Semester Away

SAIC encourages students to explore the world beyond Chicago. One option for gaining this experience is to participate in a semester or year-long study abroad program. Preparation for study abroad can be both exciting and challenging. The Study Abroad office encourages students to share their goals for international education with family, friends, and SAIC advisors as early as the interest sets in. Specifically, it’s wise to inform SAIC Academic Advisors and Student Financial Services Advisors so that study away can be considered as you build your academic and financial plans.

To be eligible for a study away program, undergraduate students must:

  •  be enrolled full-time

  • have completed at least 30 credits at SAIC including upper-level studio work

  •  have completed their Contemporary Practices courses

  • have completed or are on track to complete thier Sophomore seminar  

  • be in good standing

 Junior or senior status is highly recommended however it is not uncommon for Sophomores to pursue a semester away, especially in their second semester of the Sophomore year. A semester away through one of SAIC's official exchange programs is one option to fulfill the six-credit off-campus study requirement. During the program, students are enrolled at SAIC and continue to pay SAIC tuition. All the financial aid and SAIC merit scholarships that student receives towards their tuition will remain in place during their term abroad.

An information session for Spring 2024 semester-long exchange was hosted on Friday, December 8. You can access the session’s recording via this link.

Program Options

SAIC maintains exchange partnerships with art schools throughout the world. These partnerships allow students to continue enrollment at SAIC while studying at a partner school located abroad. 

  • International exchange programs are immersion experiences. SAIC students take mainly studio classes alongside local students, in the local language. For many programs, advanced foreign language skills are recommended. SAIC and Partner Schools maintain a reciprocal exchange and on average exchange one to three students per partener school per term. Residence hall accommodation is typically not available through the host school, participants are responsible for researching and securing their own accommodations in the host city. 

  • As a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), SAIC participates in the AICAD Exchange Program. This program gives students the opportunity to maintain enrollment at SAIC while studying at any number of AICAD schools located throughout the United States and Canada. Participation is limited to one semester only and not all AICAD member schools accept exchange students. For more information on individual AICAD schools, visit

    AICAD exchange program is resumed for Academic Year 2024/2025. Following AICAD schools will participate in the exchange:

    • Alberta University of the Arts
    • ArtCenter College of Design
    • California College of the Arts
    • Cleveland Institute of Art
    • Columbus College of Art and Design
    • Emily Carr University of Art and Design
    • Kansas City Art Institute
    • Laguna College of Art and Design
    • LASALLE College of Art (Singapore)
    • Maine College of Art & Design
    • Maryland Institute College of Art
    • Massachusetts College of Art & Design
    • MIlwaukee Institute of Art & Design
    • Minneapolis College of Art & Design
    • NSCAD
    • OCAD U
    • Otis College of Art & Design
    • Ringling College of Art & Design
    • University of the Arts

  • Affiliate Tuition Transfer Partners provide SAIC with partnerships in the regions SAIC does not have exchange partnerships. Affiliate Tuition Transfer Schools offer a variety of course/program options and allow for a larger number of students to pursue a semester away each term. Students studying at Affiliate Tuition Transfer Schools maintain enrollment at SAIC during their program.

  • Students wishing to study away in a particular location or school that is not covered by an existing exchange or affiliate partnership may have the option to do an Independent Study Abroad. Independent Study allows students to apply to, enroll in, and pay the host program or school directly. Students on Independent Study Away may be required to take a Leave of Absence (LOA) from SAIC, and all credits must be approved in advance as transfer credit by the Academic Advising Review Board. Meet with your Academic Advisor to talk about the permissions process if you are planning on pursuing independent study abroad. For a directory of study abroad programs and scholarships visit

Research Your Options

Students are encouraged to begin planning for a study away experience early in their SAIC careers and ideally 12-18 months before travel. As we resume our programs, we know students may have abbreviated timelines and Study Abroad will do as much as they can to support students through the process. Students must attend or review the Semester-Long Exchange Program Information Session before meeting with a Study Abroad Advisor or submitting an application. Below you can find the recording of the information session that was held on December 8, 2023. Study Abroad also maintains a collection of past participant essays that are available for review. If you are interested in reviewing these, please contact Study Abroad office.

Things to consider:

Some of the partner schools have term dates that do not align with SAIC's term dates. Depending on the host school term dates, it may be an easier transition to apply for a spring term abroad instead of a fall term or visa-a versa.

Three of our partner schools only accept applications once per academic year for both fall and spring terms of the following academic year. If you are interested in applying for a term at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (France), The Glasgow School of Art (UK) and Gerrit Rietveld Academy (Netherlands) you MUST apply in the spring. For example, to study at one of these schools in the Spring 2025 term, students must submit their applications to be reviewed by Study Abroad Review Panel in spring 2024 (application cycle for fall 2024 term).

Starting Academic Year 2024/2025 UCL Slade (UK) will only be accepting students for exchange during the fall term only.

Students interested in applying for exchange at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Israel) are able to do so. However, approval may depend on the situation in the region by the time of the exchange as the current crisis is volatile and evolving.

