Credit Hour Change

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is committed to providing a high-quality, affordable, and accessible education and, effective August 18, 2023, we are reducing the number of credit hours required for graduation from our undergraduate degree programs. This change will not affect our graduate program. Here you’ll find the email shared with students. Following you will find the answers to frequently asked questions. If you have further questions, please contact

When will SAIC reduce the number of credit hours?

The reduction in credit hours is effective August 18, 2023, and applies to all current undergraduate students.

Who is eligible to graduate under the 120 credit hour requirement?

All undergraduate students who have completed 120 credit hours and have completed all required courses are eligible to graduate.

Have any other undergraduate graduation requirements changed as a result of this policy change?

Each of the five undergraduate degrees have approached the credit hour reduction in different ways. Students should be in touch with their academic advisors to see how these changes impact their plan of study

Why did we reduce the number of credit hours?

As one of the top art and design schools in the United States, we are committed to providing a high- quality, affordable, and accessible education. We recognize the barriers and challenges students face in order to receive a world-class art and design education, and we believe that this reduction in the number of credit hours will better position them to complete their studies in a timely, cost-effective manner. The pursuit of higher education often comes with a financial burden, and we know that this can cause an enormous amount of stress on not just individual students, but also their families. This change is part of our ongoing effort to make SAIC more accessible and affordable.

How will reducing the number of credit hours affect me as an undergraduate student?

The reduction of credit hours better positions you to graduate in four years—lowering the cost of your education without impacting your ability to gain the knowledge and experience you need to succeed after SAIC.

The credit hour reduction applies to all continuing undergraduate students. SAIC’s Academic Advising staff will work with you individually to determine your course schedule.

How will reducing the number of credit hours affect me as a graduate student?

The reduction to 120 credit hours is specific to undergraduate students completing a four-year degree. It does not affect graduate students.

How will reducing the number of credit hours affect me as an alum?

This change  does not affect those who have already graduated from SAIC.

How will reducing the number of credit hours affect me as a faculty member?

By reducing the number of credit hours required for graduation, we are able to ensure students are intensely focused on their course of study, while still offering them the rigorous interdisciplinary education for which we are known. This will also allow us to keep class sizes to a manageable level for our faculty members—to an approximately 11 to 1 ratio—to allow them to work more closely with the students. We anticipate there will be no significant impact on the number of courses offered or course cancellations each term.

I completed more than 120 credit hours now, but I still need to take a required class. Can I graduate?

In order to graduate, students must have completed at least 120 credit hours and all required classes. SAIC’s Academic Advising staff is meeting one-on-one with students to determine the effect of this change on their course of study.

Who made the decision to reduce the number of credit hours required for undergraduate students?

This decision was a result of prolonged conversations with multiple constituents across the School and is a result of the NEXT strategic plan. We engaged the faculty, staff, students, Faculty Senate and senior leadership in conversations in order to make the appropriate adjustments to graduation requirements without sacrificing the exceptional quality of SAIC’s art and design education that our students expect from us.

I have 120 credits but I haven’t had a chance to participate in the 2023 Spring Undergraduate Exhibition. Can I still participate in the fall?

A student graduating with 120 credits who did not receive an opportunity to participate in the Spring 2023 Undergraduate Exhibition will be given priority to participate in the Fall 2023 Undergraduate Exhibition. To learn more about the undergraduate exhibition, visit Undergraduate Exhibition Information or email to find out more.