Master of Fine Arts in Studio
SAIC's highly acclaimed Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio is a 60-credit program that supports creative work, inquiry, and investigation across 12 different departments as part of the advanced preparation of fine arts practitioners. In fall 2023, the Department of Sound and the Department of Art and Technology Studies are merging into Art and Technology / Sound Practices (AT/SP). New applicants can use this pathway to explore Sound work, Art and Technology Studies work, or both. This new synergy creates a place to explore, critique, and imagine the potentials of artistic production through focused study and interdisciplinary experimentation. Visit Art and Technology Studies to learn more about their ethos and courses.
Students have the distinct advantage of gaining in-depth knowledge and competence in a single field of specialization or acquiring advanced competencies across multiple fields of study.
We encourage our MFA Studio students to move beyond their home departments and work with faculty and peers in any area that supports their graduate work and research. Graduate studios for MFA students are spread across campus in clusters that allow for robust interdisciplinary exchange.
Graduate-level courses and topical seminars support individual studio work by exposing students to the larger dialogues around the production, exhibition, and function of art as well as its expanded cultural production and reception. Students design a personalized curriculum by choosing from a wide variety of seminars, courses, and graduate advisors linked to numerous studio, design, and academic departments. Graduate critiques, central to the MFA experience, alternate between discipline-specific panels in the fall semester and interdisciplinary panels in the spring semester.
The purpose of the graduate studio program is to prepare students to enter into their chosen fields of practice or to pursue their unique professional pathways as independent artists or cultural practitioners. It is a rigorous and demanding degree in ways that often exceed the boundaries of the studio. As important as demonstrating perfection of technical skills, articulate communication, and conceptual acuity is a student's ability to demonstrate insight, independence, and a generosity of spirit.
Each of the studio departments at SAIC has a distinct, but porous, culture. Our extraordinary faculty and facilities are at the core of the MFA Studio program, but the exceptionally talented student body drawn from national and international contexts is what makes graduate study at SAIC unparalleled.
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. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three 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 waived or 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:
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 a 500–700 word statement that describes your artwork. Discuss how you came to focus on the body of work that you wish to pursue at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work, and finally describe how the SAIC program(s) to which you are applying is/are suited to your professional goals. Save your statement as a PDF and upload it as an attachment.
A statement of intent is required for all graduate programs though the content varies by department. You will upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your E-Portfolio.
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 email@example.com.
A current résumé is required. A resume is required for all graduate programs. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your E-Portfolio.
Your portfolio should include samples of recent work, preferably from the last two years. Time-based work must be included in your portfolio. This can include audio, video, performance, interactive, installation, or any combination. You must include a total of at least 15 minutes and no more than 20 minutes of time-based documentation. If you are excerpting longer works, please be sure to clearly indicate that fact. Up to 10 still images can also be included if they are equally pertinent to your work. In addition to time-based work samples, you may include related performance notes, scores, diagrams, etc. If documenting your work requires a deviation from these portfolio requirements, please contact the Graduate Coordinator.
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.
- 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)
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 department conducts interviews by invitation only. Applicants who pass the preliminary review will be invited to schedule an interview in Mid-February. Notification will be sent by late January. For students at a distance or unable to travel, interviews may be conducted remotely.
Take the Next Step
Continue to explore the SAIC Sound department website to learn about our curricular offerings, faculty, students, and alumni, visit the Master of Fine Arts in Studio degree program for more detailed information, or schedule a tour.