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At RISD a passionate community of critical thinkers and makers will inspire you to push your own practice in unexpected directions. Below you will find important information and links for applying to our exceptional graduate programs.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) due
The FAFSA is used to award all federal financial aid, including grants, loans and work-study opportunities for qualifying domestic applicants.
Submit your RISD application form, and all other credentials, through the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60. Applications for 2022/23 are now available.
Please note: To apply to the Master of Arts in Design Engineering (MADE) program, please access the Brown University application form via design.engineering.brown.edu.
Initially, you must provide unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate and/or graduate study indicating satisfactory completion, or evidence of anticipated completion, of an undergraduate degree program from an accredited college or university. You can upload your unofficial transcripts within the RISD Applicant Portal. If your academic credentials are prepared in a language other than English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator before submitting. Enrolling students will later be required to submit official transcripts.
Graduate applicants to studio programs are required to submit 10–20 examples of visual work, with certain programs suggesting more specific ideas or requirements. Use SlideRoom to submit your portfolio. For applicants to the following programs, please be sure to review the program-specific requirements area below:
- Digital + Media | MFA
- Furniture Design | 2- and 3-year MFA
- Jewelry + Metalsmithing | MFA and post-baccalaureate
- Landscape Architecture | 2- and 3-year MLA
- Teaching + Learning in Art + Design | MA and MAT
Statement of purpose
Graduate applicants must submit a written statement (500–750 words) outlining their interest and goals in pursuing graduate study. For applicants to the programs listed below, please be sure to review the program-specific requirements area:
- Digital + Media | MFA
- Global Arts and Cultures | MA
- Illustration | MFA
- Landscape Architecture | 2- and 3-year MLA
- Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies | MA
- Photography | MFA
- Teaching + Learning in Art + Design | MAT and MA
Applicants to the MA programs in Global Arts and Cultures and Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies are required to submit an example of critical and/or analytical writing. See below for all program-specific instructions.
Global Arts and Cultures | MA
Applicants are required to submit a writing sample that represents your strongest critical and/or analytical writing on a topic clearly related to Global Arts and Cultures. Please indicate if your writing sample is excerpted from a longer work. If it is, please make sure it forms a coherent argument and is framed such that the Admissions Committee understands its function as part of a longer work.
Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies | MA
Applicants are required to submit a writing sample that represents your strongest critical and/or analytical writing on a topic clearly related to Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies. Please indicate if your writing sample is excerpted from a longer work. If it is, please make sure it forms a coherent argument and is framed such that the Admissions Committee understands its function as part of a longer work.
Letters of recommendation
Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. Recommendation letters should be written by teachers or other professionals who have firsthand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential for graduate study. You may invite your recommenders to upload their letters through the applicant portal. If your recommenders are unable to submit using this method, their letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the Admissions office.
English language proficiency tests
All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from any one of these three options: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or Duolingo (an online English test). Since proficiency in English is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants must attain an acceptable score on their chosen test; RISD requires a minimum result of 93 on the TOEFL or a 6.5 on the IELTS.
Duolingo is changing its scoring system beginning with tests completed on July 15, 2019 and beyond. If you took this test prior to the change, we require a minimum result of 63. Applicants who completed the Duolingo test on or after July 15, 2019 must achieve a minimum score of 115, which is the equivalent of 63 in their prior scoring system.
Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take three weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD by the test agency. Duolingo test results may take up to four days to be received by RISD.
The language test requirement may be waived for applicants who have studied in an institution where English is the language of instruction. You must contact the Admissions Office to explain your school history and determine if you are eligible.
Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
Results from the Graduate Record Examination are not required as part of the application process.
Digital + Media (MFA)
Portfolio: Your portfolio should contain 10 samples total, which can be a combination of media (e.g., images, video, sound). You may submit up to five videos as project documentation or excerpts of time-based media. In your portfolio you are encouraged to submit at least one video that clearly demonstrates your research and/or work process. Total runtime for all videos should be no more than five minutes.
Please do not submit multi-page PDF files. Each sample should be accompanied by text identifying the medium and year, and a four-sentence description explaining the concepts that inform your work (50 words maximum). If collaborative projects are presented, you must clearly identify your individual contribution.
Statement of purpose: Within the statement of purpose, the committee seeks a clear explanation of the applicant’s goals for both their time in school and afterwards, and how the MFA in Digital + Media is specifically suited to support these goals. This statement should address the following questions: What are you interested in exploring conceptually? What outcomes do you hope to get from the degree? Where do you see yourself after graduation? In addition to the statement of purpose, applicants should outline their working methodology or practice from initial research to project realization.
Furniture Design (2- and 3-year MFA)
Portfolio: In the MFA programs, students often make their own work as a means to understand complex ideas. The idea is that critical making combined with critical thinking leads to innovative objects. This experimental approach applies to tests and models as well as to full-size objects at human scale. Material experimentation includes traditional, new and hybrid materials as appropriate to individual student interest. Choose your strongest work for your portfolio presentation—and it doesn't necessarily have to be furniture. If possible, you should aim to show finished photographed work and minimize the number of process images you include.
Video: In addition to your portfolio materials uploaded to SlideRoom, we ask you to include a self-made video (no more than 20 seconds duration) of you making something. The committee is not looking for video with professional production values, but rather is interested in seeing you making something: small, large, modest or complex, any making action can work—the choice is yours. This option shows the committee more about your interests. Please title your video.
