A colorful acrylic painting depicting abstract

Luba Mendelevich, Untitled, 2021, acrylic, gouache, and latex paint on canvas

Post-Baccalaureate Programs and Professional Certificates

Post-Bacc Programs & Certificates

Grow Forward

The desire to grow and develop does not necessarily subside upon receiving your bachelor’s degree. In fact, for many the desire becomes stronger. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers a Post-Baccalaureate (Post-Bacc) Certificate in Studio in eight academic departments, plus a Certificate in Historic Preservation. Each of these programs draws on the unique strengths of SAIC’s highly regarded studio and academic departments and will give you the opportunity to pursue your studies in a large professional art-and-design-school setting.

Post-Bacc Certificate in Studio

The Post-Baccalaureate (Post-Bacc) Certificate in Studio program provides students who have an undergraduate degree with an opportunity to expand their work in a large professional fine arts school environment. The two-semester program is designed to help students develop their artistic vision and technical proficiency and produce a strong body of work for the purpose of graduate admissions.

Applicants to the program may be:

Individuals with a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science who need an additional year of studio experience to prepare a portfolio

Individuals with a degree in art who wish to pursue work in a medium different from their undergraduate major

International students requiring a year of intensive studio work typical of the United States educational system before beginning a master of fine arts (MFA) program

The curriculum combines the tutorial aspects of graduate school with the formal coursework of an advanced undergraduate program. Students supplement their studio work with two art history classes, a one-semester post-baccalaureate seminar (or equivalent studio work), and an optional studio seminar.

Completion of the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio does not guarantee admission to SAIC's MFA in Studio program. Credits taken while a post-baccalaureate student cannot be counted toward an MFA in Studio degree at SAIC should you later be accepted into that program.

View the Post-Bacc Studio Program Brochure

  • Priority Deadline: December 1 - $45 Application Fee
    Final Application Deadline: Performance and Visual Communication Design programs currently accepting applications - $90 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. (CT) 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 refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your E-Portfolio(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 Admissions
    36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
    Chicago, IL 60603

  • Statement

    Write a 500- to 700-word statement of purpose that describes the history of your interests and experience in your program of choice. Include your personal and professional motivations and goals, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at SAIC, as well as any potential goals for the future.

    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.

    Letters of Reference

    Two 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.


    Your portfolio should include samples of your recent work documented in 15-20 still images, or up to 10 minutes of time-based work, or a combination of the two in which one image is equivalent to approximately 30 seconds of time-based work. Please be sure to include media used and scale (dimensions) of each work in the description section available.

    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)

  • International Language Test Score Requirements

    TOEFL: 85 
    IELTS: 6.5 
    DUOLINGO: 120

    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.

    Special Requirements

    A phone or in-person interview is required. Please contact the Admissions office at 312.629.6100 or gradmiss@saic.edu to schedule an interview to take place between February 25 and April 5, 2020.

  • The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio is a 30-credit hour program designed to help you build a portfolio for graduate school admission. See the specific course requirements below.


    Credit Hours

    Post-Baccalaureate Studio Seminar 


    • Painting students take PBACC 5002 (3)
    • Visual Communication Design students take PBACC 5320 (3) 


    PPBACC 5009 Post-Baccalaureate Projects 

    3–6 credits each semester from any studio area



    3–6 credits each semester from any studio area


    Art History 


    • ARTHI 5002 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art (3)
    • Art History course 2000 level or above (3)


    Participation in two Graduate Critiques  


    Total Credit Hours



    1. Curriculum: The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio program is designed to be a full-time, two-semester program. Any exception to this requirement must be approved by the program chair and the department chair and will only extend to one full calendar year.
    2. Specific courses: Of the 24 studio credit hours, specific courses may be required depending on the department to which the student has been accepted. All post-baccalaureate students should discuss their schedules with the program chair or the department chair.
    3. Full-time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 credit hours

Historic Preservation Certificate

The Historic Preservation Certificate is a 15-credit hour certificate ideal for:

Individuals wishing to embark on a career in the field of historic preservation, or pursue study for personal enrichment.

