The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (Low-Res MFA) program, which begins in summer 2014, 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 three-year 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 develop major exhibited and written thesis projects and participate in three, six-week consecutive summer residencies at SAIC; fall and spring independent study sessions, including regular consultation with SAIC alumni advisors in students' geographic locations; remote instruction made possible through online delivery systems; international study trips to sites of art historical importance; and a final exhibition in which significant thesis projects and their written accompaniments will be presented to the public.

Studio 36
Art History/Theory 18
Electives* 6
Participation in all Graduate Studio Seminars  
Participation in Graduate Exhibition or equivalent  
Total Credit Hours60
Year 1
  • Graduate Studio Seminar (4.5)
  • Art History/Theory: Attention (3) 
  • Professional Practice: Digital Interfaces (1.5) 
  • Graduate Projects: Ind. Studio (Alumni Advisor) (3)
  • Art History/Theory: Special Topics (3)
  • Optional Study Trip or 3–6 Credit Equivalent*

  • Graduate Projects: Ind. Studies (Alumni Advisor) (3) 
  • Art History/Theory: Special Topics (3)
Year 2
  • Graduate Studio Seminar (4.5)
  • Art History/Theory: Sensation (3)
  • Professional Practice: Cultural Liaisons (1.5)
  • Graduate Projects: Ind. Studio (Alumni Advisor) (3)
  • Art History/Theory: Thesis Research (3)
  • Optional Study Trip or 3–6 Credit Equivalent*
  • Graduate Projects: Ind. Studies (Alumni Advisor) (3) 
  • Elective: Thesis Composition (4.5)
Year 3
  • Graduate Studio Seminar (4.5)
  • Art History/Theory: Perception (3)
  • Thesis Studio: Public Presentation (1.5)
  • Professional Practices: Expanded Networks (1.5)

*Elective Credits

Low-Residency MFA students are invited to participate in study trips to fulfill the elective credit requirement. Travel can occur during the winter interim or early enough in the summer so as not to conflict with the residential term. Study trips are offered each year at a range of locales: from New York City to Prague to Tokyo. Details regarding current trips can be found here.

We understand that this may be cost prohibitive to some and there will be other opportunities to take courses to fulfill the requirement.

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 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