Global Arts and Cultures (MA)
Statement of Purpose: Address in detail your intellectual interests and proposed topic(s) of graduate study. Be as specific as possible in describing your prior college-level experience in areas encompassed by Global Arts and Cultures, indicating how this work has contributed to your professional and personal goals in pursuing a master's degree. Your statement should also reflect your understanding of the contours and demands of graduate study in Global Arts and Cultures at RISD.
Statement of purpose: In 750-1500 words, please describe how you hope to engage your values as a critical thinker and maker within the context of your illustration studio practice and as a citizen of the world. Your statement should also reflect your understanding of the Illustration MFA course of study and what you hope to gain by completing the program.
Jewelry + Metalsmithing (MFA and post-baccalaureate)
Portfolio: The rigorous studio-based orientation of the graduate program leverages traditional skills and fabrication techniques to critically approach new territories and ways of making.
In addition to your portfolio materials uploaded to SlideRoom, you are encouraged to include a self-made video no more than 20 seconds duration of you making something. The committee is not looking for video with professional production values, but rather is interested in seeing you making something: small, large, modest or complex, any making action can work, the choice is yours. This is an option you might enjoy adding to your submission to show the committee more about your interests. Finally, please title your video.
Landscape Architecture (2- and 3-year MLA)
Portfolio: All applicants to the Master's of Landscape Architecture degree programs are required to submit a portfolio and an additional video essay. Your portfolio should contain 10 individually produced and carefully chosen images of work that reflects your interests in landscape and the discipline of landscape architecture.
Applicants to the MLA-1 program who have no prior design training may include photographs, sketches or written work that conveys their ability to observe, identify and explore spatial conditions within the landscape. All other applicants should include a selection of work that demonstrates their interests and development in design.
All work should be labeled to indicate if it is academic, professional or personal. If you present a team project, clearly identify your individual contribution. The portfolio should include a minimal amount of text.
Prepare a short video of yourself telling us:
- the most important reason you are motivated to study landscape architecture.
- at least one goal you hope to achieve in your graduate education.
- why you think RISD is the best place to achieve your goals.
In the video, please show yourself speaking on screen. Avoid reading from a script or overdubbing.
We encourage you to be authentic and heartfelt in your response. This essay will function as the beginning of a conversation that will continue if you enter the program at RISD.
The video does not need to contain the same information provided in your written essay. It should be casual in nature, not overproduced or over-edited. Cell phone videos are highly encouraged. Maximum length: 2 minutes.
Statement of purpose: Your essay should describe how your interest in landscape developed, how the work in your portfolio is indicative of that development and why the landscape architecture program at RISD seems well suited to your goals.
Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies (MA)
Statement of Purpose: Address in detail your intellectual interests and proposed topic(s) of graduate study. Be as specific as possible in describing your prior college-level experience in areas encompassed by Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies, indicating how this work has contributed to your professional and personal goals in pursuing a master's degree. Your statement should also reflect your understanding of the contours and demands of graduate study in Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies at RISD.
Statement of Purpose: Provide a clearly written statement (max. 750 words) explaining why you need to attend graduate school now, why you want to attend RISD specifically, and what you believe that you and your practice needs that RISD and its community can offer.
Artist Statement: Provide a clearly written, accessible artist’s statement (max. 750 words) that elucidates the work you’ve included in your submitted portfolio, its aims, forms, development, trajectory, possibilities, meanings and relevance as you construe these things. Tell us what you’re doing—and tell us how and why.
Teaching + Learning in Art + Design | Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
Portfolio: Your portfolio should consist of 20 images exhibiting the depth and breadth of your studio experience. Ten images should represent work that reflects your investigations within a single medium; seven images should represent your confidence in handling a variety of media; and three images need to be samples of drawings.
Statement of purpose: Submit a statement (500–700 words) describing why you desire to become a K-12 art educator and to enter the TLAD MAT program specifically. Please be sure to address the following questions within your statement:
- Why do you want to become an art educator and enter the TLAD MAT program specifically?
- How do you feel your academic, studio, and work experiences have prepared you for RISD’s graduate program in art teacher education?
- How will your own identity as an artist/designer contribute to your practice as an art educator in the classroom?
- What, in your opinion, is the purpose of art education in K-12 schools?
- What do you believe high-quality K-12 art education looks like?
Teaching + Learning in Art + Design | Master of Arts in Design Education (MA)
Portfolio: Submit a portfolio of 20 images that most clearly represent your creative practice as an artist or designer.
Statement of purpose: Submit a written statement (500-750 words) describing your interest in art and design education and your desire to enter the TLAD MA program specifically. Please be sure to address the following questions within your statement:
- Why do you want to become an art educator and enter the TLAD MA program specifically (especially as opposed to a MFA program)?
- What are your specific interests related to art and design education?
- How might these specific interests contribute to the thesis research you would engage in within this program?
- Our MA program is unique in that students customize a program of study. How you would customize your MA program to maximize the resources of RISD, Brown and Providence, and that would support your potential research interests at the same time?
- How do you imagine the MA will support your future goals and interests after graduation (i.e., where do you see yourself in the future and how will this MA help)?
Students who will have completed an undergraduate bachelor’s degree program at an accredited college or university by June 2023 are eligible to apply to the graduate program for admission beginning in the 2023/24 academic year.
International students completing requirements for a diploma rather than a degree must submit a written statement prepared by an appropriate school official verifying that the status of the diploma is equivalent to a US baccalaureate degree.
Specific requirements for the following programs can be found here:
- Architecture | 2-year MArch
- Interior Architecture | 1-year+ MA in Adaptive Reuse
- Landscape Architecture | 2-year MLA
- Teaching + Learning in Art + Design | MAT