to allow for the maximum flexibility in designing one's program. Students can earn as few as 3 and as many as 6 credits with each advisor each semester. The number of credits earned by the student has no correlation with the length or frequency of the advising sessions or to faculty assessment of student work.

All LRMFA students must take the required Art History credits within the low residency program. However, students may elect to take additional Art History courses as part of the Flex Credits.

Low-Res MFA Degree Requirements and Specifications

  1. Completion schedule: Students have a maximum of five years to complete the coursework and submit a final, approved thesis. This includes time off for leaves-of-absence.
  2. Transfer credits: A minimum of 45 credit hours must be completed in residence at SAIC. Up to 15 transfer credits may be requested at the time of application for admission and are subject to approval at that time. Transfer credits are possible at the discretion of the Program Director. No transfer credit will be permitted after a student is admitted.

Full-time status minimum requirement: 9 credit hours during summer semesters, 6 credit hours during the fall and spring semesters, and, if enrolled, 3 credit hours during the winter semester.

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