Support for research and practice

Art and design research, practice and teaching are central to the graduate experience at RISD, which provides several forms of support to encourage exploration and development in these areas.


Graduate assistantships

Graduate assistantships at RISD provide meaningful and mentored professional training. Most graduate assistantships originate in departments with graduate programs and are assigned by the department’s graduate program director (GPD).

Types of graduate assistantships include:

  • Program-related (exhibitions, lecture series, accreditation and other types of program enhancements)
  • Department-based research
  • Teaching I (high-level assistance of a faculty member in teaching or preparing for a course)
  • Teaching II (as instructor of record)
  • Technical (requiring and developing technical skills for the discipline)

Range of pay: $20-$25 per hour.

  • Assisting a faculty member with a course: $20/hour
  • Technical assistantships: $20/hour
  • Research or program assistantships: $22.50/hour
  • Faculty of record: $2500 for team taught courses; $3375 for single taught

Contact your GPD directly to learn more.

Graduate Commons Project Assistantships

These assistantships are hosted by the RISD Museum, Co-Works, RISD Careers, Fleet Library, Center for Arts & Language, Nature Lab, RISD Global, RISD Research and other offices are also available each year. In addition, faculty may identify a research assistant for their own research projects.

Graduate students will receive news of available opportunities via email from

Office of Graduate Studies | Conference + Exhibition Fund

Established to support professional development, the annual Graduate Student Conference + Exhibition Fund assists with costs associated with travel, accommodations and conference/participation fees for students who have been invited to present creative or scholarly work at an exhibition, conference, symposium or other refereed public event.

Award amounts vary and do not typically exceed $1,000. After awardees submit expenses they will receive funds in the form of reimbursement. Students will receive an email with details of the reimbursement process after award funding has been confirmed. Note that the funds can only support travel to and from the event site, accommodations and conference/participation fees. The award does not cover meals, per diems, fabrication or transportation of materials, or other incidental fees.

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis each academic year. Students are encouraged to apply early, as funds are limited. Click here for an application.

Contact Caroline Vasquez, Assistant Director, Office of Graduate Studies, at with questions.


To receive support through this program you must be a full-time graduate student, in good academic standing, have a confirmed invitation to publicly present your work, and have the support of your graduate program director. Students are only eligible to receive conference fund support once per academic year.

Teaching as practice

Graduate students interested in teaching and pedagogy find many opportunities to begin developing a teaching practice while at RISD. In addition to offerings through the Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD), RISD offers electives, workshops and lectures focused on collegiate teaching.

Interested graduate students also have opportunities to teach in their major, either as a teaching assistant or instructor of record for an introductory course. Wintersession also offers graduate students opportunities to develop and propose original courses of their own design. Interested students should speak to their GPD to learn about Wintersession teaching opportunities. (See below for more information.)

Those with interests in pursuing teaching opportunities in higher education may also choose to enroll in the Collegiate Teaching Certificate Program.

Wintersession graduate student-taught courses

The intensive, five-week Wintersession term between the fall and spring semesters provides students with a unique opportunity to teach a course of their own design. To apply, interested students submit a proposal through their graduate program director (GPD) during the spring term prior to the next Wintersession.

To be eligible to teach a self-designed Wintersession course, graduate students must:

  • be in the second or third year of their program by the time the course would run
  • possess a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • have completed one of the following before submitting a proposal
    • syllabus workshop offered by department
    • syllabus workshop offered by Academic Affairs
    • Collegiate Teaching: Preparation + Reflection course offered by TLAD

Your GPD will advise and guide you through the process of developing and submitting a proposal. Graduate students may teach individually or co-teach with one other graduate student. Co-teaching students do not need to be in the same department but both departments must approve the proposal. Student instructors will receive a graduate assistantship as compensation.

Timeline for teaching in AY 20/21

Fall 2019: Speak with your GPD about your interest in developing a course

Fall 2019/Wintersession 2020: Attend a syllabus workshop provided by your department or Academic Affairs. Information on syllabus workshops offered by Academic Affairs will be emailed to all graduate students and posted online. As an alternative or in addition to a syllabus workshop you can enroll in a collegiate teaching course during Wintersession 2019.

Wintersession/early Spring 2020: Continue working with your GPD on your course proposal and syllabus.

Mid March–early April 2020: Submit all required materials to your GPD, which must include:

  • RISD COURSE COST WORKSHEET (if applicable)
  • SYLLABUS for proposed course. The syllabus must include all the required syllabus components outlined in RISD’s syllabus guidelines including course goals, student learning outcomes, a full schedule that outlines tentative activities and assignments for each class meeting.
  • Brief CURRICULUM VITAE including a list of previous teaching preparation/experience

Your GPD will give the final proposal and materials to the department head and division dean to endorse and then submit to the Wintersession Committee for final approval no later than April 10, 2020.

This is a selective process and not every course proposal will be approved. To increase your chances of selection, courses must be open to students from all years and majors and align with Wintersession’s intensive five-week structure and spirit of experimentation and innovation. For WS2020, the Wintersession Committee is especially interested in interdisciplinary courses offered at an introductory level.

Department contacts for current students