Bachelor of Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Writing

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The BFA in Writing (BFAW) degree at SAIC emphasizes a process-based approach to creative writing—one in which students experience writing across genre and in interdisciplinary and hybrid modes. Fully integrated into SAIC’s studio departments, you will explore the relationship between language and visual art by connecting writing to comics, graphic novels, artist’s books, painting, performance, film, sound, and gallery installations.

As a BFAW student, there are numerous immersive experiences for you to take advantage of and you will participate in either or both the BFA thesis exhibition and the BFA in Writing reading. Students can gain understanding of editorial and production work through involvement in Mouth, the annual BFAW student-run literary journal, or Fnewsmagazine, our award-winning student newspaper. Students are also encouraged to attend the readings and workshops by the Writing Department-sponsored Visiting Writer and Artist Lectures, special events such as Publishing Panel presentations, and MFAW Graduate Lectures. In addition, students in the writing department have access to a wide variety of campus resources.

The BFA in Writing degree curriculum includes:

  • Contemporary Practices (first year) course sequence
  • Introduction to Writing as Art
  • Two-semester literature survey
  • Writing workshops for prose, poetry, comics, plays, and hybrid projects
  • Generative seminars with multi-genre topics such as: artist books, literary monsters, and electronic writing
  • Undergraduate thesis workshop— a small, intensive class in which students conceive, generate, and revise a creative project of their choice
Featured Alum
Gabe Bump Headshot

Gabriel Bump, BFAW 2014

Author of Everywhere You Don’t Belong (2020), winner of the 2020 Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and a selection as one of the 100 most notable books of 2020 by the New York Times. Currently Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina.

Gabriel Bump Interview

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

To apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), you will need to fill out an application and submit your 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.

The portfolio for the Bachelor of Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Writing may consist of one or a combination of the following:

  • 10 pages of poetry
  • 20 pages of prose (fiction, creative nonfiction, or drama)
  • 10 pages of a graphic novel
  • Optional visual portfolio if you also engage in studio practices (5 digital images)

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with an Emphasis in Writing students follow an individualized curricular pathway that allows them to explore a wide range of possibilities for writing and integrating text with the visual arts. Here are the requirements you must meet to earn a BFA with an Emphasis in Writing.

Total Credit Hours  126
Writing Core Curriculum 24 
  • HUM 2001 Literature Survey I (3)
  • HUM 3002 Literature Survey II (3)
  • WRIT 1102 Intro to Writing as Art (3)
  • WRIT 2040 Writing Workshop (3)
  • WRIT 3140 Advanced Writing Workshop (3)
  • WRIT 4001 Generative Seminar (6)
  • CAPSTONE 4900 Undergraduate Thesis for BFAW Seminar (3)
Studio  39
  • CP 1010 Core Studio Practice I (3)
  • CP 1011 Core Studio Practice II (3)
  • CP 1020 Research Studio I (3)
  • CP 1022 Research Studio II (3)
  • SOPHSEM 2900 (3)
  • PROFPRAC 3900 (3)
  • Studio Electives—May include additional Writing courses (21)
Liberal Arts  39
  • ENGLISH 1001 First Year Seminar I (3)
  • ENGLISH 1005 First Year Seminar II (3)
  • Humanities (12)
  • Social Sciences (9)
  • Natural Sciences (6)
  • Liberal Arts Electives (6)
Art History   12
  • ARTHI 1001 World Cultures/Civilizations: Pre-History to 19th Century Art and Architecture (3)
  • Art History Elective at 1000 level (3)
  • Art History Electives (6)
General Electives—Studio, Liberal Arts, Art History, and/or BFAW courses  12

Transfer Students

Total credits required for minimum residency: 66
Minimum Writing Studio credit: 42