Student work featuring translucent pyramids

Undergraduate Overview

Contemporary Practices Undergraduate Overview

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's (SAIC) Department of Contemporary Practices combines skill-based instruction with studio-based methods of conceptual exploration and artistic research. All of the courses in Contemporary Practices combine meaning with making. Students are asked to problem-solve through engagement with materials and research methods. The curriculum is designed to:

  • Immerse students in an environment in which studio practice is integrated with the history, theory, and criticism of art, architecture, and design
  • Promote and enact diverse definitions of artists and designers such as maker, critic, writer, intellectual, educator, collaborator, and engaged citizen
  • Integrate the development of each student’s individual voice with an awareness of the context in which that voice is expressed and heard

Coursework in this department is required for all of SAIC’s newest undergraduate students, and is taught by faculty who are practicing artists and designers internationally recognized in their fields.

SAIC Scholars Program

SAIC offers the SAIC Scholars Program with a global, intercultural focus that further immerses students in the academic community at SAIC. Students invited to participate in this program take a set of specially designed courses during their first year at SAIC. Throughout this year-long experience, students engage in specialized discourse and activities, develop mentor relationships with their instructors, and become part of an active and collaborative community. Learn more about the SAIC Scholars Program.

Take the Next Step

Curriculum & Courses
SAIC Scholars Program

Visit the undergraduate admissions website or contact the undergraduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or

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