The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, commonly known as SAIC, is one of the leading art and design schools in the United States. With its prime location in downtown Chicago and emphasis on studio practice, SAIC has built a reputation for nurturing creativity and innovation.

But is it really a good school? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine SAIC’s academics, student life, career outcomes, and more to help you decide if SAIC is the right fit.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: SAIC is considered one of the top art and design schools in the country and world. It has a renowned faculty, excellent facilities, ties to major art museums, and successful alumni. However, it is also very expensive and competitive to get into.

For the right student, SAIC can provide an exceptional art education in a vibrant urban environment.

Academics and Curriculum

One of the key aspects that sets the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) apart is its strong emphasis on a studio-focused education. The curriculum at SAIC is designed to provide students with ample opportunities to engage in hands-on learning and develop their artistic skills.

Whether they are studying painting, sculpture, photography, or any other discipline, students are encouraged to spend a significant amount of time in the studio, honing their craft and exploring their creative ideas.

Renowned faculty

SAIC boasts a faculty comprised of renowned artists and scholars who bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the classroom. These faculty members are not only accomplished in their own artistic practices but also dedicated to mentoring and guiding students in their artistic journey.

Their diverse backgrounds and perspectives enrich the learning environment at SAIC, providing students with valuable insights and inspiration.

Curricular structure

The curricular structure at SAIC is designed to foster interdisciplinary learning and experimentation. Students have the flexibility to explore various art forms and mediums, allowing them to develop a well-rounded artistic practice.

The curriculum also includes opportunities for students to engage in critical discourse and theory, enabling them to contextualize their work within larger artistic and cultural frameworks.

Facilities and resources

SAIC offers state-of-the-art facilities and resources that support students’ creative endeavors. From well-equipped studios to specialized workshops and labs, students have access to the tools and equipment they need to bring their artistic visions to life.

The school also provides access to an extensive library, exhibition spaces, and collaborative areas, fostering a vibrant and stimulating artistic community.

Student Life

One of the key aspects that makes SAIC a good school is its vibrant and diverse student body. With students coming from all over the world, SAIC offers a truly multicultural environment where students can learn from each other’s perspectives and experiences.

This diversity enhances the learning experience and fosters a sense of community and inclusivity on campus.

Diverse student body

SAIC attracts students from various backgrounds, cultures, and artistic disciplines. This diversity creates a dynamic and stimulating atmosphere where students can collaborate and exchange ideas. Whether you’re interested in painting, sculpture, photography, or any other form of art, you’ll find like-minded individuals who share your passion at SAIC.

Location in Chicago

Located in the heart of Chicago, SAIC offers students unparalleled opportunities to engage with the city’s vibrant art scene. The city itself is a hub for creativity and innovation, with numerous galleries, museums, and cultural events happening throughout the year.

SAIC students have easy access to these resources, allowing them to explore and be inspired by the rich artistic heritage of Chicago.


SAIC provides a range of housing options for students, including both on-campus and off-campus options. On-campus housing offers convenience and a sense of community, with residence halls equipped with facilities such as art studios, common areas, and study spaces.

Off-campus housing provides students with the opportunity to experience independent living in the city, giving them a chance to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of Chicago.

Extracurriculars and events

SAIC offers a wide range of extracurricular activities and events to enhance the student experience. From art exhibitions and performances to workshops and lectures by visiting artists, there are plenty of opportunities for students to showcase their work, gain exposure, and engage with the broader artistic community.

Additionally, student organizations and clubs provide platforms for networking, collaboration, and personal growth outside of the classroom.

Career Outcomes

Alumni success

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has a long-standing reputation for producing successful alumni who have made significant contributions to the art and design world. Many SAIC graduates have gone on to establish successful careers as artists, designers, curators, and educators.

Alumni from SAIC have exhibited their work in prestigious galleries and museums around the world, and have received recognition and awards for their artistic achievements. The success of SAIC alumni is a testament to the quality education and resources provided by the school.

Internship opportunities

SAIC recognizes the importance of practical experience in helping students bridge the gap between theory and practice. The school offers a wide range of internship opportunities to its students, providing them with valuable real-world experience in their chosen fields.

These internships allow students to apply their knowledge and skills in professional settings, network with industry professionals, and gain insight into the demands of their future careers. SAIC’s strong connections with local and national arts organizations, galleries, and design firms ensure that students have access to a diverse range of internship opportunities.

Career preparation services

SAIC provides comprehensive career preparation services to help students navigate the transition from academia to the professional world. The school’s career services office offers guidance and support in areas such as resume and portfolio development, job search strategies, interview preparation, and networking.

SAIC also hosts career fairs and workshops, inviting professionals from various industries to share their insights and provide valuable advice to students. These services and resources are designed to equip SAIC students with the necessary tools and knowledge to succeed in their chosen careers.

Admissions and Cost

Extremely competitive

Admission into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is highly competitive, with a limited number of spots available for each program. The school receives a large number of applications from talented individuals worldwide, making the admissions process quite rigorous.

It is essential for prospective students to showcase their unique artistic abilities and demonstrate a strong passion for their chosen field.

According to the official SAIC website, the acceptance rate for undergraduate applicants is around 50%. However, it’s important to note that acceptance rates can vary depending on the specific program within SAIC.


One of the key aspects of the admissions process at SAIC is the emphasis on portfolio evaluation. Prospective students are required to submit a portfolio of their artistic work, which is carefully reviewed by the admissions committee.

This portfolio serves as a representation of the applicant’s skills, creativity, and artistic potential.

SAIC encourages applicants to submit a diverse range of artwork that showcases their technical abilities, conceptual thinking, and artistic growth. The portfolio is considered the most crucial component of the application, and a strong portfolio can greatly enhance the chances of acceptance into the school.

Very high tuition

Attending SAIC comes with a significant financial commitment. The tuition fees at SAIC are among the highest in the country for art schools. As of the academic year 2021-2022, the tuition for full-time undergraduate students is approximately $49,310 per year for domestic students and $52,960 per year for international students.

It’s important for prospective students and their families to carefully consider the financial implications of attending SAIC. Scholarships, grants, and financial aid options may be available to help offset the cost of tuition.

Scholarship opportunities

SAIC offers various scholarship opportunities to help make education more accessible for students. Scholarships are awarded based on a range of criteria, including academic achievements, artistic talent, financial need, and diversity.

The school is committed to supporting talented individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Prospective students are encouraged to explore the SAIC website for more information on the available scholarships and the application process. Additionally, it’s recommended to research external scholarship opportunities and financial aid options to further supplement the cost of attending SAIC.

Overall, SAIC is known for its highly competitive admissions process, portfolio-focused evaluation, high tuition fees, and scholarship opportunities. Prospective students should carefully consider their artistic abilities, financial situation, and dedication to pursuing a career in the arts before applying to SAIC.


SAIC offers a one-of-a-kind art school experience, blending rigorous studio training with the vibrancy of downtown Chicago. For students seeking an immersive art and design education surrounded by world-class museums and galleries, SAIC is a top choice.

However, the benefits come at a steep cost. SAIC is very expensive and extremely competitive to get into. The unorthodox curriculum also isn’t right for every student.

By examining SAIC’s key strengths and weaknesses, you can determine if it’s the right fit for your goals, talents, and budget. SAIC grads gain access to an acclaimed network of alumni and thrive in creative careers. But it requires an immense commitment of time, money, and effort.

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