San Francisco Art Institute
Program in Fine Arts
San Francisco, California 94133-2299

Established in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute is the oldest school of art west of the Mississippi. Many of the world's leading artists have been associated with it, either as students or as teachers. The Institute has always been dedicated to the exploration and development of new ideas in the visual arts, and it serves the area both as a college and as a showcase for contemporary art. SFAI is a community of artists whose freedom and innovation are supported by dialogue and artistic discipline.

The graduate programs at SFAI had approximately 140 students in 2000–01, more than half of whom were women. The average age of graduate students at SFAI is 31. About 30 percent are California residents, and 20 percent are from overseas. Alumni of the M.F.A. program have achieved international recognition in virtually all areas of visual art.

The Community
SFAI is located on Russian Hill in San Francisco, overlooking Fisherman's Wharf and the San Francisco Bay. The Institute has been at the center of the art community in San Francisco for more than a century. It remains an important part of one of the world's most vital cultural communities.

Programs of study and degree requirements
The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) offers Master of Fine Arts and one-year postbaccalaureate certificate programs in the following areas: digital media, film, painting and drawing, performance/video (new genres), photography, printmaking, and sculpture/ceramic sculpture. All programs emphasize artistic growth and expression within a highly professional community of visual artists.

The M.F.A. program consists of four semesters of full-time study. The M.F.A. program culminates in a comprehensive exhibition of student work. It is expected that M.F.A. candidates will demonstrate a high level of professional accomplishment and artistic resolution in their final exhibition.

The M.F.A. and postbaccalaureate programs at the San Francisco Art Institute are essentially studio oriented. SFAI's basic philosophy is that artistic discovery and innovation are possible only through the intensive practice of one's chosen medium. This process is enhanced through exposure to academic material and a comprehensive visiting artists and critics program, as well as regular critiques from faculty members, all of whom are prominent working artists. The final result of this experience is the emergence of the student as a fully aware artist who is prepared to enter the mainstream of American art.

Facilities & Resources
For the artist, research occurs primarily within the studio. SFAI provides state-of-the-art technical facilities in all areas. Studio facilities on campus are available to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Center for Digital Media (CDM) is the focus of fine art digital imaging. The CDM is a Macintosh-based facility with applications and software appropriate to support art making in all fine art disciplines currently offered in the curriculum. This facility encompasses CD ROM, multimedia, sound, Internet access, and specific applications for printmaking, photography, painting and drawing, sculpture, film and video, and other genres.

All departments have individual studio spaces for graduate students, located off campus at 701 Chestnut Street and at 731 Market Street, in the heart of San Francisco's gallery district.

Academic research is supported by the Anne Bremer Memorial Library at SFAI. The library has 27,000 volumes, including an excellent rare book collection, and subscribes to more than 200 periodicals. International exhibition catalogs are made available to the student as they are published by major galleries and museums. An extensive collection of slides, videotapes, institutional archives, and artists' books further enhances the library's reputation as one of California's most comprehensive facilities for research on contemporary art.

Expenses and Aid
Costs: Tuition for full-time graduate study for the 2005-–06 academic year was $24,560. No part-time study options are available for M.F.A. candidates.

Financial Aid: In addition to government funds, including Federal Work-Study awards, SFAI provides approximately $3 million per year in grants. These funds are available to all degree students on the basis of need. Teaching assistantships and internships are required of all second-year M.F.A. students and include a stipend. The amount of the stipend varies according to the nature of the assistantship or internship. Further information regarding financial aid is available from the Financial Aid Office.

Housing/Living Expenses: There are no graduate dormitory facilities at SFAI. The cost of living in the San Francisco area varies widely according to individual preference and financial resources, but is estimated to average about $12,000 per academic year.

How to Apply
Applicants to the M.F.A. and postbaccalaureate programs must hold a bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited college. Admission to all of the graduate programs is highly selective and is based upon the presentation of a portfolio of original artwork. Specific portfolio requirements vary according to department. Applications are received for entry to either the spring or fall semester. Applicants must file a fee of $65 and all undergraduate academic transcripts before February 15 for the fall semester and before November 1 for the spring semester. Portfolios may be received only during the ten days directly prior to the application deadline.

Who to Contact
Office of Admissions
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, California 94133-2299
Telephone: 800-345-SFAI


In addition to the regular faculty members listed below, there are additional guest faculty members each semester.

  • Steve Anker. Filmmaking.
  • Richard Berger. Sculpture.
  • Bill Berkson. Art history and criticism.
  • Pegan Brooke. Painting.
  • Linda Connor. Photography.
  • Dewey Crumpler. Photography.
  • Jack Fulton. Photography.
  • Ernie Gehr. Film.
  • Sharon Grace. Video.
  • Doug Hall. Performance/video.
  • Pat Klein. Painting.
  • Gordon Kluge. Printmaking.
  • Paul Kos. Performance/video.
  • George Kuchar. Filmmaking.
  • Tony Labat. Performance/video.
  • Shari Lamanet. Painting.
  • Janis Lipzin. Filmmaking.
  • Reagan Louie. Photography.
  • Fred Martin. Art history and criticism.
  • Bruce McGaw. Painting.
  • Ray Mondini. Humanities.
  • Jeremy Morgan. Humanities.
  • Zeese Papanikolas. Humanities.
  • Irene Pijoan. Painting and drawing.
  • John Roloff. Ceramic sculpture.
  • Larry Thomas. Printmaking.
  • Mark Van Proyen. Critical studies.
  • Carlos Villa. Painting.
  • Hank Wessel. Photography.
  • Al Wong. Filmmaking.

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