Art Education Undergraduate Overview

You don't have to choose between art and education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). We believe great artists make great teachers.

The interdisciplinary bachelor of fine arts curriculum for undergraduates at SAIC encourages students to prepare for life as boundary-crossing 21st-century artists. While completing an undergraduate art degree, students can also become boundary-crossing 21st-century teachers.

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Students apply to the Bachelor of Fine Arts with Emphasis in Art Education (BFAAE) program in the spring of the sophomore year. While continuing their coursework to develop their artistic practices, students in the program also develop their teaching practices based on contemporary artmaking. BFAAE students graduate with the skills (and license) to teach art, design, and new media in public schools and other settings.  

The Art Education faculty are nationally and internationally known artists and scholars whose own work models a commitment to new forms of art education in which students and teachers creatively and critically investigate today’s issues and make art and culture that is meaningful and transformative for themselves and their communities.

Art Education Courses for Studio Majors and Students Enrolled in Other Programs

Students pursuing bachelor of fine arts degrees in other areas also take Art Education courses to support their work as emerging artists interested in community arts practices, socially engaged art, and teaching artists in schools or museums.

Courses include:

  • Doing Democracy
  • Cultural Approaches to Production
  • Art in the Community

Bachelor of Fine Arts with Emphasis in Art Education

The BFAAE program educates students to become teachers of art, design, and visual culture while continuing to strengthen their own artmaking practices. The Art Education community supports students in becoming engaged and reflective teacher artists whose pedagogical work fosters the emergence of more just and joyous individuals and societies.

The program fulfills requirements to become a licensed PK-12 Visual Arts teacher in the State of Illinois. SAIC's teacher preparation coursework contributes to (and may meet) the teacher licensure requirements for other states and countries. See the Teacher Licensure Disclosures information found at the link below.

BFAAE students have a high rate of securing well-paying teaching jobs upon graduation. (Starting pay for an art teacher in the Chicago Public Schools is $50,000+) The Art Education Department receives more requests for referrals of recent graduates than we can meet. Our graduates build art education careers in schools and other educational settings throughout the United States.

BFAAE Program Guide 2023-24
*See the Testing Requirements section of this page for an update from the ISBE regarding the edTPA

Sample BFAAE Student Agreement 2023

Teacher Licensure Disclosures [PDF]

Below are links to the SAIC Department of Art Education's recent Title II reports. The following information is provided in accordance with Title II of the Higher Education Act, section 207(f)(2):

Admissions Requirements and Curriculum

  • You must meet the following criteria to gain admission to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with an Emphasis in Art Education program:

    1. Admission to SAIC's undergraduate division.
    2. Consultation and transcript analysis with the department's Licensure Specialist before or during the first semester of sophomore year.
    3. Submission of a departmental application during the second semester of sophomore year. Application must be submitted by the first Monday in March for admission in the spring semester to begin coursework in the first semester of junior year. 
    4. Interview with the Director of the BFAAE program.
    5. Teacher candidates begin the art education program during the first semester of their junior year. The BFA with an Emphasis in Art Education program is a four-semester sequence. For a comprehensive list of program requirements, please refer to the BFAAE Program Guide.

