College Arts Access Program


College Arts Access Program: College Preparation

Learn more by watching this recording of a recent online information session!

The application deadline is Friday, March 26, 2021! The application will be posted soon.

With thanks to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the support of a generous gift from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, SAIC is pleased to announce the College Arts Access Program (CAAP), a three-year college bridge program designed for students dedicated to studying art and design. CAAP prepares CPS high school students with the skills and preparation needed for admission to and success at SAIC, another school of art and design, or any post-secondary institution.

Students accepted into CAAP will enroll in courses offered through the Early College Program (ECP) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Scholarships will be provided to cover program tuition and fees, art supplies, transportation fees, and meal costs. Additionally, the program will provide academic support, financial planning support, advising, and mentorship to form a holistic program committed to the success of each student. CAAP students who apply and are accepted into SAIC's undergraduate program will be eligible for special scholarships and college Work-Study jobs.

Learn more by watching this recording of a recent online information session!

Key Components of CAAP

The CAAP Curriculum: The CAAP curriculum, designed as a sequence of Early College Program courses, seeks to balance creative development with academic progress. CAAP students will enroll in one course each semester (fall, spring, and summer) beginning in the fall semester of their sophomore year though their final spring semester as a senior. Through this multiyear commitment, students advance their academic and creative skills by engaging in a rigorous arts curriculum grounded in SAIC’s interdisciplinary approach. Juniors and seniors in the CAAP program will earn college credit for successful completion of coursework.

Academic Support: CAAP provides academic workshops that strengthen students’ work and study habits, reading, writing, and communication skills. Field trips, visiting artist presentations, and other extracurricular activities will add to the experience and encourage academic excellence.

Advising: Students work closely with a staff advisor throughout the program. The advisor will provide a single point of contact for questions and support and will help students to select elective coursework that relates to their interests and goals.

Mentorship: SAIC undergraduate students with proven leadership skills serve as role models and mentors for CPS students interested in following similar paths. Each mentor is matched with a small group of CAAP students, and they will work together for multiple semesters. Through continued dialogue and interaction, the advisors and mentors will fortify students’ commitment to the program and their work.

Financial support: Holistic financial support is an integral part of this program. Funds are allocated for art supplies, transportation to and from all classes and events, and a meal plan. Students and their families will have access to financial services advisors to guide them through the college application process. Parents and guardians will have the option to attend workshops/webinars that provides information about scholarships, grants, and financial aid applications.


Through a rigorous application process SAIC selects 10 rising sophomores to become CAAP students to begin the program in fall 2021. CAAP students are chosen based on:

  • A demonstrated commitment to academic excellence
  • Interest in pursuing a creative career path at a postsecondary institution
  • Recommendation from a teacher or other academic professional
  • Financial need

The application will be posted soon! Email or call 312.629.6170 with any questions.

2021 Timeline (subject to change)

  • Friday, March 26th, 2021: Deadline for application (students who will be sophomores in fall 2021) 
  • May: CAAP Review Committee will evaluate all eligible applicants and send out communication regarding status on or before the end of May.
  • June: Fall 2020 cohort of CAAP students confirmed
  • September: CAAP orientation
  • October: CAAP students begin their first semester of coursework

For more information about CAAP and the application process, please review the College Arts Access Program—Frequently Asked Questions.