School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, located in the heart of downtown Chicago, is among the nation's most elite art schools.  The school was originally founded as the Chicago Academy of Design in 1866 by a small group of artists seeking to maintain a free school with its own art gallery. Unfortunately, the original school did not survive the Great Chicago Fire or the mounting debts that were incurred as a result, and the school was forced to close. From its ashes, however, came the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and a second chance for a school committed to "providing a leading global vision for the education of artists, designers, and others who shape contemporary art practice." Some 127 years later, the name may have changed, but the spirit and mission of the school endures. Its reputation as a leading art school was further validated in 2002 when a poll administered by a panel of art critics through Columbia University declared the institute "the most influential art school in the nation", a characterization consistently reinforced by innumerable distinctions and accolades.

In addition to its impeccable reputation, the school's wide array of programs and its exceptional facilities are a significant factor that have greatly contributed to the school's enrollment, which is currently at an all time high. Among the more notable resources, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the John M. Flaxman Library, the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection, and the Poetry Center all provide a wealth of information to further enhance the learning experience. Furthermore, the Art Institute of Chicago places a high priority in the investment and application of new technologies. Consequently, the school's computer facilities are cutting edge and students and faculty enjoy the support of two major computer resources, the Computer Resources and Technology Center (CRIT) and the Instructional Resources and Media Services (IRMS). Most of all, however, the Museum at the Art Institute of Chicago is the school's greatest resource. Especially known for its expansive collection of Impressionist and American art, the Museum is an integral part of both the school and the Chicago artscape.

Another distinguishing feature of the Art Institute of Chicago is the school’s commitment to being student-centric. The Student Government is a powerful force, offering a voice for the student body, providing funds for numerous campus student groups, and planning myriad events throughout the year. Moreover, the Student Union Galleries, a program providing a professional student exhibition space that is strictly student run, is yet another example of the school’s commitment to its students. Other programs such as Ex TV, F Newsmagazine, and the successful Visiting Artists Program also contribute to the school’s notoriety. Among the many pupils who have enjoyed the school’s offerings are painters Leon Golub, Joan Mitchell, Ed Paschke, and Grant Wood, fashion designers Halston and Cynthia Rowley, sculptors John Chamberlain, Jeff Koons, and Claes Oldenburg, and film maker Orson Welles. Perhaps the truest testament refelcting the school’s achievement was stated by noted art critic and curator, Peter Frank, who declared, “Of all American cities, Chicago has contributed the most solid and distinctive artwork and art thinking. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is at the nucleus of this longstanding distinction.”

The Numbers:

Enrollment:       1,987, undergraduate; 567 graduate

Student Body:   61%  Caucasian
                        21%   Minority Students
                        15%  International students
                         3%   Unknown

                        67% Female, 33% Male
Faculty:            468


Admissions and Cost:

To be considered for the undergraduate program, applicants are required o submit the admissions application, a nonrefundable application fee of $65 ($85 for international students), a portfolio consisting of ten to fifteen examples of recent work, a minimum of five minutes of time-based work or an “alternative” portfolio submission that demonstrates the applicant’s creative intent. A statement of purpose, high school transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores are also required for admission. Prospective students may also apply through the Immediate Decision Option (IDO), which allows students who have submitted all the required admissions materials an opportunity to receive an admissions decision by the end of the IDO day while on campus.

Undergraduate Tuition (06-07)
$28,950 for tuition for the year, or $965 per credit hour; student housing costs $8,600 per academic year for a double room.

Financial Aid:

Need Based- Federal Pell Grant, State Grants, School of the Art Institute Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), and Endowed/ Restricted Scholarships.


Merit Scholarship Process

Admissions counselors review portfolios and forward their recommendations to the Merit Review Committee. From this pool of candidates, the committee selects individuals to receive a limited number of scholarships. There is no separate application for this scholarship but if you want to be considered for a merit scholarship nomination, the School must receive your completed admissions application by March 1.
Tuition Exchange Scholarship
If your parent or legal guardian works at a college that is a member of the Tuition Exchange consortium, you may be eligible to apply for the Tuition Exchange Scholarship at SAIC. Contact the liaison officer at your parent's place of employment to determine your eligibility, and to submit an application to SAIC through the consortium. If eligible, you must apply through the regular SAIC admissions process by February 1, 2006, while simultaneously requesting a Tuition Exchange scholarship at SAIC through your parent's place of employment. Scholarship selections for Fall 2006 are based upon artistic merit and academic achievement. The scholarship amount is determined by the consortium each year. For the 2005-06 academic year, the set amount is $22,000; for the 2006-07 academic year, the set amount is $23,500. The scholarship is renewable annually, for up to four years, upon completion of two-thirds of all credits attempted and a submission of re-certification by your liaison officer to SAIC each year. For a list of member institutions, consult
School of the Art Institute Presidential Scholarships
Presidential scholarships are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional ability upon entering the School and may be renewed each year upon completion of 100 percent of all credits attempted.
School of the Art Institute Recognition Scholarships
Recognition scholarships are available to degree seeking students who demonstrate meritorious portfolios and may be renewed each year upon completion of two-thirds of all credits attempted.
School of the Art Institute Incentive Scholarships
Incentive scholarships are available to degree-seeking students based on many different criteria including merit, academics, and need and may be renewed each year upon completion of two-thirds of all credits attempted. Potential candidates are identified during the admissions process.


Bachelor of Fine Arts:                        Visual and Critical Studies, Studio Arts, Arts with an Emphasis in Writing, Arts with an Emphasis in Art History, Theory, and Criticism, Arts with an Emphasis in Art Education
Bachelor of Interior Architecture

Consecutive Degree Option for BFA and BA in Visual and Critical Studies 

Master of Fine Arts:              Studio Arts, Writing

Master of Arts:                      Modern A History, Theory, and Criticism, Art Education, Teaching, Art Therapy, Arts Administration and Policy, Visual and Critical Studies

Master of Architecture

Master of Interior Architecture

Master of Design                   Designed Objects

Master of Science                  Historic Preservation

Dual degree in MA in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism and MA in Arts Administration

Post-Baccalaureate Degrees
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Writing
Graduate Certificate in Art History, Theory, and Criticism
Special Curricular Opportunities
Cooperative Education
Exhibition Studies
Off Campus Study
Ox-Bow summer school of art
Summer Programs


Admissions Office
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
37 South Wabash
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 629-6100