Low-Residency MFA

The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (Low-Res MFA) program is designed for the 21st-century artist whose work and life demands both a rigorous engagement with an artistic community as well as flexibility, fluidity, and a self-directed approach.

VAS Exhibition and Attendees


Grad Low-Res Brochure Cover

View the MFA Low-Residency Program Brochure

The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (Low-Res MFA) program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) acknowledges that contemporary artists and writers have a fluidity of practice that often adopts strategies that are not specific to any one medium, method, or environment. The three-year program is shaped around the evolving needs of arts practitioners, and is designed for 21st-century artists and writers—those creators on the move. Aligned with SAIC's fine arts graduate program, which is consistently ranked among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, the Low-Res program will prepare you to meet new challenges through a deepened engagement with contemporary issues, theories, and skills.

The Low-Res program extends across various teaching platforms in order to immerse you in both tangible and virtual worlds of thinking and making on SAIC's campus as well as within the communities where you live and work. A large part of the curriculum is focused on writing and studying artist writings in addition to conducting research relevant to your unique practice. Supported by faculty based at SAIC, you will spend spring and fall semesters working remotely in your home studio, paired with an SAIC alumni advisor in your geographic area. Three consecutive summer residencies will bring you and your peers to SAIC to create, construct, and critique work during six-week intensives structured through both studio- and classroom-based courses and symposia.

You will:

  • Develop a set of methods for productive, generative artmaking that are unique to your desires as an individual or as part of a group.
  • Work alongside a rotating roster of internationally recognized artists, writers, critics, curators, and historians to navigate the art world, develop a body of work, and expand upon notions of Attention, Sensation, and Perception.
  • Actively participate in critique through a combination of individual studio critiques, small group critiques, and presentations.
  • Be closely aligned with an SAIC alumni mentor in your area as well as faculty and advisors at SAIC who will introduce you to a wide spectrum of contending positions concerning the production, exhibition, and function of art.
  • Have access to all of SAIC's state-of-the-art resources and facilities during summer intensives as well as be able to use resources at the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center, Renaissance Society, Chicago Cultural Center, and the city's vibrant public art, architecture, and apartment galleries.
  • Graduate with a cohort of colleagues to which you can turn for material, emotional, and intellectual support.

The Low-Residency MFA is designed for practicing artists, working professionals, art educators, and international practitioners who want to participate in an ongoing dialogue about contemporary ideas and issues in art. The program's flexibility accommodates the needs of those who cannot make the commitment to the year-round MFA on-site in Chicago. You will leave the program with the necessary skills to develop your own methodology for generating work within an expanded definition of art that includes real and virtual platforms and a diversity of aesthetic and social contexts.