Transfer & Prior Degree Students: FAQ

General Undergraduate Questions

Is SAIC Accredited?

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been accredited since 1936 by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and as a charter member since 1944 by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Can you explain what an interdisciplinary curriculum means?

SAIC students do not declare majors, but like contemporary artists, designers, and scholars, are encouraged to experiment across media to express their ideas in the most effective manner. Students wishing to concentrate entirely in one medium are free to do so.

Certain course paths—such as Visual Communication Design (Graphic Design), Interior Architecture, and Fashion do have prescribed pathways to ensure that professional standards are met.

What undergraduate degrees does SAIC offer?

SAIC offers the following undergraduate degrees:


With the credit/no-credit grading system, do students have trouble getting into graduate school or transferring credit?

No, our students do not have difficulty getting into all types of graduate programs and transferring into other institutions.

What scholarships are available, and what are the amounts?

There are many scholarship opportunities at SAIC. Visit the Financial Aid website to learn more.

What are the demographics of the student population?

Fall 2017

Total enrollment: 3,650
Undergraduate students: 2,890
Graduate Students: 760

Female: 74%
Male: 26%

International Students: 33%

Countries represented: 63

African American: 4%
Asian or Pacific Islander: 12%
Hispanic: 6%
Multiethnic: 2%
White Non-Hispanic: 54%
Not specified: 1%

What is the student to faculty ratio?

12 to 1

What is the average class size?


How many graduate students teach undergraduate courses?

Only a few undergraduate studio classes are taught by graduate students and these are typically introductory-level classes.

Undergraduate Transfer Students

What is SAIC’s transfer policy?

Students transferring to SAIC who have not earned a prior degree from a college or university may be eligible for up to 60 hours of transfer credit.

Only courses for which a student has earned a grade of “C” or better, or its equivalent, at a regionally accredited institution are eligible for transfer. Undergraduate transfer students must have all credits from previous institutions accepted for transfer prior to the end of their first semester of study at SAIC.

How do I apply for admissions as a transfer student?

Transferring credit hours from another college or university to SAIC is individually based and not a complicated procedure. The application process for transfer and prior degree students is the same as it is for first-year students entering from high school, except that a transfer student needs to submit college transcripts.

To apply to SAIC's undergraduate program, please visit the Undergraduate Transfer and Prior Degree Admissions section.

Are standardized tests (ACT, SAT, TOEFL) required?

Yes. For domestic applicants to be exempt from submitting test score requirements for admission, you must have successfully passed (with a grade of C or above) at least six credits of college-level essay writing or English (or have taken a significant amount of Liberal Arts credit). 

However, if you have not taken six credits of college-level English, your file will be reviewed by our academic review committee.

ALL international transfer students must provide a TOEFL, unless you have a bachelor's degree from a U.S. university. See international student test score requirements here.

How many studio credits can I transfer in?

Transfer students are eligible to transfer up to 30 studio credits toward the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Writing degrees, 30 toward the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education, and 15 toward our Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art History, Theory, and Criticism.

Visit the respective degree program websites to learn more about their respectice degree requirements.

What support documentation is required for transfer credits?

We transfer credit on an individual basis. As soon as you apply to SAIC, request that transcripts from your current and past colleges be sent to us. Upon receipt, we will evaluate these transcripts in a timely manner and will let you know what can be transferred and how.

You can send us in-progress transcripts. We do need "official" transcripts from your university's registrar for credit to officially transfer, however, you may initially provide us with unofficial transcripts to get an idea of your standing at SAIC. You must have earned grades of C or above to transfer credit.

What are SAIC’s categories for credit?

Art History
Survey I: Ancient to Modern
Survey II: Modern to Contemporary
Art History electives

Liberal Arts
Natural Science
Social Science

Contemporary Practices
Studio Electives

SAIC has five different undergraduate degrees. Each degree track has specific curriculum requirements in order to complete the program. Visit the Undergraduate Degree Programs section to learn more about specic degree program curricular requirements.

What kinds of classes fulfill SAIC’s liberal arts requirements?

  • English: essay writing, composition, literature
  • Humanities: literature, music appreciation (not studio or conservatory), philosophy, cultural studies
  • Natural Sciences: mathematics, physics, astronomy, geology, earth science, chemistry, biology, botany
  • Social Science: history, geography, political science, economics, psychology, anthropology, sociology
  • Academic Electives: all of above plus languages
  • General Electives: all of above, plus art history and studio

We do not transfer credits in health, nutrition, or physical education.

What scholarships are available?

Merit scholarships are available for transfer students who do not already have a baccalaureate degree.

For spring, the deadline is November 1.
For fall, the deadline is March 15.

Visit the Financial Aid:Merit Scholarship section to learn more.

Prior Degree Undergraduate Applicants

I have a prior degree. What is unique about the program for me?

For application purposes, we will consider you a transfer student. However, per your prior bachelor's degree, we waive the liberal arts and general electives requirements of our degree. This will allow you to concentrate on studio and art history classes.

Note: students who already have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree do not qualify for the prior degree option and should apply to one of our Masters programs.

See questions below for transfer credit issues.

Am I eligible for financial aid?

Need-based grants and loans are available. If you are interested in receiving financial aid, you should complete a Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) online as soon as possible. The website is

Ensure that this information is sent to SAIC. Our school code is 001753. Our Financial Aid office can be reached at 312.629.6600.

How many of my credits will transfer to the program?

The amount and type of credit is determined on an individual basis, by looking at the specific courses you have completed (via your official transcript). Once you have sent us your transcripts, an official evaluation will be performed and sent to you.

Students with a prior degree may qualify for up to 81 semester credit hours: 36 in studio and 45 in art history, liberal arts, and general electives toward an undergraduate degree at SAIC. Per your prior bachelor's degree, all of the liberal arts and general electives requirements are waived.

Is studio space available?

Some advanced students in the undergraduate program in specific departments may compete for shared studio space (This will be determined during orientation, just before classes start).

What types of courses are available?

Most students will register for advanced courses, which combine both assigned and independently conceived projects, along with critiques and feedback from faculty. This dedicated studio time will help you enhance your existing body of work through further advanced-level exploration and experimentation into idea, technique, and the thinking and making.