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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.

Application deadlines

Jan 10

Graduate application deadline

Please email Admissions with any questions about your application.

Feb 15

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.

Application requirements

Application form

Submit your RISD application form, and all other credentials, through the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60.

Academic transcripts

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.

Portfolio

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
  • Global Arts and Cultures | MA
  • Landscape Architecture | 2- and 3-year MLA
  • Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies | MA
  • 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
  • Landscape Architecture | 2- and 3-year MLA
  • Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies | MA
  • Photography | MFA
  • Teaching + Learning in Art + Design | MAT and MA

Writing sample

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 indicated 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 indicated 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 admissions@risd.edu or mailed to the Admissions office.

Standardized tests

English language proficiency
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, a 6.5 on IELTS or a 63 on Duolingo.

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, although candidates for MLA, MAT and MA programs are encouraged to submit their scores.

Program-specific requirements

Digital + Media | MFA

Portfolio: Your portfolio should contain 10 samples total, which can be a combination of images and videos. You may submit up to 5 videos, with a total run time of no more than five minutes for all videos combined. 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 and is no more than 50 words. 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 make their own work as part of learning from, and with, materials. This 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 interests.

In addition to your portfolio materials uploaded to SlideRoom, you are invited 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.

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 invited 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 best represents the development of their interest in this field of study. All work should be labeled to indicate if it is academic, professional or personal. If team projects are presented, your individual contribution must be clearly identified. 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

You are encouraged to be authentic and heartfelt in your response. This essay will function as the beginning of a conversation you will continue to have if you enter the program at RISD and it does not have to be the same information provided in your written essay. Cell phone videos are accepted as well. 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.

Photography | MFA

Statement of purpose: In addition to a statement of purpose, applicants should send an artist’s statement describing the work included in their portfolio. In other words, the artist’s statement should be about the work submitted, while the statement of purpose should address why you are seeking a graduate degree.

Teaching + Learning in Art + Design | 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 your work as an artist or designer. What is it about? How do you feel your academic, studio or work experience prepares you for entry to a graduate teacher education program? Discuss how, in your opinion, the quality of an educator’s artistic practice contributes to high-quality arts learning for children and youth. Since the significance of arts education in K–12 schools is not universally recognized, please provide a succinct argument for including the visual arts as a required core subject for all students at this level.

Teaching + Learning in Art + Design | 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 pursuing the MA. Identify two questions or issues related to art and design education that pique your interest and which might have the potential to become topics for your MA thesis research. Describe how you might customize a program of study that maximizes the resources of RISD, Brown and the city in support of your particular interests in art and design education. In what ways do you, at this time, anticipate that earning an MA will advance your professional development and career aspirations?

Eligibility

Students who will have completed an undergraduate bachelor’s degree program at an accredited college or university by June 2018 are eligible to apply to the graduate program for admission beginning in the 2018–19 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 | MA and MAT

Applicant portal

The RISD Applicant Portal will allow you to submit all of the materials required in the application process:

  • Application form
  • Academic transcripts
  • Statement of purpose
  • Program-specific materials (if required)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • CV/resume (optional)

SlideRoom

After submitting your application log in to SlideRoom using your RISD Applicant ID (found in the RISD Applicant Portal) and submit a portfolio of 10-20 examples of visual work and, if applicable, any program-specific materials.