first-year applicants

BFA and BA Application Requirements

At SFAI, we base our acceptance decisions on a thoughtful review of the entire application. Selection for admission is based on the quality of your overall academic performance, the strength and vision of your portfolio work (for BFA applicants) or of the essay you compose (for BA applicants), and on other artistic or academic achievements and community or professional leadership experience. Applicants must submit all of the forms and application materials listed below in order to be considered for admission.

1. Completed application for admission

Apply using our Online Application.

Please send your supporting application materials to:

Admissions
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Non-refundable application fee of $75

Pay the application fee online by credit card, at the end of the online application.

3. Official sealed transcripts of all high school or other secondary school coursework, both completed and in-progress, or CHSPE Certificate of Proficiency, or GED certificate

All offical high school, college, or university transcripts or equivalency certificates must be sent directly to SFAI from the school, college, or agency in question. SFAI accepts transcripts directly from applicants only if the transcripts have been appropriately signed and sealed. SFAI reserves the right to reject any document that does not meet the appropriate standards and to request an additional copy. Final transcripts indicating graduation will be required prior to the start of classes. 

4. Official SAT or ACT examination results (optional but highly recommended)

Official examination results can be sent directly to SFAI from the College Board, ACT, or ETS. Copies of student score reports (i.e., reports issued to students) are not sufficient.

BFA Applicants (studio art programs)

5. One Letter of Recommendation

The letter of recommendation should come from a teacher or another individual familiar with your abilities and goals, and must be written in English.

You have two options for submission of your references.

  1. You can submit your references online via Slideroom. This process requires you to submit the contact information for each of your references. Once you have submitted your Slideroom application your references will be contacted by Slideroom directly to submit your reference to SFAI.

 OR

  1. Your references can be sent by mail. Your references are welcome to mail these letters directly, or you can include your sealed letters of recommendation with your mailed application.

The SFAI Letter of Recommendation Form should be included with any letters of recommendation sent by mail.

6. Portfolio

Please submit 10-15 digital images or 3-4 video clips for our review via Slideroom (https://sfaiadmissions.slideroom.com), CD or DVD. There is no additional charge for Slideroom submissions.

For additional details on how to prepare your portfolio, please see the Portfolio Requirements page page, or you can also meet and contact and Admission Counselor if you have more detailed questions.

7. Portfolio Inventory Sheet

Please include your name, address, telephone number, and email address at the top of this document.

For each work, include an entry on your portfolio inventory sheet with corresponding numbers and the title, date, medium, and dimensions (height by width by depth, e.g., 21 in. x 42 in. x 36 in.; dimensions given in centimeters are also acceptable). For time-based submissions, please include the total running time for each piece.

You can submit this online via Slideroom or send a printed copy with your portfolio by mail.

8. Artist Statement

BFA candidates should briefly explain the ideas and content of the work in their portfolio. What factors have influenced this body of work? What do you want to accomplish at SFAI in terms of your art making? You may also include artists and outside sources that have influenced you.

You can submit this online via Slideroom or send a printed copy with your portfolio by mail.

BA Applicants (Urban Studies / History and Theory of Contemporary Art)

5. One Letter of Recommendation

The letter of recommendation should come from a teacher or another individual familiar with your abilities and goals, and must be written in English

Your references should be sent by mail. Your references are welcome to mail these letters directly, or you send your sealed letters of recommendation with your remaining application materials.

The SFAI Letter of Recommendation Form should be included with any letters of recommendation.

6. Critical Essay

The Admission Review Committee looks carefully at how your essay demonstrates your writing skills and ability to articulate a personal vision. Please write an essay of 500 to 750 words on one of the three topics below. Online applicants should submit this essay along with the online application, using the instructions in the online application form.

1. What do you see as the role of the contemporary artist in a global society?

2. Write a critical response to a recent encounter you have had with contemporary practices of art or cultural production. You may have seen an exhibition in a traditional space (such as a gallery or museum); you may have attended a performance or a public intervention; you may have come across a web- or text-based project, or something else entirely. Be sure to consider the significance of both the mode of presentation and the content in your account.

3. What is the role of art in urban culture? How, if at all, can art provide critical perspectives on issues of urban social and environmental justice, urban quality of life, community identity, the city as a space of diverse cultural encounters, or other issues? How does the practice of art interact with the production of urban visual culture more broadly speaking?

Transfer Applicants

Please refer to the Transfer Applicants page for additional requirements.

International Applicants

Please refer to the International Undergraduate Applicants page for additional requirements and information.