The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
When selecting prospective students, what factors are considered by your admissions staff? (e.g. grades, portfolio, class rank, etc.)
SAIC seeks students who have a strong interest in pushing themselves and the boundaries of their work. We are interested in individuals who demonstrate artistic and creative potential, as well as eagerness and a passion to become a part of and contribute to our community. We will be looking for sparks of artistic and academic preparation that will allow them to successfully articulate their personal ideas in visual, verbal and written formats.
What do you look for in a prospective student’s portfolio?
The portfolio should include 15-20 examples of the applicant’s best and most recent work. It should demonstrate a willingness to explore and to experiment with both idea and technique. Within the work we are looking for a sense of expressiveness, self-motivation, confidence, maturity, focus and/or enthusiasm. We prefer to see personal work and/or work that stretches or in some way personalize the classroom assignment. Strongly recognized portfolios tend to work in the direction of series or themes that allow the student to explore as well as illustrate their ideas and skills.
What kinds of things are you looking for in an interview with a prospective student?
Though we do not require an interview, it is highly recommended. The interview is an opportunity for personal contact and allows us to better counsel and assist the prospective student. This is also an opporyunity for the student to verbalize their concerns, receive assistance and feedback about their work and their educational and artistic goals.
What three things can most likely DECREASE their chances of getting accepted?
- The submission of a portfolio of work copied or rendered directly from photographs and/or the submission of a portfolio with less than 15 examples of recent work.
- Low SAT or ACT test scores or low TOEFL scores.
- Demonstrating an interest in ONLY commercial or technical approaches to art making.
What advice can you provide to students who are trying to get accepted into art schools?
Research is an important key to art school admission. Each art school possesses a unique approach to educating its students. Locate schools whose philosophy is similar to yours. Request catalogs and review a variety of art school websites. Try to visit as many schools as possible so that you get a sense of the campus environment, facilities and student work. Attend admission related events such as National Portfolio Days or information events hosted by the school(s) you are interested in. Have your art instructor contact the school to find out if the college sets up classroom presentations in your vicinity. Directly contact the school yourself and set up an appointment and tour to address your questions and concerns.
Do you have ANY other helpful comments, advice and/or statistics that prospective art students can use?
Use the application process as a way to better understand who you are as an artist and to locate the school that best suits your educational needs. This process allows you to better discover your artistic interests, inspirations and educational and career expectations. It also allows you to locate areas that you might need to work on prior to admission to that particular school. Be open to criticism during this time period.
Explain the similarities and differences between getting accepted into your undergraduate vs. your graduate program.
There are more differences than similarities between applying to the undergraduate program and applying to one of the eleven graduate programs offered at SAIC.
At the graduate level, there are deadlines for each of our master’s programs. Also, with the exception of the MFA in Writing, the MA in Art History, Theory and Criticism and the Professional Certificate in Art Education, SAIC does not offer spring admission. The portfolio requirements for the MFA in Studio are also very different. MFA applicants must demonstrate technical skills in the area (department) to which they are applying, and they must also present a cohesive, focused body of work that evidences strong conceptual investigation. The last major difference is that the staff members of the Admissions Office are not voting members of the review committee for the graduate programs. Only the full-time faculty teaching in the areas of study make decisions on interviewing or admitting candidates, as well as awarding the Trustee Merit Scholarships for the graduate programs.