Freshman Requirements

SFAI is interested in you and who you will become—and that interest begins with the very first inquiry.

Now accepting applications for Fall 2017.

Application Requirements

Acceptance is based on thoughtful review of your application materials:

  • Completed online application, including the $75 non-refundable application fee
  • Portfolio and artist statement (BFA applicants only)
  • Critical essay (BA applicants only)
  • Official high school/secondary school transcript(s) or CHSPE/GED certificate
  • Letter of recommendation (strongly recommended)

Important Dates

Spring 2017 Priority Deadline for Undergraduate Applications

November 1, 2016

Fall 2017 Early Action Deadline for Undergraduate Applications

November 15, 2016

Fall 2017 Priority Deadline for Undergraduate Applications

February 15, 2017

Priority Deadline for FAFSA Cal Grant Deadline (CA residents only)

March 1, 2017

Tuition Deposit

May 1, 2017

Portfolio and Artist Statement

Submit your portfolio and artist statement via SlideRoom

For BFA applicants, your portfolio is a chance to introduce yourself and may include examples of your artwork across several different mediums or artwork you created within one medium. Creative writing, journals, and proposals may also supplement visual submissions.

Show us what you’re made of with 10–15 digital images and/or 3–4 video clips. Please include the Title, Medium, and Date in Slideroom.

For your artist statement, briefly explain the ideas and content of the work in your 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.

Critical Essay

For BA applicants, the critical essay is a chance to demonstrate your writing skills and your ability to articulate a personal vision.

Please write 500–750 words on one of the three topics listed below.

  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?

Include your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of this document. Submit your critical essay as a pdf via email to or via mail to:

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

Letter of Recommendation

Your letter of recommendation should come from a teacher or another individual familiar with your abilities and goals.

You have two options for submission:

  1. Submit the contact information for 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.
  2. Your references are welcome to e-mail the letter of recommendation directly to

Official Sealed Transcripts

Send official sealed transcripts of all high school, college, or university coursework, both completed and in-progress, or CHSPE Certificate of Proficiency, or GED certificate directly to SFAI:

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

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.