History and Quick Facts

SAIC Accolades

A fine arts graduate program ranked number two in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Of the seven individual areas of study ranked in the Fine Arts category, five of SAIC’s graduate concentrations were ranked in the top six. Two of these concentrations—Painting and Drawing and Photography—were ranked in the nation’s top three.

#7 art and design program in the world by QS World University Rankings.

“The most influential art school in the United States”—Columbia University’s Art Critics National Arts Journalism Survey

A top producer of Fulbright Scholars among all art and design schools

#2 in top 25 animation schools in the Midwest in 2022Animation Career Review 

SAIC is a top graphic design school in 2020Graphic Design USA 

SAIC named in the top 10 Art Education programs in the USCollege Magazine

SAIC named one of the top 50 film schools TheWrap

Honored with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for four consecutive yearsInsight Into Diversity magazine

Awarded the Active Minds Healthy Campus Award in 2016 - Active Minds

Art Institute of Chicago named among best museums in the world in 2017TripAdvisor  

SAIC is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country.

Founded as the Chicago Academy of Design in 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) provides a challenging education in the studio arts and exhibition opportunities for its students. The School incorporated as the Chicago Academy of Fine Art in 1879, and changed its name to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1882. The museum and School moved into a building designed and built for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Throughout the history of SAIC, alums have played central roles in important art movements. It was SAIC that provided the impetus for two significant schools of American painting—the Regionalists of the 1930s, and the Imagists of the 1960s. Some of the most notable names in the arts received their early training at SAIC, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, H.C. Westermann, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Ivan Albright, Ed Paschke, Roger Brown, Halston, LeRoy Neiman, Elizabeth Murray, Cynthia Rowley, David Sedaris, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Sarah Vowell.

SAIC has the largest school-museum campus in the United States.

Since 1976, SAIC has occupied its own cutting-edge facilities adjoining the museum and the heralded Modern Wing overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan with additional buildings throughout an urban campus at the heart of the Chicago Loop.

SAIC Today: Art and Design in the 21st Century

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Providing degrees at the undergraduatepost-baccalaureate, and graduate levels, SAIC offers a broad and dynamic spectrum of study, including Art and Technology Studies; Arts Administration and Policy; Art History, Theory, and Criticism; Art Education and Art Therapy; Fashion Design; Film, Video, New Media, and Animation; Architecture, Historic Preservation, and Interior Architecture; Ceramics; Fiber and Material Studies; Painting and Drawing; Performance; Photography; Printmaking; Sculpture; Sound; Visual Communication; Visual and Critical Studies; and Writing. A comprehensive program in Liberal Arts emphasizes the critical role that humanities, mathematics, and sciences play in artists' development.