The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Updated November 30, 2022 · 3 Min Read

Learn more about the various counseling degree programs available at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design, the original forerunner was destroyed in Chicago’s Great Fire of 1871. Today’s Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 as both museum and school as Chicago was continuing to rebuild. It found a permanent home in 1893 at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street and it remains today as the face of the museum portion of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1991. The School has been highly respected and highly regarded for years. A 2010 survey of art critics conducted by Columbia University proclaimed the School to be the single “most influential art school.” U.S. News and World Report ranked the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) at number two in 2012 among all US graduate programs for fine arts. In 2013, the Global Language Monitor ranked SAIC at number five among all colleges in the US. In 2017, QS World University Rankings by Subject placed SAIC at number seven in the world and fifth in the US.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Accreditation Details

SAIC is a private, nonprofit organization that has been accredited continuously since 1936 by the Higher Learning Commission. SAIC is a charter member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and is fully accredited by that organization.

Several programs are individually accredited as well. SAIC’s Master of Arts in Art Therapy program is fully accredited by the Education and Approval Board of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA).

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The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Application Requirements

Potential students applying for admission into SAIC’s Master program in Art Therapy and Counseling must have an academic foundation in both studio art and psychology. Applicants must demonstrate that they have successfully completed at least 18 credit hours in studio art and 12 hours in psychology. Though it is permissible that applicants currently be enrolled in either or both areas at the time of application, those classes must be completed successfully before any candidate may enter the Master program in Art Therapy and Counseling.

The Department of Art Therapy prefers submission of an online application but does allow applications by mail by individuals unable to complete the application process electronically. The applicant will need to supply a valid credit card number and a current physical mailing address.

• Application deadline for the fall semester is February 1. Applications are not accepted for any spring semester.

• In December and January only, the nonrefundable application fee is $80 for US students, $100 for international students. SAIC offers a 50 percent discount on applications received prior to December 1.

• Each applicant must upload a 500- to 750-word statement of purpose describing the individual’s art focus, reasons for choosing art therapy at the graduate level, future goals and how SAIC’s Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program fits with the applicant’s professional goals.

• SAIC requires an ePortfolio that must be submitted online no later than 11:59 p.m. (CST) February 4. The portfolio should reflect current studio work in the form of up to 15 images, eight minutes of video or a combination of the two.

• All US-based applicants must participate in an on-campus group interview during February or March. Phone interviews can substitute only for applicants residing outside of the US. The school will contact each applicant to register for an interview date after it determines specific group interview dates. The hours for group interview day are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Current MA in Art Therapy and Counseling students make brief presentations to the interview group. Candidates introduce themselves, their relevant work history and their personal art practice. Each candidate has an individual interview with a faculty member as well as a campus tour. Each candidate has opportunity to ask questions of faculty members and current students.

• Applicants must submit a detailed digital file well in advance of group interview day. At the interview, applicants introduce themselves and their work features a digital presentation of their artwork. SAIC has rather stringent guidelines regarding this feature you can review at here. SAIC must receive the applicant’s digital file by February 1. In addition to representation of applicants’ art work, the digital file also must contain a current résumé, detailed summary of experience in human services, official college transcript and two letters of reference.

• International students whose first language is not English or whose degrees are from a university not accredited within the US are required to demonstrate English language proficiency in the form of formal test scores. The minimum acceptable score for Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is 100; the minimum acceptable score for International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is 70.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Tuition and Financial Aid

The total cost estimate for two full semesters – fall and spring – is $51,440. That total includes room and board allowance of $9,590 but does not include the cost of health insurance that every student is required to have. There is no charge for health insurance if the student can show coverage through other means. If there is no other coverage available personally or through the student’s parents, then there will be an additional $1,980 to meet that requirement. SAIC estimates tuition and living expenses for the summer session at $13,590, bringing the total for one year of the two-year program to $65,030 including living expenses. Thus the total for the full two-year program is estimated to be $130,060.

Considering only tuition and required fees without health insurance coverage, annual cost is $50,030 or $100,060 for the full two-year program. All living costs are additional.

Financial aid may be available through SAIC scholarships and grants, Federal or state grants and outside scholarships, international financial aid, student loans and student employment. SAIC maintains a helpful financial aid office to guide students and prospective students through the options available to them.

Curriculum and Benefits

Of the 60 hours required for successful completion of the program, 39 of those hours comprise the art therapy core. Some of the courses within that core are Materials and Media in Art Therapy, Psychopathology, History and Theory of Art Therapy, Counseling Techniques, Assessment and Evaluation in Art Therapy, Group Art Therapy, Cultural Dimensions in Art Therapy, Ethical and Legal Issues, Human Growth and Development and Family Art Therapy. Additionally, the curriculum includes study and practice in Art Therapy Fieldwork as well as credit for the student’s development of the Art Therapy Thesis.

SAIC’s end goal for the Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program is to cultivate influential and compassionate leaders well versed in social and cultural factors involved in combining art making and healing.

See also: 35 Best Master’s Degrees in Art Therapy, Ranked by Affordability

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