Graduate Requirements

Admission to SFAI's graduate programs is highly selective, and it is based on your ability to articulate a personal vision, and your artistic or academic achievements.

MFA, Low-Residency MFA, and Post-Baccalaureate Requirements

The following materials are required:

  • Completed online application, including $85 nonrefundable application fee
  • Portfolio and artist statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official sealed transcripts

MFA and Low-Residency MFA candidates who have been recommended by the Graduate Faculty Review Committee may also be asked to do a personal interview.

MA Requirements

The following materials are required:

  • Completed online application, including $85 nonrefundable application fee.
  • Statement of purpose and writing samples
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official sealed transcripts

Dual Degree Requirements

Applicants to the Dual Degree MA/MFA program must fulfill all application requirements of both the MA and MFA programs. The following materials are required:

  • Completed online application, including $85 non-refundable application fee
  • Portfolio and artist statement
  • Statement of purpose and writing samples
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official sealed transcripts

International graduate applicants are required to submit additional materials. Learn more HERE.

Important Dates

Fall 2017 Priority Deadline for MFA, MA, and Dual Degree

Applications Accepted
on a Space-Available Basis

Summer 2017 Priority Deadline for Low-Residency MFA and Summer Post-Baccalaureate

Applications Accepted
on a Space-Available Basis

Fall 2017 Priority Deadline for Fall Post-Baccalaureate

April 1, 2017

Spring 2018 Priority Deadline for MFA and Post-Baccalaureate

November 1, 2017


Your portfolio should include a cohesive body of work from the past two to three years 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. 

Rather than documenting your overall development as an artist or striving to convey too broad or diverse a range of work, showing a small body of outstanding work is preferable.

You may include examples of painting, drawing, digital media, mixed media, photography, film or video, printmaking, sculpture, or documentation of performances or installations that are from a single medium or are interdisciplinary. This is not an exhaustive list, and you should approach the development of your portfolio as you would a solo exhibition—think about the organization, documentation, and order so that you recreate the experience of viewing the physical work as closely as possible, and provide a cogent overview of your practice.

Submit 2–20 still images or 3–4 video clips (10–20 minutes), indexed with an inventory sheet that lists the following information for each work with corresponding numbers:


Dimensions (height x width x depth)
Running time (if time-based)

Include your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of this document.

Submit your portfolio with inventory sheet and artist statement via Slideroom.


If you would like feedback on how to best prepare your portfolio for admission review, please email email your personal graduate admissions advisor.

Artist Statement

Focusing on the body of work being presented, create a context for the understanding of your portfolio. 

The artist statement should be approximately one page and should place the applicant’s work in the context of art history and theory while focusing on the body of work being presented. Considering your portfolio as a cohesive body of work, your statement acts as a guide through your ideas— working as a touch point for the material and conceptual strategies of your submitted portfolio. You may briefly address relevant specific personal interests and goals, but the priority of this statement is creating a context and framework for better understanding your portfolio. Your personal admissions advisor is happy to offer feedback on your artist statement.  Submit your artist statement with portfolio and inventory sheet via Slideroom.

Statement of Purpose and Writing Samples

Your statement of purpose should be 2-3 pages in length and should address your academic background in relation to the questions that follow: 

Which artists and writers interest you most? Why? Which issues, images, or sites are you most curious about? How so? What role does contemporary art play in society? How will studying the History and Theory of Contemporary Art or Exhibition and Museum Studies in an art school environment help you reach your educational and professional goals? Please provide an example of your academic writing, with citations and bibliography, of approximately 15 pages in length. Ideally, it should be an essay or excerpt from an essay or senior thesis in art history. The writing sample should demonstrate your critical thinking, research, and writing skills. If you have not studied art history, please provide an equivalent example from your work in the humanities.   If you are applying for the Exhibition and Museum Studies program, please feel free to supplement your application with an exhibition proposal or review. Submit a copy of your statement of purpose, writing samples, and optional writing portfolio materials by mail, or online via Slideroom.


Note: required for MA or Dual Degree MA/MFA applications only

Two Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation should come from professors, mentors, or artists familiar with your abilities and goals, and must be written in English.

You have two options for submission:

Submit your references online via Slideroom. This process requires you to submit contact information for each of your references. Once you have submitted your Slideroom application, your references will be contacted directly by Slideroom to submit a letter of recommendation.

Submit your letter of recommendation by mail. Your references are welcome to mail a letter directly, or you can include sealed letters of recommendation with your mailed application.

Official Sealed Transcripts

Completion of an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution is required for all domestic applicants. Send official seal transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, both completed and in-progress, directly to SFAI:

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

High school/secondary school
transcripts are not required.

Final/Official Transcripts and Documents

Students who have not submitted final official transcripts by the end of their first term at SFAI will not be considered officially admitted and will be unable to register for a subsequent term in their degree or certificate program until all outstanding documents have been received. SFAI will return any disbursed Title IV funding to the Department of Education and the student will be responsible for any charges due to SFAI as defined by the financial policies in the Student and Campus Handbook.   


Summer-start students have until the last day of the fall semester following their term of matriculation to submit final official documents.