sweet or crap?
March 9, 2007 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Art. Does this suck, or is this really a good opportunity?

I applied for an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I was instead offered a spot in their Post Baccalaureate program. I figured it was bullshit, but have since heard that this is actually nicer than some other MFA offers I did receive. What do you know about this program? Is it crap? Is it a stepping stone to an actual MFA from the SAIC? Do you know people who have done it? How many people are offered this instead (I heard very few, but I don't know)? Any insight appreciated...

posted by pissfactory to Education (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I know someone who was offered a similar position at Alfred University (it was just called "special student", but it was to be a gateway to starting the MFA the following year). This person did not accept the offer as she had an MFA offer from another school and got her MFA from there instead. I also know someone who accepted such a position at LSU, but then Katrina hit and she decided she wasn't ready to start an MFA (she did do the special student work though). In both cases, the offer to transfer to an MFA later was genuine as near as I could tell. Also in both cases, the offer was made to give the student a bit more intensive studio experience prior to starting an MFA - in other words I think the selection committees (and I wasn't on them) felt the students were bright and creative but didn't have the traditional BFA experience they wanted.

You haven't said what your other offers are, what your work is in or what your post-MFA plans are, so I can't offer much specific advice. I will say that my guess is that the offer to move to an MFA afterwards is likely genuine. Or at least I can't believe it would be programmatically disingenuous.
posted by Slothrop at 1:43 AM on March 10, 2007

Best answer: Why don't you ask them what the difference is? I'm sure they'd be happy to explain it all to you. It's always better to get the info straight from the source.
If I had to guess, though, I'd say that the post-baccalaureate program is meant to bring potential MFA candidates (whose work is found to be somewhat lacking) up to snuff.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:16 AM on March 10, 2007

Is the faculty the same?
posted by xo at 5:38 AM on March 10, 2007

Response by poster: Asking honestly hadn't occurred to me- as silly as that is.
posted by pissfactory at 5:38 AM on March 10, 2007

Asking honestly hadn't occurred to me- as silly as that is.
L. I think we are all guilty of that from time to time.

Good luck, btw. I'd have given anything to have gone to SAIC wayyyy back when I was going through art school.
Enjoy the experience!
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 AM on March 10, 2007

This may or may not apply, but after I finished my BA, I went back to another university to get a teaching certificate. Though I was taking undergrad level classes, I couldn't technically be considered undergrad since I already had a degree. I was also taking a few graduate level classes as well, but was not enrolled in the MA program. Those of us in this situation were enrolled a program called "post-bacc." My understanding was that my masters level classes were part of the post-bacc program, but, should I move to the MA program, they'd transfer over.

It sounds like a transitional program designed to get you into AIC's MFA program when they have an opening. It sounds like wait-listing, but you get to take classes that apply to your degree when they can enroll you in the MFA program.

I'm sure you have this already, but just for reference, this is what SAIC says.

Also, they say, "The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio program provides students who have an undergraduate degree with an opportunity to expand their work in a large professional fine arts school environment. The two-semester program is designed to help students develop their artistic vision and technical proficiency and produce a strong body of work for the purpose of graduate admissions."

Now I'm interested in what you find out! :) Keep us posted. Oh, and I love love love AIC and Chicago. Congratulations.
posted by santojulieta at 7:34 AM on March 10, 2007

I'm not an art student, but as I live and work in Chicago, I've met a few people who went through the AIC program. It's an expensive program that's often perceived as elitist and condescending.

You want to enter the MFA program and they're asking you to invest in an additional year of instruction before they'll even consider you. And there's certainly no guarantee that they'll accept you after you've completed the Post-Baccalaureate program.

Yeah, the AIC is a cool place and it'd be great to get a degree from them. But as you're after an MFA now I'd go with one of the school's that's already accepted you. Don't waste time and money on a program that doesn't further your overall goal.

Who you study with and the passion with which you pursue your work matters much more than the brand name on your diploma.
posted by aladfar at 8:13 AM on March 10, 2007

Totally agree with aladfar. Even if you do the post-bacc, there's no guarantee that'll you get into the MFA, and furthermore it won't count towards the MFA so you'd be spending at least 3 years there. On the flipside, you might make good connections there, but at $40K+ a year, I'd go elsewhere.

I'd look elsewhere, or reapply next year with a stronger portfolio.
posted by hobbes at 12:34 PM on March 10, 2007

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