    BFAAE Application Requirements

    • BFAAE Application Form 
    • Resume (1-2 pages) Include teaching experiences, other work experiences, exhibitions and other art experiences, awards and honors, and list of competencies in media, equipment, and software. It will be reviewed during your interview with the BFAAE Director so you can receive feedback prior to submission by the application deadline. Contact SAIC CAPX for resume assistance.
    • Portfolio of 12-20 artworks in digital format (images of 2D and 3D work as well as time-based works). Some applicants may have fewer examples of artwork to include due to the timing of the application or if they are a transfer student. Images of 2D and 3D work as well as time-based work may be included. Examples of artwork should demonstrate proficiency in a range of different media and materials, including digital proficiency, as well as show the current focus of your artistic practice and conceptual interests. Prepare your portfolio as a sequence of images in a PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides file. Devote one slide to each artwork/video. If you need to include multiple images for the same piece of artwork you may fit them to one slide if possible. Otherwise, multiple slides may be included to show different features of the artwork if necessary. Each artwork should be labeled with the following information on the slide with the image: Title of work, Date of work, Medium, Materials used, Dimensions or duration.
    • Artist Statement (300-500 words) Provide context for the artwork included in your portfolio by discussing the themes and theories which inform your artistic practice. Elaborate upon the artistic, social, political, or personal relevance of your artwork as well as its material, conceptual and formal attributes.
    • Teacher Mission Statement (300-500 words) Explain why you want to teach art. 
    • One Recommendation: Use the Letter of Reference form included in Application & Instructions packet.  The Letter of Reference form must be submitted by email (by recommender) by the first Monday in March to the BFAAE Director. (See Letter of Reference Form for details.)

    For a comprehensive list of program requirements, please refer to the BFAAE Program Guide.

    Note: Completion of art education program prerequisites does NOT guarantee admission to the teacher preparation program.

  • SAIC’s BFAAE (Bachelor of Fine Arts with Emphasis in Art Education)  program educates undergraduate students (teacher candidates) for teaching art, design, and new media in elementary and secondary schools. Through this 126-credit hour program (the same number required for other BFAs), students become creative, critical and reflective teachers of contemporary art and culture while fulfilling the current State of Illinois requirements for PK–12 Visual Arts licensure. The BFAAE is designed to be a full-time program completed during the final two years of earning an undergraduate degree.

    Coursework in the BFAAE program balances artmaking and learning about the theory and practice of education with experiences of teaching in a wide range of school settings. All education coursework is arts-focused, taught by faculty who combine expertise in art and cultural theory with deep knowledge of teaching. BFAAE teacher candidates continue to take Studio, Art History, and Liberal Arts courses while working toward their teaching degree.

    Interwoven throughout their art and education coursework, teacher candidates experience teaching in elementary and secondary schools in the Chicago area. Teacher candidates observe in schools and other educational settings (such as Local School Council and School Board meetings), design and teach short projects during visits to schools as part of their education coursework, and participate in seven-week Apprentice Teaching placements at the elementary and secondary levels. BFAAE coursework and teaching experiences prepare teacher candidates to work with English Language Learners, to support students in reading in their content area, and to differentiate instruction for students with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.

    BFAAE Curriculum Overview: Students beginning BFAAE coursework in Fall 2021


    60 Credit Hours  

    • Drawing (6)
    • Contemporary Practices Core Studio Practice (6)
    • Contemporary Practices Research Studio I (3)
    • Contemporary Practices Research Studio II (3)
    • Painting (3)
    • Printmaking (3)
    • Ceramics OR Sculpture (3)
    • Sophomore Seminar (SOPHSEM-SPINE) (3)
    • Practices of Art and Design Education in Schools and Community: Teens and Adults, ARTED 3900 (Professional Practice-SPINE) (3)
    • Cultural Approaches to Production, ARTED 4100 (3)
    • Studio Electives* (24)

    *Studio courses must include a minimum of 12 credits of 3000 or 4000 level courses.




    • ARTHI 1001 World Cultures and Civilizations: Pre-History to 19th (3)
    • ARTHI 1002 Survey of Modern to Contemporary Art and Architecture (3)
    • Global Comparative Art History or Global Comparative Visual and Critical Studies (VCS) (3)
    • Art History or VCS Course: Additional elective (3)




    • English (6)
    • Natural Science (3)
    • Math (or another Natural Science) (3)
    • Social Science (6)
    • Humanities (6)
    • Doing Democracy: Schooling in the Anthropocene, ARTED 3125 (3)
    • Becoming Human: Evolving Conceptions of Human Development, ARTED 3021 (3)




    • Practices of Art and Design in Schools and Communities: 

    Children and Youth (3)

    • Practicum: Elementary and Secondary Experiences, ARTED 4390 (3)
    • Apprentice Teaching (Capstone), ARTED 4900 (12)




Qualifying for Teaching Experiences in Schools

Teacher candidates complete 550 hours of preclinical (during core Art Education courses and Practicum) and clinical (during Apprentice Teaching) teaching experiences under the supervision of a mentor teacher in a school setting and a SAIC Art Education Faculty Supervisor.

