Dual Degree: MA in Arts Administration and Policy & MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History

SAIC's graduate dual degree option in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory, and Criticism and Arts Administration and Policy provides students with a means to earn two synergistic degrees as efficiently as possible while maintaining the integrity and high standards of each degree.

Use the accordions (+) below to learn more about the admissions requirements.

Application Deadline: Accepting Applications - $90 Application Fee
Priority Deadline: December 1 - $45 Application Fee
Apply online via Slideroom

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry.

Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline. When you click the "submit" button on the Graduate Application form, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application form is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information.

Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC. Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable.

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Include transcripts both official and unofficial from all universities/colleges from which a degree was obtained or prerequisites were fulfilled. You can attach unofficial transcripts as .pdf or .jpg files in the Educational History section of the application form. If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable.

Transcripts are considered official if sent directly from the degree- or credit-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. Hard copy transcripts are considered official if the documents remain in the registrar's original signed and sealed envelopes. Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to gradmiss@saic.edu. Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

SAIC Graduate
36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

Students admitted to a graduate program who have not received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent are not eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds. 

Please submit two responses in your statement of purpose document:

  • Write a 500 to 700 word statement of purpose that describes the history of your interests and experiences in Arts Administration, your personal and professional motivations and goals, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at SAIC, and thoughts on potential future directions.
  • Write a 500 to 700 word statement that describes your Art History work or research. Discuss how you came to focus on the medium, body of work, or academic area you wish to pursue at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work, and describe how this area of study is particularly suited to your professional goals.

A statement of intent is required for all graduate programs though the content varies by department. You will upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your E-Portfolio.

3 Letters of Reference are required.

You are responsible for securing letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of recommendation from current or former instructors.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via the References section of the application form. In this section you will be asked to provide an email address for each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent from SlideRoom to your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations online.

If your references are unable to provide an online recommendation please contact the Graduate Admissions office at gradmiss@saic.edu.

A current résumé is required.

A resume is required for all graduate programs. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your E-Portfolio.

For the Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Policy program, submit a sample of your critical writing, up to 2,000 words in length. This can be either an essay assignment from a pervious course of study, an excerpt from a longer research paper, or a recently published article.

For the Master of Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art History program, submit a 15 to 25 page critical writing sample that demonstrates knowledge of the field, ability in research, and clarity of argumentation. Submissions should be written on a topic in modern or contemporary art history from the 19th century to the present, but papers dealing with earlier historical eras will be accepted if they are in dialogue with current debates and methods. Additionally, topics dealing with relevant theories and philosophies, visual studies, and film studies will be considered.

Applicants are required to submit an E-Portfolio, though the content varies by department. Please visit your individual program of interest to find details. You must submit a separate E-Portfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an E-Portfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

Submission specifications:

  • Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)
  • Videos: .flv, .wv, .mov (up to 60 MB each)
  • Audio: .mp3 (up to 10 MB each)
  • Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each)

TOEFL: 100 



International applicants are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. You are waived from this requirement if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your native language is English
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a U.S. accredited university
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a university whose primary language of instruction is English

If you do not meet one of these conditions, you must submit official English language proficiency test scores. You are strongly encouraged to schedule a language proficiency test appointment as early as possible in order to receive official test scores prior to the application deadline.

SAIC accepts official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Duolingo. The TOEFL Institution Code for SAIC is 1713. Please upload an unofficial copy of your test score results to the International Requirements section of the application form.

The department conducts interviews by invitation only. Applicants who pass the preliminary review will be invited to schedule an interview in Mid-February. Notification will be sent by late January. For students at a distance or unable to travel, interviews may be conducted remotely.

Dual Degree students writing their thesis in Art History and electing to follow the Design History pathway are expected to take ARTHI 5007 as their methods seminar followed by at least four seminars in the Design History curriculum. Thesis topics should address the history and theory of design or architecture.

Specialization in Design History within the Master of Arts (MA) in Modern and Contemporary Art History 

Graduate students in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism's graduate degree programs may elect to follow a specialized pathway in Design History. Coursework in this specialization focuses on the production of knowledge, discourses, practices, and domains of objects that have been understood to fall under the broad category of design. As with the MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History degree as a whole, seminars and research topics focus on the modern and contemporary periods.

Students following the Design History pathway will study the theories and practices of design and examine the conception, production, interpretation, and consumption of design.

MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History students electing to follow the Design History pathway are expected to take ARTHI 5007 as their methods seminar, followed by at least four seminars in the Design History curriculum. Thesis topics should address the history and theory of design or architecture.

Recent graduate seminars and courses in Design History include:

  • ARTHI 5101: Theories of Things: Art/Design/Object
  • ARTHI 5111: Urbanization and Its Discontents
  • ARTHI 5122: Critical Terms in Modern Architecture
  • ARTHI 5547: Typographic Modernity & Print
  • ARTHI 5571: Design and the Body
  • ARTHI 5575: Extraordinary Bodies: Disability/Art/Design
  • ARTHI 4547: Biopolitics and Data Visualization
  • ARTHI 5480: Vernacular, Colonial, Global: Modern Architecture at the End of Empire
Curricular Requirements for the Design History Pathway 36 credit hours total
ARTHI 5007: History of Art History 3 credit hours
4 graduate seminars (5000-level) in Design History


12 credit hours
Global Issues seminar (5000 level) that focuses on art worlds outside of Europe and North America or focuses on Global Art Theory.

