SAIC Scholars Program

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) Scholars have a unique opportunity to fulfill studio and off-campus study requirements through an academic program whose highlight is an immersive study trip to Siena, Italy. SAIC Scholars are selected based on a holistic review of their admission application. No specialized application is required. Scholars are selected based on:

  • A compelling portfolio of work that demonstrates both conceptual and technical proficiency
  • Academic excellence exhibited through strong high school records
  • A well-organized, thoughtful, and clearly-articulated artist's statement
A student standing outside in an old building.

Program Highlights

Siena, Italy

Students are exclusive participants in a winter or summer term study trip led by Contemporary Practices full-time faculty with research interests, knowledge and experience in the destination and SAIC. The study trip, Living the Past in the Present: the Art of Archive will take place in Siena, Italy. 

Through a partnership with the Siena Art Institute (SART), students will experience the history, tradition, and culture of Siena, Italy's loveliest medieval city, home to numerous Renaissance works of art and architecture, and a wide array of archives, collections, and study centers. Students will develop insight into how historical study may spark their growth as contemporary artists, designers, and visual scholars.

Students are awarded a $3,000 grant to defray affiliated costs, and this trip will fulfill several degree requirements.

Additional Opportunities

  • SAIC Scholar students have the opportunity to choose between specially designated First Year Seminar courses. Students will also take an Advanced Art History survey in their first semester.
  • Students may have the opportunity to take two studio electives during their second semester rather than the one elective typically allotted to them.
  • Scholars will complete a special hybrid studio/academic course during their sophomore year which satisfies a key degree requirement.
  • Scholars who successfully complete the scholars course requirements will have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor’s degree “with Distinction” upon graduation, and their transcripts and diploma will reflect this achievement.
  • More information on the Scholars program for continuing students can be found via our SAIC Scholars Program website.

SAIC Scholars Program Q&A

Will I be taking more credit hours than my peers during the fall and spring semesters of my first year?

No. SAIC Scholars students take up to 15 credits in their fall semester and up to 15 in the spring semester. However, within the first 2 years (by the fourth semester), they will have the opportunity to participate in a 3-credit hour winter interim or summer study trip for studio credit. In total, they will likely take 33 credits during the academic year in which the trip occurs.

What is the studio/making component of the winter study trip?

Students will have a common workspace (mostly for digital and drawing work) at SART, but they will spend much of their time exploring Siena. Studio work will take place after the study trip, and involve two class meetings in Chicago (a working and a final critique) during the spring semester.

Does the study trip fulfill any of my degree requirements?

Yes. The study trip awards three studio credits, and additionally, all SAIC students are required to take six credits of off-campus study. This trip fulfills half of that requirement.

How do I ensure my place in the SAIC Scholars Program?

Spots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. First-time students who are invited are asked to confirm their acceptance by May 1. Information on how to confirm your participation will be included with your invitation to the program. 

A large group of students standing outside the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy.

SAIC Scholars Brochure