Current practitioners in the field who want to update or enhance their skill set.

Those considering a Master's-level program who wish to secure foundational competence.

Students bring their prior experience and interests to the service of preservation through studio projects that focus on the adaptive reuse, rehabilitation, or preservation of historic structure(s). In addition, students complete an internship in preservation at an architectural office or other agency or opt to participate in a study trip.

  • Renowned Faculty

    Our faculty are respected professionals committed to preserving and reusing historic buildings, furnishings, sites, and landscapes as well as social inclusion and cultural representation. Their professional affiliations in Chicago and abroad provide a powerful network of connections.

    The Resources of a Leading Art and Design School

    Students benefit from access to SAIC's state-of-the-art facilities and resources, including our Art Institute of Chicago and Ryerson and Burnham libraries—a major art and architecture research collection. Your peer group includes practicing artists and designers from around the globe.

    Chicago: Your Urban Classroom

    Chicago is a living laboratory and program projects involve buildings, sites, archives, and collections relating to rural, industrial, urban, and suburban communities.

    Real World Experience

    Students gain valuable experience through an internship with preservation agencies, conservators, restoration architects or designers of their choosing, or by participating in an SAIC study trip. Other SAIC courses or external professional training may satisfy this requirement.

    Seamless Transition to SAIC's MSHP Program

    Students who successfully complete the certificate program may choose to work with the program director to transfer credits to our Master of Science in Historic Preservation. Twenty-five percent of the degree requirements are satisfied upon completion of the certificate program.

  • The SAIC Historic Preservation Certificate is recognized by the National Council for Preservation Education.

  • Application Deadline: Accepting applications - $30 Application Fee 
    Apply online via SlideRoom

    1. Completed online application
    2. Official college transcripts: A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required.
    3. Statement of intent (completed with online application). Write a 500–700 word statement that describes your work or research. Please be sure to address the following:​
      1. Why you wish to pursue this historic preservation certificate.
      2. Future directions or goals for your work.
      3. Your understanding of preservation, architecture and place-making. (Save your statement of intent as a PDF and upload it as an attachment.)
    4. 2 Letters of reference: A recent employer or educational reference is recommended.
    5. Resume/CV
    6. English Proficiency Scores - for students whose first language is not English, we require proof of English proficiency which may be submitted via one of the following tests: TOEFL: 100, IELTS: 7, DUOLINGO: 120.

  • The certificate includes five courses, totaling 15-credit hours, along with an external practicum, that meets the minimum standards and guidelines promulgated by the National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE), consistent with current standards for architectural education being reviewed nationwide by the American Institute of Architects' Historic Resources Committee.

    Certificate courses fall into six program areas:

    1. Preservation Documentation
    2. Materials Conservation
    3. Architectural History
    4. Preservation Planning
    5. Design Studio Focused on Preservation
    6. Preservation Practicum

    Preservation Documentation - choose 1 from the following:

    Physical Documentation

    Archival Documentation

    Material Conservation - choose 1 from the following:

    Building Conservation Lab

    Historic Materials and Techniques

    Building Diagnostics

    Architectural History - choose 1 from the following:

    History and Theory of Historic Preservation

    Other approved Architectural History course

    Preservation Planning - choose 1 from the following:

    Preservation Planning

    Preservation Law

    Preservation-Focused Design Studio - choose 1 from the following:

    Design Action North Lawndale

    Restoration Design Studio

    Other approved studio course in Architecture or Interior Architecture

    Preservation Practicum - choose 1 from the following:


    SAIC study trip

    SAIC class or other practicum experience, professional training, workshop or course (external to SAIC)

    Click here to view the Historic Preservation brochure.

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Take the Next Step

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7241 or gradmiss@saic.edu.