  • Semester-Long Exchange Program Information Session
    August 7, 2023
    View the recording here

    Additional tips when researching programs:

  • Study Abroad strives to make international education an equally viable and accessible educational option for all SAIC students. If you are unsure if study abroad is right for you, we encourage you to meet with a Study Abroad Advisor to discuss any doubts or concerns you may have. In addition, the following SAIC and outside resources may be helpful in building your plan for study abroad:

  • Study Abroad is working with our partner schools to schedule information sessions for SAIC students as a way to provide insight to host schools’ programs and application process. Please access the recordings of previously held info sessions. Please check back on our website for upcoming info sessions, more to come soon. 

    Study Abroad in England, UK: University of the Arts London
    View recording here

    Study Abroad in Australia: The University of New South Wales
    View recording here

    Study Abroad in Germany: Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
    View recording here

    Study Abroad in Australia: RMIT University
    View recording here

    Study Abroad in Germany: Berlin University of the Arts 
    View Q&A document here

    Study Abroad in Italy: Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici (LdM)
    View recording here 

    Study Abroad in the Netherlands: HKU University of the Arts Utrecht
    View recording here

    Study Abroad in France: École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris
    View recording here

    Study Abroad in Scotland, UK: The Glasgow School of Art
    View recording here


Apply to Semester Away

Before applying to the host school/program, students must first apply to and gain approval from the Study Abroad Review Panel. Applications are due the semester prior to the proposed study away period: February 15 for Fall semester away, September 15 for Spring semester away. If the 15th falls on a weekend, we will accept applications on the following Monday. 

Application period for the fall 2024 term will open on January 10. Application deadline: February 15. 

NEW this year: all applications will be accepted only via Slideroom. Please access the application by following this link.

Only complete applications submitted by the February 15 deadline will be considered and reviewed.

Complete fall 2024 semester away application consists of:

– Study Abroad Semester Away Application submitted by the student via Slideroom

– Two letters of recommendation from SAIC faculty submitted by the faculty via email directly at

    • Application form
    • Artist Statement (part of the Application Form)
    • Portfolio (attachments, up to 15 items)
    • Degree Audit (attachment, must be a .pdf file)
      Degree Audit completed by your Academic Advisor. Please plan ahead and make an appointment with your Academic Advisor to obtain degree audit.

  • Two letters of recommendation from SAIC faculty are a required part of your application.  Letters must be submitted by the faculty via email directly at One of the letters of recommendation should be from a full-time faculty member.

Apply to a Host School/Program

Students approved by the Study Away Review Panel meet individually with a Study Abroad Advisor to prepare the host school/program application. Review process, admission rate, and notification timelines differ depending on the chosen host school(s).

After You're Accepted

After acceptance, students will receive information directly from the host school/program and continue to advise individually with an SAIC Study Abroad Advisor. Along with a pre-departure orientation, students can expect the following.

  • The Study Abroad Office will:

    • Assist students in selecting courses that coincide with SAIC degree requirements
    • Register students for off-campus study credit
    • Draft visa support letters as needed
    • Host a pre-departure orientation covering topics such as general health and wellness, emergency response/communication, cultural adaptation, and travel logistics

  • Students who will study abroad will:

    • Respond to host school/program correspondence in a timely manner
    • Utilize Academic Advising and Study Abroad guidance to plan course registration
    • Research host country immigration requirements and apply for necessary visas and/or permits
    • Research and secure housing in host location
    • Research and purchase appropriate transportation to host location
    • Update your address and phone number as needed
    • Meet with medical professionals as needed to discuss the impact of international travel on physical and mental health
    • Meet with SAIC Student Financial Services to discuss any changes or updates to financial aid or payment plans

    While many of the points above will only become relevant after acceptance into a program, there are a number of items you can begin to address now that apply to most all study away programs.

  • Students participating in an international study away program are required to obtain a passport. Passports must be valid for six months beyond the date of your expected return from the program. U.S. passport application and renewal. It is generally the case that students participating in an international study away program will need to apply for a student visa from the host country’s embassy or consulate prior to departure. It is your responsibility to educate yourself on the application process for any and all required visas and to obtain the visa in a timely manner. SAIC cannot apply for or obtain visas for study away students.

  • When preparing to study away, forethought and common sense will go a long way in helping you have the most productive experience possible. Consider how you will manage any known health concerns while you are abroad and educate yourself on what new health and safety issues your chosen study away location may pose. In addition to consulting your own doctors and sharing any concerns with your Study Abroad Advisor, please refer to the following resources:

  • The types of classes available to you during your study away program may differ from what is typically available at SAIC. For example, many of the international exchange programs are offered for studio credit only. You should meet with your Academic Advisor and obtain an updated degree audit so that you know exactly what type of credit you need in order to continue your progress toward graduation at SAIC.

  • For many study away programs, housing is not provided by the host school. You are encouraged to do online research regarding the availability of apartments and commercial student housing in your host city prior to departure, but Study Abroad strongly discourages you from making any financial or contractual commitments from abroad. You are responsible for booking and purchasing transportation to your host city. If you need assistance, you may find working with a travel agent helpful.