Graduate Admissions: Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies
Application Deadline: February 1
If you are ready to apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies, you will need to build a portfolio, gather all of your application materials, and complete the electronic application.
Completed Online Application
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.
Start your application here: SAIC Graduate Application
Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.232.7242.
Nonrefundable Application Fee
When you click the "submit" button on your 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).
Application fee: $90
Application fees will be discounted by 50% through December 1.
Official College Transcripts
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 email@example.com. Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:
SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603
Statement of Purpose
Write a 500- to 750-word statement that describes your body of work and discusses how you came to focus on visual and critical studies at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work, and finally, describe how the Visual and Critical Studies program is suited to your professional goals.
Upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio.
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
The Admissions Committee reviews portfolios for clear direction and potential for development. Applicants are required to submit an ePortfolio. You must submit a separate ePortfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. Instructions for submitting ePortfolios will be sent either to the email address associated with your SAIC application, or to the email address associated with your ePortfolio account, if you already have one. You will receive the link to your ePortfolio 24 to 48 hours after you save the first page of the online application.
Submit a 10- to 20-page critical writing sample that addresses a particular topic in visual and critical studies. The sample can also be in the form of writings that interpret and/or contextualize an accompanying selection of found images (excerpted from newspapers, magazines, film, or TV).
Though not required, it is recommended that applicants with backgrounds in studio art or design submit a visual, audio, or related arts portfolio in addition to the required writing sample.
- 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)
*Please note: Slideroom accepts a maximum of 20 media items, including the critical writing sample.
Direct all inquiries regarding the ePortfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org, 800.232.7242, or 312.629.6100.
Some candidates may be contacted for interviews. All applicants are invited to visit the Department of Visual and Critical Studies and to speak with the program director at any time.
A current résumé is required. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your ePortfolio.
Students whose native language is not English, or who do not have a degree conferred by a U.S.-accredited university, are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. Submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results with your application. The Institution Code for SAIC is 1713.
Minimum Required Scores
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.
A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC.
Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies program
Visual and Critical Studies department