Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Visual and Critical Studies degree program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) allows you to pursue in-depth academic study in the creative environment of an art school. During your work, you will draw connections between the visual arts and history, philosophy, psychology, and the natural sciences.

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The Admissions office at SAIC is dedicated to assisting you and your family through every step of the college selection process. We are interested in getting to know you—your work, your expectations for college, and your ambitions for the future. We seek students who wish to immerse themselves in an intense interdisciplinary environment, and we hope to challenge the very notion of what art means to you and to our society. SAIC provides a sophisticated education that hones your unique abilities as a contemporary thinker and maker in a global community.

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Visual and Critical Studies students follow a curricular pathway that shares many classes with Bachelor of Fine Arts students before diverging into a unique course of study. Here are the requirements you must meet to earn a BA in Visual and Critical Studies.

Total Credit Hours  126
Core Curriculum  39  
  • VCS 2001 Issues in Visual and Critical Studies (3)
  • SOPHSEM 2900 (3)
  • VCS 3001, 4010, & 5000 Topics in Visual & Critical Studies (including 6 credits global/comparative) (21)
  • PROFPRAC 3900 Junior Seminar (3)
  • VCS 3010 Tutorial in Visual and Critical Studies (3)
  • VCS 4800 Undergraduate Thesis Seminar I: Research & Writing (3)
  • CAPSTONE 4900 VCS Undergraduate Thesis Seminar II: Research and Writing (3)

     PROFPRAC and CAPSTONE are now required for new incoming students beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.

Studio  39
  • CP 1010 Core Studio Practice I (3)
  • CP 1011 Core Studio Practice II (3)
  • CP 1020 Research Studio I (3)
  • CP 1022 Research Studio II (3)
  • Studio Electives (27)    
Liberal Arts   27
  • ENGLISH 1001 First Year Seminar I (3)
  • ENGLISH 1005 First Year Seminar II (3)
  • Humanities (6)
  • Social Science (6)
  • Natural Science (6)
  • Liberal Arts Elective (3)
Art History  9
  • ARTHI 1001 World Cultures/Civilizations: Pre-History to 19th-Century Art and Architecture (3)
  • Art History Elective at 1000 level (3)    
  • Art History Elective (3)
General Electives   12

Transfer Students

Transfer students must complete at least 66 credit hours of coursework at the SAIC in order to earn a BA in Visual and Critical Studies degree here. Please look at the breakdown of credits required for minimum residency below:

Total credits required for minimum residency 66
Minimum Studio credit 3
Minimum Visual and Critical Studies Core Curriculum 39

Alumni of this program go on to graduate work in the humanities, museum studies, arts administration, art-related law, or pursue careers in communications, teaching, public service, social activism, media production, or journalism.

You will share most classes, including a minimum of 39 hours of studio courses, with students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program, yet also follow a distinct sequence of courses, seminars, and personal research. Core courses provide you with diverse critical methods for exploring the cultural meanings of visual phenomena as they relate to social, economic, and material circumstances. You may choose from a variety of courses in studio practice, art history, writing, and the liberal arts and sciences, with special attention to topics such as visual and media literacy, cultural history and theory, and global studies.