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 Grant

The Graduate Commons Grant is a competitive annual grant program that supports creative open-ended explorations and goal-oriented projects. An internal committee chaired by the Director, Office of Graduate Studies will review proposals and determine recipients and final award amounts.

Student Eligibility

  1. Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or above.
  2. Enrolled as full-time graduate student at time of application.
  3. If you have a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN), taxes will not be withheld from the grant award.
  4. UPDATED: If you are a non-resident of the U.S and do not yet hold a U.S. (SSN) you will be taxed on the award amount, up to 30% of the total amount. This tax will be deducted/withheld from your payment. Recipients are encouraged to consult a tax professional with any questions.
    Please contact Kate Sacco, Director, Office of International Student Services, 401-709-8474, if you need a SSN.

Evaluative Criteria

  1. Clarity of the proposal as expressed in the written statement and supporting materials.
  2. Coherent and detailed budget.
  3. Feasibility of proposal. With the current global situation, the ability to travel is very unpredictable, therefore do not include travel expenses as part of your proposal, e.g. airfare, hotel, per diems.
  4. Proposal should describe either a specific outcome to be achieved, or how this component of the project/research will concretely contribute to the achievement of a long-term project/research
  5. Evidence of commitment to your discipline or field of research, and how the project will contribute to your creative, intellectual or artistic development.

Submission Process: Complete Graduate Commons Grant Application: Spring 2021

    Your application, submitted as one PDF must include:
    1. Signature page
    2. Project title
    3. Project abstract (maximum 50 words). Summarize objectives (essential goals and anticipated outcomes) for your use of the grant.
    4. Project narrative (maximum 500 words). Effective narratives include:
      • An introductory framework about how this project/research fits into your practice
      • Detailed description of what the focus of your work will be during the grant period.
      • Description of how you will go about this work in a way that attests to the feasibility of your project.
      • Concrete or anticipated outcomes (body or work, further questions, acquired knowledge, etc.
    5. Images: When relevant you may include up to 5 images.
    6. Project budget request: include materials, equipment, rentals, travel, fabrication, services, other related expenses, and in-kind or other contributions.
    7. Indicate other grants, if any, you are currently seeking for this project (e.g., Maharam Fellowship, etc.)
    8. Curriculum Vitæ (CV) or Résumé: No more than 2 pages (per person). Everyone in a collaborative proposal must submit a cv/résumé.

Email the application and required materials to with the subject heading “Graduate Commons Grant Application 2021.”

Applications are due no later than Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Important Dates
Wednesday, March 31, 2021: Deadline for APPLICATIONS
Saturday, May 15, 2021: Grant recipient ANNOUNCEMENTS
Wednesday, January 12, 2022: Deadline for 2021 recipient’s Post-Grant REPORT*

*Post-Grant Report due January 12, 2022 must include:
A summary of grant activity (maximum 500 words) including travel, research, and work successfully completed. Please confirm original objectives, as well as projected outcomes and completion of work. If there were changes in objectives or proposed outcomes/results, please describe and justify. Images and information about recipients’ grant activities may be included on RISD’s website and other materials.

  • What were some of the significant discoveries and insights you developed as a consequence of this grant?
  • How do you imagine you will build on these in future work?
  • Were there expected and/or unanticipated challenges and how did you respond to these?
  • If there were changes in the proposed budget, please describe and explain.
  • Include images (between 5 and 8 images) that represent the outcome of the grant.
  • The complete report should be in one PDF.

Related links

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.

Teaching a self-designed course during Wintersession

The intensive, five-week wintersession (WS) 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 writing workshop offered by department
    • Collegiate Teaching: Preparation + Reflection course offered by TLAD
    • syllabus writing workshop offered by Academic Affairs (offered in late wintersession & early spring)*

*check your RISD email for information about syllabus workshop dates and times or email

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 21/22

Fall 2020: Speak with your GPD about your interest in developing a course

Wintersession 2021 - February 2021: Attend a syllabus writing 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.

Wintersession/early Spring 2021: Continue working with your GPD on your course proposal and syllabus.

Mid March–early April 2021: Submit all required materials to your GPD, which must include:

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 24, 2021.

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 WS 2022, the Wintersession Committee is especially interested in interdisciplinary courses offered at an introductory level.

Department contacts for current students