A person wearing a white and red 3D printed garment.

Alisa Maiboroda, Honeycombs and Sea-foam, 2020, 3D printed garment/sculpture, TPU, and PLA, Photo by Loren West, Model Ashlee Gines

Serious Play

Studying as an undergraduate at SAIC is an experience unlike any other. It’s immersive. It’s challenging. It’s mind-opening. It can be messy. It’s also the best preparation you can have for life after graduation. That’s because SAIC has designed a unique education rooted in experimentation that develops creative people into resilient, adaptable problem solvers and critical thinkers who can ride the wave of the future.

Students working individually in a sprawling studio space with large windows showcasing downtown Chicago architecture.

What Can I Study at SAIC?

SAIC’s most popular undergraduate degree is the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio, which gives you the freedom to study across 13 art and design disciplines, or to emphasize art education or writing. We also offer academic degrees.

Two people wearing green protective smocks while heating up metal in a furnace.

What Makes SAIC Different?

Undergraduate study at SAIC is a carefully designed system of interconnected parts that work together to build on your passion for art and design. Each component of your program helps you discover your voice and develop a practice that engages with the world beyond the studio. 

The SAIC Building Blocks

    Freedom to Explore

    The work you make at SAIC starts with an idea. What do you want to say or delve into? The media you use will help you embody that idea. That’s why it’s important that you have the freedom to explore beyond a single medium. Combine painting with fashion design, or discover a new passion for sound art.

    A student using a microscope in a lab.

    Photo by Grace DuVal

    Structure and Support

    You’ll have close mentorship and advising as you explore, so you can be deliberate in the path you design for yourself. And SAIC’s structured first-year programs give you a strong foundation for rigorous experimentation and a creative mindset that questions assumptions and connects strands.

    Two students working at a table with a computer and other various technology.

    Photo by Grace DuVal

    Critique-based Assessment

    We want you to take risks with your work. That's why we use a credit/no-credit grading system, which emphasizes constructive feedback through critique-based assessment. Through regular crits, you’ll also learn how to talk about your work and the work of your peers.

    A classroom full of students facing a professor and projector.\

    Career Development

    You can gain experience through our internship program, the largest arts-related program in the country. Professional-skills courses and SAIC’s CAPX career development experts give you a solid foundation. And a faculty of practicing artists and designers—once emerging artists like you—are ready with advice.

    A person sitting with students at a table.

    An image from the Chicago Scholars Meet & Greet. Photo by Dan Williamson.

    A student painting with bright red and blue on a large canvas.

    Photo by Tony Favarula.

    Immerse Yourself

    Creative Spaces

    We want you to have a truly immersive experience of making. Each week, you’ll focus on your practice for extended periods in unique facilities like bio art labs, 3D visualization studios, and our vast museum collection.

    “Choral” combines visuals depicting reefs with a musical score designed to spark curiosity about the underwater coral ecosystem. (Courtesy Northwestern University)

    Adjunct Associate Professor Marlena Novak's “Choral” combines visuals depicting reefs with a musical score designed to spark curiosity about the underwater coral ecosystem. Image courtesy Northwestern University via WTTW.

    Expand Your Vision

    One-third of your courses engage with ideas from science, social sciences, and humanities. This focus on critical thinking and research fuels your artistic growth. With options like The Lives of Birds that explores avian metaphors and Monsters & Colonization, which examines contemporary media, SAIC’s liberal arts offerings provide thought-provoking topics to deepen your perspective and sharpen your skills beyond the creative.

    A group of students sitting at a campfire by the lake in Saugatuck, Michigan.

    An image of the Ox-Box School of Art & Artists' Residency from the Ox-Box website.

    Beyond Campus

    Study Off Campus

    Off-campus study is required at SAIC. Among your options: Explore art and design during short faculty-led study trips across the US and abroad, spend a semester abroad, or study at the Ox-Bow School of Art in rural Saugatuck, Michigan. 

    iew of SAIC Galleries open stairwell with patrons viewing artwork and walking around galleries

    Show Your Work

    Undergraduate Exhibitions

    Each fall and spring, students show their work at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Undergraduate Exhibitions. Featuring impressive work by talented SAIC seniors, these exhibitions are on view and open to the public at SAIC Galleries in the heart of downtown Chicago.

    Special Opportunities

      SAIC Scholars

      SAIC Scholars is a special program that gives you a chance to fulfill studio and off-campus study requirements with a trip to Siena, Italy, as well as opportunities for extra studio electives and a hybrid studio/academic course in your sophomore year. There's no separate application process. Scholars are selected based on their SAIC admission application.

      A large group of students walking in Siena, Italy.

      Photo courtesy of Erin Larocque.

      Visiting Artists

      SAIC's Visiting Artists Program brings leading contemporary artists and thinkers to campus for lectures, screenings, and readings. An added perk: Visiting artists sometimes stop by students' studios for discussions and critiques.

      Alok Vaid-Menon speaking against colorful background

      Alok Vaid-Menon Lecture, Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium, March 2018. Photo: Grace DuVal

      Curatorial and Exhibition

      SAIC has several exhibition spaces that present work by renowned and emerging artists—including students—and also function as teaching galleries. The galleries, in the heart of downtown Chicago, give you opportunities to develop curatorial skills and gain experience preparing your work and managing the installation process.

      A student installing a large, black metal frame in an open gallery.

      Henrik Vibskov Paper Folding and Installation 2019

      The Level Up Grant

      As an SAIC student, you may be eligible for a Level Up Grant—funds that support your course-based or independent project. All undergraduate and graduate students in any discipline can apply for up to $500 in funding for anything from special materials to travel assistance.

      A group of students writing and making on brown parchment paper in an open gallery.

      Photo by Grace DuVal