graduate application process

MFA Applicants

MA Applicants

Low-Residency MFA Applicants

Post-Baccalaureate Applicants

Dual Degree Applicants

International Appicants

 


MFA Applicants

Admission to the MFA programs is highly selective and may involve a personal interview for those candidates who have been recommended by the Graduate Faculty Review Committee. The following materials are required:

1. Completed application for admission.

Apply using our Online Application.

Please submit your supporting documentation according to the directions below. To submit your application materials by mail, please send to:

Admissions

San Francisco Art Institute

800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Non-refundable application fee of $85

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


3. Official sealed transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, both completed and in-progress

Completion of an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution is required for all domestic applicants. International applicants must document the equivalent. Transcripts must be sent directly to SFAI, or submitted by the applicant in an envelope sealed by the institution. High school/secondary school transcripts are not required.

4. Two Letters of recommendation

Letters should come from art professors or artists familiar with your work and your goals, and must be in English.

You have two options for submission of your references.

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

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 recommendations sent by mail.

5. A highly accomplished portfolio of artwork

Portfolios for the MFA programs should include a cohesive body of work that, while demonstrating your interests and ideas, also communicates substantial conceptual risk-taking, rigorous thought, and familiarity with the historical and contemporary contexts for artistic production. The portfolio should focus on work from the past two to three years. Rather than documenting your overall development as an artist or striving to convey too broad or diverse a range of work, you should display your best and most recent work. In general, showing a small body of outstanding work is preferable to showing a large mixture of work at varying levels of accomplishment.

Creating Your Portfolio

Your portfolio may include work from a single medium, like painting, or may be interdisciplinary. It may include examples of painting, drawing, digital media, mixed media, photography, film or video, printmaking, sculpture, or documentation of performances or installations. This list by no means exhausts the various possible combinations of media. Aim to create a cohesive body of work that is exemplified in your portfolio. Approach the development of your portfolio as you would a solo exhibition of your work; think about the organization, documentation, and ordering of your portfolio so that it creates the experience of viewing the physical work as closely as possible and provides a cogent overview of your practice. If you would like feedback on how to best prepare your portfolio for admission review, please contact the Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions.

Presenting Your Portfolio

Applicants are required to submit portfolios online via Slideroom.

Please submit 12-20 still images or 3-4 video clips (10 – 20 minutes) for our review via Slideroom. There is no additional charge for Slideroom submissions.

6. Artist statement

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

The artist statement should be approximately one page. It should focus on the body of work being presented, and should situate your work historically and theoretically. You may briefly address relevant specific interests and goals, but the priority of this statement is creating a context for the understanding of your portfolio.

Please submit this online via Slideroom, you can include this information within the portfolio submission or attached as a separate document in Slideroom.

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.

Please submit this online via Slideroom, you can include this information within the portfolio submission or attached as a separate document in Slideroom.

Return of Portfolios

Should you choose to submit your materials by mail, please note that SFAI does not return portfolios unless arrangements are made by the applicant to have it returned. Also, SFAI will not be able to store portfolios past the term in which you originally applied. If you would like your portfolio materials returned to you, please include a self-addressed, prepaid envelope or mailer. Should you wish to insure your portfolio, you should make the necessary arrangements for such coverage through the shipping company of your choice. SFAI assumes no responsibility for any damage to portfolios either in transit or during the review process.

 


MA Applicants

Admission to the MA programs is highly competitive. Selection for admission is based on the degree to which your essay and statement of purpose demonstrate your writing skills and ability to articulate a personal vision; on the overall quality of your academic performance; and on your other artistic or academic achievements and your community or professional leadership experience. The following materials are required: 

1. Completed application for admission.

Apply using our Online Application.

Please submit your supporting documentation according to the directions below. To submit your application materials by mail, please send to:

Admissions

San Francisco Art Institute

800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Non-refundable application fee of $85

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


3. Official sealed transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, both completed and in-progress

Completion of an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution is required for all domestic applicants. International applicants must document the equivalent. Transcripts must be sent directly to SFAI, or submitted by the applicant in an envelope sealed by the institution. High school/secondary school transcripts are not required.

4. Two Letters of recommendation

Letters should come from professors or mentors familiar with your academic work and goals, and must be in English.

You have two options for submission of your references.