During the initial BFAAE orientation, teacher candidates will be given information on how to complete the Chicago Public School (CPS) Fingerprint-based background check. If the results of the teacher candidate’s background check do not meet the Chicago Public School district’s standards, the candidate cannot continue in the BFAAE program.

Candidates teaching in schools are considered mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) when observing or teaching in school settings. Candidates must complete the Illinois Department of Human Services Mandated Child Abuse Reporter on-line training and have a record of their completed training on file in the SAIC Licensure Office at the beginning of their teacher preparation coursework (before visiting schools).

Teacher Licensure Requirements

SAIC's BFAAE teacher preparation program is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. The BFAAE degree meets the current requirements for the State of Illinois PK-12 Visual Arts Professional Educator License. SAIC's teacher preparation coursework contributes to (and may meet) the teacher licensure requirements for other states and countries. When requested, the SAIC Licensure Specialist works with graduating teacher candidates to identify steps to investigate how to become licensed in other places.

The State of Illinois Board of Education testing, assessment, and coursework requirements periodically change. As a result, candidates for Illinois licensure may be required to complete a different set of courses, tests, and/or assessments than those noted above if they delay graduation and licensure.

Teacher candidates must successfully complete all of their program coursework, and meet ISBE mandated tests before recommendation for licensure.

Testing Requirements

There are two tests that the Illinois State Board of Education requires teacher preparation candidates to complete and pass during and upon completion of a teacher preparation program. It is important to understand that these tests are mandated by the State of Illinois. The SAIC Department of Art Education is obligated to ensure all candidates have met these legal requirements before recommending the candidate for licensure.

Test 1: ILTS Visual Arts Content Area Test (214)To be completed and passed before Nov 15 of the Practicum semester.Test scores are valid indefinitely.
Test 2: edTPA Clinical Practice AssessmentTo be completed and passed during the Apprentice Teaching semester.*Definitive information on the period of validity of an edTPA score is unknown at this time. Check with SAIC Licensure Specialist.

For information on the current scores needed to meet ISBE requirements, see the BFAAE Program Guide on this SAIC Art Education website or contact the SAIC Art Education Licensure Specialist.

*The Illinois State Board of Education has temporarily removed the requirement of passing the edTPA for teacher licensure. Please review the edTPA Addendum at the link below for more information

edTPA Addendum-ISBE Testing Change August 2023


Title Catalog Instructor Schedule


Section 001: Thesis Fieldwork - The individual student and instructor will meet at agreed times to provide supervision and dialogue relating to the clinical experience. The choice of field site is agreed upon by student, instructor, and site supervisor. Students will spend 12 hours per week for 3 semester hours credit. This course can be taken for 3 or 6 semester hours. Section 002: Career and Professional Experience Elective Internship - Graduate CAPX education and internships in art education allow students to work in part-time, art-related CAPX positions in approved organizations and institutions. Students are assigned a CAPX faculty adviser. Participation requires a total of 210 hours, with a minimum weekly average of 15 work hours with the internship organization. Call the Career and Professional Experience Program at 312/ 499-4130 for further information. Permission to register for this course must be obtained from the director of the CAPX Program.


You must be a Master of Arts in Art Education student to take this course.

Class Number





Art Education


Sharp 403

Upcoming Admissions Events


We invite you to join us on campus for an informative and fun day featuring our "Art School 101" presentation, one-on-one meetings with our faculty and admissions counselors, a guided tour of our state-of-the-art campus and our loft-style residence halls, and a Chicago style lunch for you and your guests!

Saturday, July 27 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. CDT at 280 South Columbus Drive Chicago, IL 60603