The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Students who choose to pursue their arts-related education at this fine school will have access to "the largest school-museum campus in the United States."

Located near Lake Michigan, overlooking Grant Park, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago offers undergraduate, post-baccalaureate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of fields. Choices include

  • art history
  • art technology
  • film-making
  • fashion design
  • photography
  • sculpture
  • sound
  • visual communication
  • writing
  • and many more

Student population is usually around 3,200, with students from nearly every country on the planet. Faculty members and visiting instructors are leading practitioners and theorists in their fields. The institute features special collections, exhibitions, lectures and performances.

Photography Program

At The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the undergraduate curriculum is designed with FOUR LEVELS! The program focuses not only on quality education but also on flexibility in course of study and technical expertise. Strong critical thinking and writing instruction are included in every course.

Those four levels are:

"1000 Level" (for beginners)

As the course catalog and Web site explain, there is just on 1000-level class that prepares students for the second-level photography classes.

The first-level class introduces students to:

  • photographic-image making
  • basic theory
  • and significance of photography in society

The 1000-level class concentrates on digital technology but with a focus on possibilities rather than technical proficiency.

"2000 Level"

Classes at the 2000 level are specific to the technical process but also include attention to theoretical ideas, history of photography and contemporary work.

"3000 Level"

At the 3000 level, students move to their "technical and conceptual aims." There is strong emphasis on a rounded curriculum - theory, research and practice. As the Web site explains,

"The most exciting classes at the 3000 level are the Topic classes, which are specific thematic-research interests of the instructor, and are a combination of theory and practice."

"4000 Level"

When students reach the 4000 level in the Photography program the focus is on "self-directed projects, group seminars" and projects with peers and instructors. Courses at this level are designed to prepare the student for the Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibition.

Courses offered during current terms include

  • Introduction to Photographic Image Making
  • Digital Imaging for Photo
  • Black and White
  • and Color

At the 3000 level, classes offered in current terms are

  • Large-Format Camera
  • Digital Media/New Photo
  • Let There Be Light
  • Reverse Photo History
  • Lighting: Studio Practice
  • Independent Project
  • and more

Students who reach the 4000 level work on

  • Advanced Photo/Individual Projects
  • Senior Studio Seminar
  • and Art Brains: Business Smarts.

Summer courses offer a limited selection from this list. Included in the Summer curriculum are Wet Place Workshop and Advanced Photo: BFA Prep Studio.

Graduate Programs

The magazine U.S. News and World Report has ranked SAIC graduate programs third among 220 fine arts graduate programs!

The various studio and academic departments encourage students to "work as multidisciplinary arts practitioners" to challenge students and provide a more extensive experience.

The focus is on preparing the student to work in professional institutions, organizations and businesses, providing a unique combination of theory and practice.

Faculty members directing the graduate programs are also practicing artists and scholars in their respective fields. Students who complete a Bachelor level program and wish to move further in their specific field may choose to enter such advanced programs as the Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies or the Master of Fine Arts in Studio, for example.

The first is designed for:

"Students interested in the scholarly and creative investigation of the production, dissemination, and impact of visual images, objects, experiences, and practices. With the visual as a starting point, students use multiple methods of critical investigation to study the interactions between visual phenomena and their historical, disciplinary, and social contexts."

The MFA in Studio directs the student to "tutorially guided studio practice. Students work with one of 100 faculty advisers from a range of intellectual positions and disciplines. These faculty members guide the student through "an informed dialogue around content, form, theory and professional practice."

Students enter the MFA in Studio from a particular department but still are able to access the entire range of faculty and facilities at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In fact, some graduate students choose to work with an adviser from another discipline, to get a fresh perspective while remaining grounded in their chosen field.

SAIC provides one of the best preparatory environments for serious students of photography.

Contact Details

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
37 South Wabash Avenue
Chicago, Illinois, 60603

Admissions Office: 312 629-6100

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