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

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 recommendations sent by mail.

5. Statement of Purpose

Your statement should explain why you have chosen to study in an art school environment or specifically how studying at SFAI will help you reach your educational and professional goals.

You can submit a printed copy of this statement by mail or it can be submitted online via Slideroom.

6. One or more writing samples

The committee recommends that you submit a body of critical writing, ideally 10 to 20 pages, that includes a critical writing sample from work you’ve done in the past or an essay based on one of the topics provided below. You may also include with your application optional supplemental material as described below.

You can submit a printed copy of your writing samples by mail or it can be submitted online via Slideroom.

Essay Topics

If you choose to write a new essay, please select one of the topics below and compose an essay of 750 to 1,500 words.

  1. What leading role do you see the contemporary artist taking in a global society?

     

  2. Provide a synopsis of a contemporary art exhibition or performance that you have viewed in person. The exhibition or performance may have taken place in a traditional space (for example, a gallery or a museum), or it may have occurred nontraditionally (for example, in a public space, on the Internet, as an intervention, etc.).

     

  3. How might your point of view on urban issues be influenced by working and learning in an environment with artists?

Critical Writing Sample

Your critical writing sample should reflect your critical thinking, research, and writing skills. It can be, for example, a review or essay you’ve written, your senior thesis, an excerpt from a longer research paper, or any other piece of nonfiction writing in which you’ve critically reflected on a particular issue.

Optional Supplemental Material

Though not required, supplemental materials are highly encouraged as a way for you to strengthen your application.

Writing Portfolio: the supplemental writing portfolio may include creative writing (fiction, poetry, drama), scripts, journals, sketchbooks, blogs, spoken-word documentation, sound documentation, and other forms of primarily verbal expression.

 


Low-Residency MFA Applicants

Admission to the Low-Residency MFA program is highly selective and may involve a personal interview for those candidates who have been recommended by the Graduate Faculty Review Committee. The following materials are required: 

1. Completed application for admission.

Apply using our Online Application.

Please submit your supporting documentation according to the directions below. To submit your application materials by mail, please send to:

Admissions

San Francisco Art Institute

800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Non-refundable application fee of $85

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


3. Official sealed transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, both completed and in-progress

Completion of an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution is required for all domestic applicants. International applicants must document the equivalent. Transcripts must be sent directly to SFAI, or submitted by the applicant in an envelope sealed by the institution. High school/secondary school transcripts are not required.

4. Two Letters of recommendation

Letters should come from art professors or artists familiar with your work and your goals, and must be in English.

You have two options for submission of your references.

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

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 recommendations sent by mail.

5. A highly accomplished portfolio of artwork

Portfolios for the Low-Residency MFA program should include a cohesive body of work that, while demonstrating your interests and ideas, also communicates substantial conceptual risk-taking, rigorous thought, and familiarity with the historical and contemporary contexts for artistic production. The portfolio should focus on work from the past two to three years. Rather than documenting your overall development as an artist or striving to convey too broad or diverse a range of work, you should display your best and most recent work. In general, showing a small body of outstanding work is preferable to showing a large mixture of work at varying levels of accomplishment.

Creating Your Portfolio

Your portfolio may include work from a single medium, like painting, or may be interdisciplinary. It may include examples of painting, drawing, digital media, mixed media, photography, film or video, printmaking, sculpture, or documentation of performances or installations. This list by no means exhausts the various possible combinations of media. Aim to create a cohesive body of work that is exemplified in your portfolio. Approach the development of your portfolio as you would a solo exhibition of your work; think about the organization, documentation, and ordering of your portfolio so that it creates the experience of viewing the physical work as closely as possible and provides a cogent overview of your practice. If you would like feedback on how to best prepare your portfolio for admission review, please contact the Associate Director of Recruitment.

Presenting Your Portfolio

Applicants are required to submit portfolios online via Slideroom.

Please submit 12-20 still images or 3-4 video clips (10 – 20 minutes) for our review via Slideroom. There is no additional charge for Slideroom submissions.

6. Artist statement

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

The artist statement should be approximately one page. It should focus on the body of work being presented, and should situate your work historically and theoretically. You may briefly address relevant specific interests and goals, but the priority of this statement is creating a context for the understanding of your portfolio.

