English for International Students

International students are vital to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). You bring diverse experiences and perspectives that encourage us all to question our assumptions, imagine new possibilities, and embrace a global outlook. Some undergraduate international students take English for International Students (EIS) classes before starting their Liberal Arts and Art History classes. EIS classes focus on developing academic English proficiency and fluency as it relates to the arts.

International graduate students in the Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts programs may take advantage of free, individual English tutoring offered through the EIS program as well.

Who is Required to Take EIS Classes?

Some international students who speak English as a second language will need to take EIS classes before they start Art History and Liberal Arts classes.

To be accepted into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), see admissions requirements for international students.

Your application materials will be evaluated to determine placement into EIS classes. This may include your school transcripts, test scores, essays, letters of recommendation etc.

You may not need to take EIS if:

You have a TOEFL score of 96 (iBT) or above

You have an IELTS score of 7.0 or above

You have a PTE score of 65 or above

You have an AP English test score of 3 or above

You have an International Baccalaureate (IB) English test score of 5 or above on the higher-level examinations

You have an SAT (after March 2016): Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Component score of 580 or above-

You have an ACT: Reading score of 22 or above

You have a Duolingo score of 120 or above

You have a BA or BS degree from another 4-year college or university

If you are a resident alien, permanent resident, or naturalized citizen of the United States whose native language is not English, you may be placed into Academic Access Program (AAP) courses instead of EIS ones. If you are an international student who has lived and studied in an English speaking country or school for 5 years or more, you may find AAP a better fit for you.

All official test scores must be received by the Admissions Office by the day of International Orientation.

EIS Courses

At SAIC, the EIS curriculum focuses on developing fluency as it relates to the arts. Classes include:

English Language Fluency class improves your reading comprehension and academic writing skills. You will read and respond to art appreciation and art history texts, analyze formal and contextual information, and build competence and confidence in college-level writing and self-editing.

Critique class builds your competence in giving critiques, participating in class discussions, and giving presentations. You and your peers will make and present artwork to the class for discussion.

Tutorials offer ongoing support in language skills and fluency while you are enrolled in Art History and Liberal Arts classes. These small-group tutoring sessions provide additional assistance with language as you begin to take your other academic classes.

Sequence of Courses

Students admitted in Fall 2023, take EIS Fluency and Critique their first semester on campus.  After completing Fluency, you are ready to take Art History 1001 and FYS (EIS). After finishing FYS (EIS), you will take FYS English 1005 and start two semesters of EIS Tutorials. A typical schedule looks like this:

1st Term:  2-3 Studio (often Contemporary Practices), EIS Fluency, EIS Critique

2nd Term: 2-3  Studio (often Contemporary Practices), Art History 1001, FYS (EIS)

3rd Term:  2-3 Studio, Art History I, FYS English 1005, 1st EIS Tutorial

4th Term:  2-3 Studio (often Sophomore Seminar), Art History, Liberal Arts, 2nd EIS Tutorial

For students admitted in Fall 2022 or before, there are two semesters of Fluency and one semester of Critique classes. After completing both semesters of Fluency, you may enroll in Art History and Liberal Arts classes. You will also take two semesters of EIS Tutorials. Tutorials are most effective when taken during the same semesters as FYS English 1001 and FYS English 1005. A typical schedule looks like this:

1st Term: 2-3 Studio, EIS Fluency I, EIS Critique

2nd Term: 3 Studio, EIS Fluency II

3rd Term: 2-3 Studio, EIS Tutorial, Art History 1001, English 1001

4th Term: 2-3 Studio, EIS Tutorial, Art History 1002+, English 1005

  • EIS classes earn college credit. Fluency earns three Liberal Arts elective credits and Critique class earns three general elective credit hours toward graduation. Fluency II earned three credits of Liberal Arts elective credit. Each Tutorial earns 1.5 Liberal Arts elective credits. Some transfer students may need to repeat six general elective credits.

  • Classes are sequential, and you must successfully earn a grade of credit (CR) before moving to the next one. You will start your EIS classes your first term on campus and must continue to take EIS classes until the sequence is completed.

    If you earn a No Credit (NCR) or Withdraw (W), you must repeat the class until you earn credit for it. If this happens, we encourage you to seek assistance through Academic Advising, Counseling Services, and/or the Writing Center.

    If a student does not earn Credit for a third time, then the student will be suspended from SAIC, regardless of performance in studio courses


If you wish to appeal an EIS policy decision, contact the following people in this order:

  • EIS Director
  • Chair of the Liberal Arts Department
  • Undergraduate Chair
  • Academic Review Board

For more information about the program, contact the EIS office at 312.499.4136.

Summer Language Classes for International Students

If you wish, you may start your EIS classes during the summer session. You will not only begin your language requirement, but will also have time to get to know the city, SAIC, and future classmates before fall classes begin.

