SFAI is focused on the success of the individual and on alternate ways of measuring that success; we carefully review each portfolio based on its individual merits. A portfolio might include examples of painting, drawing, digital media, mixed media, photography, film or video, printmaking, sculpture, or documentation of performances or installations—and this list by no means exhausts the possible combinations.
Present your portfolio in the simplest and most professional manner possible. If you are struggling to narrow your portfolio down to eight pieces, consider what would make sense together on one wall of your room. Rather than trying to show a little bit of everything, select the pieces you feel are strongest overall.
Please send high-quality images of your work that represent it accurately (properly cropped, in focus, and with accurate color representation). We are looking for portfolios that show us your artistic vision, passion, and commitment. If you have questions as you go through the process, feel free to call, email, or meet with us. We are happy to help!
As a college credit–granting program, we want to ensure that every admitted student is prepared for the rigor of PreCollege. It’s important that your application reflect passion and dedication to your art practice. We accept artists from a range of backgrounds, and recognize that not everyone has access to advanced art courses in their region or school. If we feel there is an element of your application that needs improvement, we will contact you and provide you with the opportunity to strengthen that element.
The person writing your letter of recommendation should be able to speak to your creativity, academic performance, maturity, motivation, independence, and potential. It is best if they are someone who has supported you in a learning environment, but it will not detract from your application if the letter is not from an art teacher. We often receive letters from college counselors, school administrators, and teachers who support artistic projects in their non-art courses.
Students are in class Monday–Friday from 9:30 am–4:30 pm, with required studio hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30–6:30 pm
Studio courses are Monday–Thursday, with morning class from 9:30 am–12:30 pm, and afternoon courses from 1:30–4:30 pm. Friday workshops and Art in Context enhance the core schedule. Friday workshops occur Friday morning from 9:30 am–12:30 pm and Art In Context in the afternoon from 1:30–4:30 pm.
Students have the weekends free. There are many social activities planned by housing staff, which students can participate in throughout the week. The campus is also open for students if they need to work on projects in the studios.
During PreCollege, students earn four college-credits if enrolled in PreCollege full time. Faculty members work hard to ensure that assignments and expectations for studio hours are clearly defined, and staff and Teaching Assistants are on-hand to support students through the process. In addition, studio hours create a strong community of artists among students, encourage collaboration and inspiration, and allow dedicated space and time to complete projects.
We will put you on the waitlist if the course you want is full, and will contact you immediately if a spot opens up. Remember that even if you don’t get into your first-choice course, you will have the opportunity to explore new mediums and work with new faculty during Friday Workshops.
In order to have greater flexibility in choosing courses, we recommend applying early, and submitting your Statement of Intent and $100 tuition deposit as soon as possible upon acceptance. One of the enormous benefits of studying at SFAI is the low faculty-to-student ratio. Most courses are limited to only 12 students, and can fill quickly as a result. It is always a good idea to have a “Plan B” in case your first-choice course is full.
The materials you will need are course-specific. Each faculty member develops their own materials’ list, and PreCollege staff send the lists to students approximately two weeks before the start of the program. We ask that you bring all of your materials to the first day of class, so you can begin working right away.
When planning your budget for the program, keep in mind that supplies for most courses cost approximately $250 per course.
Need-based scholarships are available to a limited number of students on a first-come, first-serve basis. We use the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator to determine scholarship award eligibility. If your EFC if less than the total cost of the program ($4,850 for residents and $3,000 for commuters) you are eligible for a scholarship. Unfortunately, the number of students demonstrating need often outweighs our giving capacity. As a result, scholarship recipients receive partial tuition scholarships of $1,000-$2,000. We encourage you to apply for a scholarship with us, but to also look into alternative scholarship opportunities (such as crowdfunding campaigns, scholarships through local businesses, personal art sales, etc.).
Your acceptance to the program is not affected in any way if you apply for a scholarship. We keep the PreCollege application separate from the scholarship application. If you have a question regarding scholarships, please contact PreCollege staff.
Scholarship applications will be available online or by request beginning January 2018. Applications will be reviewed beginning February 1, 2018.
Yes, absolutely. We ask that you provide us with the most recent tax information that you have.
The cost of the program automatically enrolls each student in a $250 weekday breakfast and lunch meal plan at the SFAI Café. The SFAI Café offers a variety of items, including pastries, fruit, sandwiches, burritos, salads, coffee and tea, in addition to daily specials for breakfast and lunch.
Most students living in the residence hall choose to make communal meals, or visit local restaurants. Please plan your budget for weekends and dinners according to your dietary habits. If you have severe dietary restrictions, and are concerned about the meal plan, please contact PreCollege staff.
We have many extracurricular activities planned for you! During the day, we will have lunchtime activities a few times a week. Examples of past activities include: cupcake sculptures, claytionary, live music, sketchbook sharing, or a picnic in the SFAI meadow. After class, the housing staff offer optional activities almost every day, such as karaoke, movie nights, trips to the farmer’s market, thrift-store shopping, a Mission District Taco Crawl, and street-art tours.
We are always excited to have local students at PreCollege. We’re aware that the commuter experience is different from the residence experience, and have developed programming to help build community among all students. In addition to lunchtime activities and studio hours, we encourage you to take advantage of the residence hall activities, which are open to all PreCollege students, regardless of their housing arrangements.
The final exhibition is our time to celebrate the work you created during the program. We display work all over campus, including in the Diego Rivera Gallery home of the historic Diego Rivera mural, and also hold a screening in the SFAI Lecture Hall.
You will be actively involved in all aspects of the exhibition, from creating work and installing it, to discussing your projects with friends and family. In addition to being the last day of Precollege, the final exhibit marks an important step in your trajectory as an artist.
Participation is required for all courses, and not participating negatively impacts final grades.
View past exhibits on our Facebook page, and spread the word about these celebrations far and wide.
Contact us by phone, email, or in person. We are:
We are happy to answer any questions you may have!
415.749.4554 | firstname.lastname@example.org