Please submit this online via Slideroom, you can include this information within the portfolio submission or attached as a separate document in Slideroom.

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.

Please submit this online via Slideroom, you can include this information within the portfolio submission or attached as a separate document in Slideroom.

Return of Portfolios

Should you choose to submit your materials by mail, please note that SFAI does not return portfolios unless arrangements are made by the applicant to have it returned. Also, SFAI will not be able to store portfolios past the term in which you originally applied. If you would like your portfolio materials returned to you, please include a self-addressed, prepaid envelope or mailer. Should you wish to insure your portfolio, you should make the necessary arrangements for such coverage through the shipping company of your choice. SFAI assumes no responsibility for any damage to portfolios either in transit or during the review process.

 


Post-Baccalaureate Applicants

Admission to the Post-Baccalaureate program is highly selective. The following materials are required: 

1. Completed application for admission.

Apply using our Online Application.

Please submit your supporting documentation according to the directions below. To submit your application materials by mail, please send to:

Admissions

San Francisco Art Institute

800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Non-refundable application fee of $85

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


3. Official sealed transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, both completed and in-progress

Completion of an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution is required for all domestic applicants. International applicants must document the equivalent. Transcripts must be sent directly to SFAI, or submitted by the applicant in an envelope sealed by the institution. High school/secondary school transcripts are not required.

4. Two Letters of recommendation

Letters should come from art professors or artists familiar with your work and your goals, and must be in English.

You have two options for submission of your references.

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

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 recommendations sent by mail.

5. A highly accomplished portfolio of artwork

Portfolios for the Post-Baccalaureate program should include a cohesive body of work that, while demonstrating your interests and ideas, also communicates substantial conceptual risk-taking, rigorous thought, and familiarity with the historical and contemporary contexts for artistic production. The portfolio should focus on work from the past two to three years. Rather than documenting your overall development as an artist or striving to convey too broad or diverse a range of work, you should display your best and most recent work. In general, showing a small body of outstanding work is preferable to showing a large mixture of work at varying levels of accomplishment.

Creating Your Portfolio

Your portfolio may include work from a single medium, like painting, or may be interdisciplinary. It may include examples of painting, drawing, digital media, mixed media, photography, film or video, printmaking, sculpture, or documentation of performances or installations. This list by no means exhausts the various possible combinations of media. Aim to create a cohesive body of work that is exemplified in your portfolio. Approach the development of your portfolio as you would a solo exhibition of your work; think about the organization, documentation, and ordering of your portfolio so that it creates the experience of viewing the physical work as closely as possible and provides a cogent overview of your practice. If you would like feedback on how to best prepare your portfolio for admission review, please contact the Associate Director of Recruitment.

Presenting Your Portfolio

Applicants are required to submit portfolios online via Slideroom.

Please submit 12-20 still images or 3-4 video clips (10 – 20 minutes) for our review via Slideroom. There is no additional charge for Slideroom submissions.

6. Artist statement

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

The artist statement should be approximately one page. It should focus on the body of work being presented, and should situate your work historically and theoretically. You may briefly address relevant specific interests and goals, but the priority of this statement is creating a context for the understanding of your portfolio.

Please submit this online via Slideroom, you can include this information within the portfolio submission or attached as a separate document in Slideroom.

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.

Please submit this online via Slideroom, you can include this information within the portfolio submission or attached as a separate document in Slideroom.

Return of Portfolios

Should you choose to submit your materials by mail, please note that SFAI does not return portfolios unless arrangements are made by the applicant to have it returned. Also, SFAI will not be able to store portfolios past the term in which you originally applied. If you would like your portfolio materials returned to you, please include a self-addressed, prepaid envelope or mailer. Should you wish to insure your portfolio, you should make the necessary arrangements for such coverage through the shipping company of your choice. SFAI assumes no responsibility for any damage to portfolios either in transit or during the review process.

 


Dual Degree Applicants

Applicants to the Dual Degree MA/MFA program must fulfill all application requirements for both the MA and the MFA programs. See the Dual Degree Application Process for more details.

 


International Applicants

In addition to the application requirements listed for MFA, MA, Low Residency MFA, and Post-Baccalaureate programs, international applicants may also be required to submit additional documents for admission review. See the International Graduate Applicants page for more details.