All international EIS students admitted for fall are welcome to start in summer. Students with a TOEFL score below 85 (iBT) or an IELTS score of 6.5, and all transfer students are especially encouraged to take advantage of these early summer EIS classes.

To start your EIS classes in July, please contact the Director of EIS. Starting your EIS classes in summer is optional and spaces are limited.

To start your EIS classes during summer, you will need to get a Form I-20 AB with a program start date of July.

Please contact the Office of International Affairs at 312.629.6830 or email intaff@SAIC.edu. Your term of admission will be changed to summer and you will be issued an I-20 form to begin your degree program in summer instead of fall, starting with EIS classes. For questions about the EIS program itself, please call at 312.499.4136 or email English For International Students saic-EIS@saic.edu.

EIS Summer Important Dates to Remember

$300 tuition deposit due

May 1, 2023


June 30, 2023

Move into the Residence Hall

July 6, 2023

International Student Orientation

July 7, 2023

Classes begin

Monday, July 10, 2023

Classes end

Friday, August 18, 2023

Fall 2023 Welcome Week

August 27-August 29, 2023

Fall 2023 Classes Begin

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Please note: You are required to attend Welcome Week, which is scheduled for the end of August for all incoming students.

EIS Summer Schedule

The summer session starts Monday July 10, and ends Friday, August 18, 2023. Each class will meet three days a week for six weeks, for a total of 45 hours. Each class counts as three credit hours toward graduation.

EIS Critique classes will meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

EIS Fluency I classes will meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons from 1:00–4:00 p.m.

For more information about your language requirements and the EIS classes, please contact call 312.499.4136 or email English For International Students (saic-EIS@saic.edu)


    Summer EIS 2023 tuition and fees charges are separate from Fall 2023 tuition and fees charges.



    EIS Summer Tuition (2 three-credit hour classes)


    EIS Summer Housing and Meal plan fee


    EIS Summer Health Insurance


    Total cost for EIS Summer


    Full payment of your balance is due no later than Monday, July 10, 2023.

    You can see your summer charges on SAIC Self-Service. For information, please go to our Manage Your Student Account page.

    If you have any questions about your bill, please contact Student Financial Services at saic.sfs@saic.edu.

  • Summer classes cost the same as fall classes. Additional cost for books or art supplies is not included in the cost of tuition.

    Please note: International students that have been awarded a Merit Scholarship by the Admissions Department will not be able to use the awards until Fall 2023.

  • Online Applications for Summer 2023 housing will be available in April 2023.

    All first-time freshmen are required to live in SAIC's beautiful residence hall located at 162 North State Street. Chicago's numerous museums, galleries, theaters, and places for musical entertainment are within easy walking distance of the School. Students participate in SAIC's meal plan and may also prepare meals in the kitchen facilities provided in their rooms. Students supply their own cooking utensils, including pots and pans. Residents must also supply their own linens, including towels, pillows, blankets, and sheets.

    Living in the residence hall gives you a chance to interact with other students in an informal setting. The Residence Life staff also plans many activities and programs to foster a sense of community and to help you get to know each other, the city, and SAIC.

    For more information about your room go to the Summer Housing Information page.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Update: SAIC may require COVID-19 vaccines for all students who intend to be on campus. Students living in the residence halls may need to  submit proof to SAIC that they are fully vaccinated. 

  • All international students are automatically enrolled in SAIC’s student health insurance plan while participating in the school's programs. If a new international student enrolled in EIS classes for the summer semester has outside health insurance coverage through a plan that provides benefits equal to or better than SAIC’s student health insurance plan, an online health insurance waiver may be submitted at saic.myahpcare.com by July 10, 2023.

    Each submitted online waiver must be accompanied by a scanned copy of the front and back of the student’s health insurance ID card. Additionally, international students must submit a scanned copy of their complete insurance policy in English, with coverage amounts reflected in US dollars, as well as a scanned copy of their medical evacuation and repatriation coverage.

    Note: The online summer waiver form is for the summer term only. Students wishing to waive insurance for the fall and spring semesters must complete a separate online waiver by the first day of classes at saic.myahpcare.com. Questions can be directed to SAIC_StudentInsurance@saic.edu.

English Tutoring for International Graduate Student

SAIC offers free, individual English tutoring for International Grad students. Tutors will help you:

  • Edit papers
  • Prepare for critiques
  • Practice presentations
  • Talk over class assignments
  • Discuss ideas
  • Go over grammar
  • Engage in conversation
  • Rehearse for an interview
  • Improve pronunciation

To schedule your tutoring appointment, please contact the director of EIS at 312.499.4136 or English for International Students saic-eis@saic.edu.

Contact Us

English for International Students

Lakeview Building
116 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603

Phone: 312.499.4136