The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (Low-Res MFA) program is a transdisciplinary course of study designed for 21st-century artists, writers, and educators looking for rigorous engagement, artistic community, and the flexibility of a self-directed schedule.

Taking place over seven semesters, the three-year LRMFA program is shaped around the evolving needs of contemporary arts practitioners. In the program, you will spend three consecutive summer residencies on SAIC’s downtown Chicago campus creating, constructing, and critiquing artwork during six-week intensives structured by studio- and classroom-based courses. Supported by faculty based at SAIC, you will spend the spring and fall semesters in between working remotely in your home studio and taking online courses. The degree culminates in a final exhibition in which significant thesis projects and their written accompaniments are presented to the public.

Bringing together artists across all areas of practice, the Low-Res MFA is primarily a deeply conceptual and discursive program that emphasizes dialogue in community. Study and experimentation in artists’ research and writing, culminating in a final thesis paper, is an important element of the LRMFA curriculum. A large part of the curriculum is focused on writing and studying artist writings in addition to conducting research relevant to each artist's unique practice. 

Summer 2024 Residency Dates:
Attendance is mandatory for the entire six-week residency period as well as orientation.

June 14: New student orientation
June 17: Classes begin
June 19: Juneteenth, no classes
July 4: Holiday, no classes
July 26: Classes end
July 28: Graduation

Black woman with glasses speaking at a podium
Low-Residency MFA

Visiting Artists & Scholars Series

A hallmark of the Low-Res program, the Visiting Artists & Scholars lecture series brings world-renowned artists and scholars from all disciplines to Chicago during the Low-Res MFA six-week summer residency period. Speakers deliver a public lecture open to the entire SAIC and Chicago community. 

Side by side black and white headshots of Gregg Bordowitz and Aliza Shvarts
Low-Residency MFA

10 Years of Low-Res

The Low-Res MFA program celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2024! Founding director, Gregg Bordowitz, will join new director, Aliza Shvarts, for a public on-campus conversation marking the milestone, discussing the program’s origins and exploring the future of arts pedagogy as a mechanism for social change.

Maclean Ballroom, 112 South Michigan Avenue
Thursday, July 25, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

People standing and talking in art gallery
Low-Residency MFA

Low-Residency MFA Info Session & Open Studio Night

Low-Res MFA director Aliza Shvarts will hold an info session for prospective students and answer questions about the program. You are invited to learn more about what the Low-Residency experience entails, and stay after the info session to meet current students during their Open Studio Night.

SAIC Galleries, 33 East Washington Street
Friday, July 26 
Info Session: 5:00-6:00 p.m.

Low Res MFA Studios
Low-Residency MFA

Core Faculty

The Low-Res MFA provides you the opportunity to work with world-renowned practitioners committed to interdisciplinary research and practice. The program is taught by core SAIC faculty as well as a rotating international roster of visiting artists, scholars, writers, critics, curators, and historians, who engage students in seminar, small group, and one-on-one instruction.

Follow Us

Contact Us

Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts Department

37 S. Wabash Ave., 
Chicago, IL 60603


Aliza Shvarts

Assistant Director & Graduate Coordinator

Kelly Kaczynski

Graduate Coordinator

John Neff

Administrative Director

Kaitlyn Albrecht

Administrative Assistant

Jennie Bukowski