Semester at SAIC

SAIC welcomes official international exchange partners and Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) exchange students to study in Chicago for one semester. Interested students should consult with the exchange advisor at their home school to confirm eligibility. AICAD exchange has been paused for academic year 2023/2024. We will provide updates on the application process as the exchange program resumes.

For Spring 2024 term, incoming student applications from SAIC exchange partners are due October 20, 2023. Please review the information below for more details regarding the specific application processes.

We will continue to review guidance related to COVID-19 protocols and consult with professionals in our planned destinations and communicate any necessary adjustments, including cancellations, with program participants.

How to Apply

To apply for an Exchange Semester at SAIC through one of our official exchange partners, you will first need to be nominated by your home institution during the nomination period. For spring 2024 term nomination period is September 20 through October 1, 2023.   

After we receive your nomination, an online application link will be shared directly with the students who are nominated by their home schools. 

All applications must be submitted online, via Slideroom. 

The online application via Slideroom is comprised of the following items:

  • Application form 
  • Academic transcript in English (submitted as pdf file)
  • Statement of purpose/ Artist Statement, outlining reasons for wanting to study on exchange at SAIC
  • A copy of the identification page from the student’s passport (submitted as pdf or jpeg file)
  • Portfolio of current studio work with a description of works including title, media, and date. No more than 15 items of media (supported formats: pdf files, images, videos, audio files)
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty who are personally familiar with student and work (submitted as pdf files)
  • List of classes the student is interested in taking. We will use this list of classes to initially enroll accepted students when registration opens.
  • If English is not a student’s first language, evidence of proficiency (e.g. IELTS or TOEFL or other English language proficiency test results). In some instances, a telephone/video interview may be required. (submitted as pdf files) 

You can preview entire application here

Application deadline for the Spring 2024 term is October 20, 2023. The application review process is typically completed within a couple of weeks after the deadline. Decisions are communicated to the advisor and student by email. 

Course Selection

SAIC’s exchange program is non-cohort based and students can and should take courses across SAIC's many departments. Incoming exchange students enroll in courses with other SAIC students, space is subject to availability. We cannot guarantee in advance that particular classes will be available. It is unlikely you will be able to take all of your courses in one department, and we encourage you to review course options across all departments.   

Exchange students must take at least 12 SAIC credits, typically four classes, each semester. Official transcripts will be sent to your home school after completion of the exchange semester. 

All incoming exchange students will automatically be enrolled in one 3 credits Global Advanced Research Studio course as a cohort, and this course is required.

  • All exchange students will be enrolled in and required to take a Global Research Studio–Advanced with SAIC faculty member Monika Niwelinska. This course will count as 3 credits and is studio based.

    Global Research Studio is an Interdisciplinary Research and Practice course required for international and AICAD exchange students who are new to SAIC, but have already completed a substantial amount of advanced level or independent coursework. Students enrolled in this class will utilize both traditional and experimental research methodologies, access the many archives and resources available at SAIC and across Chicago, and participate in a vigorous studio-based critical dialogue about their studio work with a global awareness. The course will encourage students to make connections between this class and their respective areas of studio interest or specialization – through recognition of global identities (otherness and representation, deconstructing difference, decolonization), global contextualization, global art history and it's asymmetries, as well as subject driven themes in global contemporary art: place, time, memory, materiality, body, identity, language, science, among others.

    To make engaging art requires the artist to recognize the cultural context of their time, to think critically in regards to that context, and to make art or design works in response. The more an artist or designer seeks to problematize and add greater complexity to what interests them, the more polyvocal their practice will become.

After You’re Accepted

If you are admitted as an international exchange or mobility student, your admission email will contain specific details and forms regarding important next steps. 

That said, you may have some questions regarding some of the common topics below.


Exchange students must take at least 12 SAIC credits, typically four classes, each semester, and a it is recommended not to take more than 15 credits, typically five classes. Keep in mind that one of your classes, 3 credits, will be Global Advanced Research Studio this a is required course. 

Once you receive your initial enrollment based on the course selection you listed in your application, you will be able to make changes to your schedule. Until the end of the first two weeks of the semester (the “add/drop” period), you will have the opportunity to change your classes with the permission of instructors, possibly joining classes which were previously full. 

Housing and Transportation

Study Abroad office will provide resources for housing options but cannot make any housing arrangements for you. Housing and transportation arrangements are the responsibility of the incoming student. While SAIC has residence halls, these rooms are typically booked by full-time students and not available for exchange or mobility students. 

Immigration Matters

Incoming exchange and mobility students holding citizenship outside the United States attend SAIC on a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. To obtain this visa, students must first request a certificate of eligibility (form DS-2019) from SAIC Study Abroad. You will receive details on the DS-2019 application process after acceptance.

With a DS-2019 in hand, students begin the visa application process. The first step is to pay a U.S. government fee called the SEVIS fee, and receive a receipt. Payment may be made online

After paying the SEVIS fee, students can make a visa appointment at their nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy. Information about application materials, wait times for scheduling an interview, and associated application fees can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs.


SAIC Study Abroad hosts an orientation program for incoming exchange and mobility students. The orientation program is typically one day and is held shortly before the start of the fall and spring semesters. Admitted students will be sent orientation details, including date and time, in their acceptance materials. Since attendance at orientation is mandatory, incoming students are asked to plan their travel accordingly.