Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Visual and Critical Studies degree program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) allows you to pursue in-depth academic study in the creative environment of an art school. During your work, you will draw connections between the visual arts and history, philosophy, psychology, and the natural sciences.

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Take a student-led tour of our state-of-the-art facilities & residence halls, and meet with an Admissions counselor while on campus.


To apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), you will need to fill out an application and submit your standardized test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. And most importantly, we require a portfolio of your best and most recent work—work that will give us a sense of you, your interests, and your willingness to explore, experiment, and think beyond technical art, design, and writing skills.

In order to apply, we must have the following items:

View our Portfolio Requirements by Degree Program for more detailed information regarding portfolios.


Alumni of this program go on to graduate work in the humanities, museum studies, arts administration, art-related law, or pursue careers in communications, teaching, public service, social activism, media production, or journalism.

You will share most classes, including a minimum of 39 hours of studio courses, with students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program, yet also follow a distinct sequence of courses, seminars, and personal research. Core courses provide you with diverse critical methods for exploring the cultural meanings of visual phenomena as they relate to social, economic, and material circumstances. You may choose from a variety of courses in studio practice, art history, writing, and the liberal arts and sciences, with special attention to topics such as visual and media literacy, cultural history and theory, and global studies.