A list of courses that satisfies this requirement is available from the department every semester

3 credit hours
2 additional seminars in Art History 6 credit hours
2 interdisciplinary electives (4000-6000 level) or additional Art/Design History seminars 6 credit hours
ARTHI 5999 and ARTHI 6999 Thesis sequence in second year 6 credit hours
Completion of thesis  

Degree requirements and specifications

  1. Completion schedule: Students have a maximum of four years from entry into the program to complete coursework and submit a final, approved thesis. This includes time off for leaves of absence. Credit for Thesis Research and Writing (ARTHI 5999 and 6999) is granted only after the thesis is approved and final copies are submitted to the Department.
  2. Thesis in Progress: Students who have not submitted a finished thesis for review and approval by the end of the final semester of enrollment are given a Thesis in Progress grade (IP). All students with a Thesis in Progress grade (IP) will be charged the Thesis in Progress Fee in each subsequent full semester until the thesis is completed and approved and the grade is changed to Credit (CR). If the statute of limitations is reached without an approved thesis, the grade will be changed to No Credit (NCR).
  3. Transfer credits: A minimum of 30 credit hours must be completed in residence at SAIC. Up to six transfer credits may be requested at the time of application for admission and are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credit will be permitted after a student is admitted.
  4. Curriculum: The program requires 36 credit hours, and each individual course is generally three credit hours. Courses are subject to approval by the Art History Graduate Program Director.
  5. Art History requirement: From the Graduate Seminars and additional courses in Art History, at least one course (3 credit hours) must be taken from the list of courses designated 19th-century art history and at least one course (3 credit hours) designated early-20th-century art history. A list of courses that satisfies this requirement is available from the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism every semester.
  6. Global Issues Seminar: If the Global Issues seminar is also designated as Design History, students may use it to also fulfill one of the four graduate seminars in Design History. In this case, students would then be expected to take 3 Additional seminars in Art History rather than 2.
  7. Electives: Electives can be taken from the following departments and programs without additional approval from the Graduate Program Director: Art History, Theory, and Criticism; Visual and Critical Studies; Arts Administration and Policy; Art Education; and Writing. Graduate seminars and upper-level courses in departments other than those listed above may be allowed as electives, contingent upon prior approval from both the Art History Graduate Program Director and the course instructor.
  8. Internship/Co-op Option: Students have the option of taking up to three hours of credit through the co-op internship program. These credit hours can be taken as part of additional courses or electives, but internship credits never count toward the required number of seminar credit hours.
  9. Full-time Status Minimum Requirement: 9 credit hours

Core Design History Faculty

Shiben Banerji, Design History Coordinator and Assistant Professor, Dept. of Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Michael Golec, Associate Professor, Dept. of Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Bess Williamson, Associate Professor, Dept. of Art History, Theory, and Criticism

The Dual Masters of Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art History and Arts Administration and Policy is a three-year, 63-credit degree that provides students the ability to earn two synergistic degrees while maintaining the integrity and high standards of each degree. 

The curriculum is tailored to combine graduate studies in the history of modern and contemporary art, theory, and criticism, business administration, cultural policy, and curatorial practice. The two resulting degrees, a Master of Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art History (MAAH) and a Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Policy (MAAAP), prepare graduates for positions in museum administration and curating, work in nonprofit organizations, gallery management, academia, and foundation and cultural policy advocacy. Over the course of the curriculum, students have the opportunity for in-depth research with faculty and take advantage of the range of both departments' course offerings. 


World-Class Resources

SAIC students have special access to incomparable resources including the Art Institute of Chicago and its Modern Wing, SAIC’s Flaxman libraries, numerous on- and off-campus collections, and public programs.

Students also have at their disposal a diverse array of arts, cultural and community organizations in Chicago, and have the opportunity to work in partnership with them on a variety of projects sponsored and led by the department’s Management Studio. 

On-Campus Opportunities

Students engage directly with current trends in the fields of art history through numerous events and lectures hosted by the Art History department. The Visiting Artists Program has brought in such distinguished artists as Graham Pullin, Arlene Shechet, Anab Jain, Lewis Hyde, Irene Hofmann, Xaviera Simmons, Kendell Geers, Ron Athey, Beatriz Milhazes, and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle.

Each year, as part of the Lifton Lecture, a prominent scholar presents a public lecture on a topic related to modern and contemporary art history. A theme over the years has been an emphasis on women art historians and their contributions to the field. Students in their final year present their thesis before the department’s faculty and students.

Dual degree students participate in the production of E-merge: journal of arts administration and policy. E-merge is an online journal produced by graduate students in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Master of Arts Administration and Policy and Dual degree programs, featuring collaborations with guest editors from the SAIC Community. The journal is dedicated to fostering creative discussions amongst leading professionals, academics, and students, and provides dual degree candidates with valuable publication and journal-management experience.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.