Application Deadlines




NOV 15


Early Action and Priority Merit Scholarship Deadline (Non-Binding; offers larger merit scholarships, priority housing, and first-semester course registration)

JAN 15


Merit Scholarship Deadline for First-Year Freshmen

APR 15


Final Merit and Application Deadline*

*Applications received after these deadlines will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Submitting Your Application

To apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, please submit your application online through the Common Application.

Application Fees


U.S. Applicants

$85International Applicants

If you are submitting an application fee waiver from your high school or college, please answer "Yes" in the Common App Fee Waiver Section. Please keep in mind you must meet one of the economic benchmarks set by the Common App, and certify your eligibility.

Portfolio Requirements

Submit a portfolio that gives us a sense of you, your interests, and your willingness to experiment, explore, and think beyond technical skills.  There is no one “right way” to construct a portfolio—you choose what to present. Visit Portfolio Requirements by Degree Program for more detailed information regarding portfolios.

We strongly encourage you to meet with us on campus, online, or at one of our events for individualized feedback about your portfolio.

The portfolio you submit for admission is the one that we will evaluate for merit scholarship.

View our portfolio preparation guide for more information.

General Portfolio Guidelines

  • Show us 10–15 of your best and most recent works.
  • Use your portfolio to showcase your interests, skills, and creative potential.
  • You may show us work created across media or focus entirely in one medium.
  • Work can range from observational to abstract.
  • We have no media-specific limitations nor do we present portfolio assignments.

Advice for Developing a Merit Scholarship Portfolio

  • Be bold, experiment, take risks, and be inventive.
  • Show us what makes you different, and the things about which you are passionate.
  • Build a portfolio of thematic work—show multiple pieces that share similar ideas, techniques, or media.
  • Mesh great ideas—political, environmental, and even social concepts within your work.
  • Think about your portfolio as a gallery show you are curating.
  • Highlight work that is consistently expressive, curious, and thought-provoking.

How to Submit Your Work

Upload your work electronically through SlideRoom, which you will access through SAIC's member screen within the Common Application under the Portfolio section.

Guidelines for Submitting Work

Type of Media

Accepted File Types

Preferred File Size


.jpg, .gif, .png

72 dpi, no more than 600 pixels in any direction


.flv, .wmv, .mov

Five minutes total for all submitted pieces



Five minutes total for all submitted pieces

Text Documents

MUST be .pdf

No more than 1mb per .pdf. PDFs may be broken down into multiple documents.


Artist's Statement

Your statement should tell us about the work in your portfolio. Why did you make it? How did you make it? What inspired you to make it? What does your artistic process look like? Share why you are interested in utilizing certain materials, and in which exhibitions you have participated. How have specific experiences contributed to the making of your work?

While there are no word count limitations, we recommend a 250–500 word statement. Construct your essay with care, and pay attention to your grammar and spelling.

If you are applying to the Bachelor of Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Writing, your statement also needs to address how you imagine a studio arts environment will impact your writing practice.

You may submit your artist's statement via the Common Application (within the member-specific questions), or through your SlideRoom ePortfolio submission.


The School of the Art Institute of Chicago considers students who have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent for admission. Your counselor may submit your transcript through the Common Application, Parchment, email or mail:

School of the Art Institute of Chicago  
Undergraduate Admissions  
36 S. Wabash, suite 1201  
Chicago, IL  60603

If your high school diploma(s), certificate(s), or transcript(s) are in a language other than English, please include officially translated transcripts. We recommend students consider and use credential evaluation services that are members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

All admission decisions are subject to evaluation of final high school transcripts, which must be received by August 15 for fall and January 15 for spring.

Test Scores

U.S. residents, and international students whose first language is English or are attending US-accredited high schools abroad, or who have studied in an English-language school for 4+ years or earned 12 or more semester hours of college credit from an English-language university are not required to submit ACT, SAT, or language assessment scores. If you believe your scores provide additional insight into your academic abilities, please feel free to submit them.

International students who do not meet the above criteria need to submit a language assessment from any of the following and must meet the designated minimum scores:

* For the Bachelor of Arts in Art History degree, a 96 TOEFL IBT or equivalent is required.

Test scores may be sent directly to us by selecting our school codes when taking the test.

  • SAIC's ACT Code: 1136
  • SAIC's SAT Code: 1713
  • SAIC's TOEFL Code: 1713

Email or mail scores to: 
School of the Art Institute of Chicago 
Undergraduate Admissions 
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201 
Chicago, IL 60603

Letter of Recommendation

Submit one letter of recommendation written by an instructor or other professional who can evaluate your motivation, commitment, maturity, and potential to succeed at SAIC. If you are currently not in school and cannot locate an instructor or guidance counselor, you may ask an employer or other individual capable of assessing you from a critical perspective.

Your recommender should reference your full name and date of birth, and may submit in the following ways:

  • Electronically through the Common Application
  • Email to
  • Mail to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Undergraduate Admissions, 36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201, Chicago, IL  60603

Pre-College Credit Information

SAIC accepts up to a maximum of 12 credit hours—the equivalent of four courses—for any combination of the following:

Advanced Placement (AP) Credits: 3 college credit hours for each Advanced Placement (AP) score of 3-5 in ALL academic areas (priority) or studio arts.

International Baccalaureate (IB): 6 college credits for any International Baccalaureate (IB) score of 4-7 at the Higher Level (HL) only up to a maximum total of 12 credit hours.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP): 3 credit hours per subject area up to a maximum of 12 credit hours. For each subject area exam, students must earn a score of 50 for that subject. CLEP credits are considered transfer credits and must be submitted prior to the start of the semester.

College Credits (earned in high school): Includes early/pre-college programs or dual enrollment courses with the equivalent of a grade "C" or better. Learn more about SAIC's Early College Programs, which offer college credit!

Cost and Financial Aid

SAIC works to make our world-class art and design education accessible to all students regardless of their economic background. Learn more about tuition, available loans, and how to apply for financial aid on the Cost and Financial Aid section of our site.

Schedule a Portfolio Review

Take the next step and schedule a portfolio review.