Application and Admissions Information

  • Priority Deadline: December 1 - $45 Application Fee
    Application Deadline: January 10 - $90 Application Fee
    Apply online via SlideRoom

    SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filling out an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three SAIC programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry.

    Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline. When you click the "submit" button on the Graduate Application form, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application form is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information.

    Under no circumstances will an application fee be refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

  • A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC. Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable.

    Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

    During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Include transcripts both official and unofficial from all universities/colleges from which a degree was obtained or prerequisites were fulfilled. You can attach unofficial transcripts as .pdf or .jpg files in the Educational History section of the application form. If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable.

    Transcripts are considered official if sent directly from the degree- or credit-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. Hard copy transcripts are considered official if the documents remain in the registrar's original signed and sealed envelopes. Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

    SAIC Graduate
    36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
    Chicago, IL 60603

    Students admitted to a graduate program who have not received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent are not eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds. 

  • Write an 800- to 1,000-word statement that describes your work or research. Discuss how you came to focus on the medium, body of work, or academic area you wish to pursue at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work, and describe how SAIC's Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Studio is particularly suited to your professional goals.

  • Two Letters of Reference are required.

    You are responsible for securing letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of recommendation from current or former instructors.

    Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via the References section of the application form. In this section you will be asked to provide an email address for each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent from SlideRoom to your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations online.

    If your references are unable to provide an online recommendation please contact the Graduate Admissions office at

  • A current résumé is required.

    A resume is required for all graduate programs. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your E-Portfolio.

  • If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA in Studio as a studio artist, your portfolio should include samples of your recent work documented in 15 to 20 still images, or up to 15 minutes of time-based work, or a combination of 10 images and 10 minutes of time-based work. Support materials may include notes and scores and other similar items.

    If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA as a writer, your portfolio should include the following samples of your recent writing from at least one of the following genres:

    • 8 to 10 poems with or without critical commentary OR
    • 2 short stories or 2 short excerpts from a novel OR
    • 2 short works of nonfiction or 2 short excerpts from longer fiction essays OR
    • 2 recently published or delivered critical essays or scholarly papers

    If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA as a curator, your portfolio should include the following samples of your recent work:

    • 3 recent or pending curatorial project proposals accompanied by relevant text and images outlining each proposed project

    If you are applying to the Low-Residency MFA as an educator, your portfolio should include the following samples of your recent work:

    • 3 sample syllabi along with support material describing your pedagogical philosophy or your personal artistic practice OR
    • 2 samples of written work in the education field - essays, conference papers, directed creative writing OR
    • 10 to 15 still images of your current studio work with annotated labels

    Applicants are required to submit an E-Portfolio, though the content varies by department. Please visit your individual program of interest to find details. You must submit a separate E-Portfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an E-Portfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

    Submission specifications:

    • Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)
    • Videos: .flv, .wv, .mov (up to 60 MB each)
    • Audio: .mp3 (up to 10 MB each)
    • Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each)

  • TOEFL: 85 

    IELTS: 6.5 

    DUOLINGO: 120

    International applicants are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. You are waived from this requirement if you meet any of the following conditions:

    • Your native language is English
    • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a U.S. accredited university
    • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a university whose primary language of instruction is English

    If you do not meet one of these conditions, you must submit official English language proficiency test scores. You are strongly encouraged to schedule a language proficiency test appointment as early as possible in order to receive official test scores prior to the application deadline.

    SAIC accepts official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Duolingo. The TOEFL Institution Code for SAIC is 1713. Please upload an unofficial copy of your test score results to the International Requirements section of the application form.

  • The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (Low-Res MFA) program acknowledges that contemporary cultural producers have a fluidity of practice that often adopts strategies expanding beyond any one medium, method, or environment. This seven-semester program is shaped around the evolving needs of arts practitioners, and is designed to help them meet new challenges through a deepened engagement with contemporary issues, theories, methodologies, and skills.

    Students participate in three consecutive summers of intensive 6-week residencies at SAIC; fall and spring off-campus semesters with  dedicated mentorship from regional or remote SAIC advisors based on students’ research interests;  remote instruction made possible through online delivery systems; a choice of "flex credit" options that fit each students individual course of study; and a final exhibition in which significant thesis projects will be presented to the public.

  • Each year, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago celebrates the culmination and closure of students' studies at the masters level. In studio areas, the celebration takes place in the form of the thesis exhibition. The academic areas complement this with the publication of students' theses.

    The SAIC Thesis Repository contains theses submitted since Spring 2016.

Take the Next Step

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or