The thesis experience

Consisting of a final body of work and a written component, the thesis is both a culmination of the graduate experience at RISD and a catalyst for future professional and creative practice.

To view examples of discipline-specific projects online, please visit Digital Commons @ RISD. You may also view highlights from recent thesis projects in our first Book of Thesis Books.


May 29

Electronic submission of final thesis

You must also submit your thesis electronically in pdf format via Google Drive no later than 8 am on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. (A link will be sent in early May via The electronic thesis (which does not have to include signatures) will be catalogued by the Library and will also be posted to RISD’s Digital Commons, unless you elect to opt out on the thesis submission form.

Making your master’s thesis available to the RISD community and future grad students, and to artists, designers, scholars and employers worldwide is an important and valuable part of higher education. However, you may not want to have your thesis available online for reasons of publishing agreements, patents or other intellectual property issues. You may review the digital thesis license agreement here.

May 29

Submission of bound final thesis

In order to graduate you must submit one final, bound copy of your thesis (signed by your thesis committee members during crit week) to the RISD Library for cataloguing between 10 am–4 pm on the Wednesday following crit week (May 29, 2019). Some departments require a second final copy of your thesis for their own archives; please check with your graduate program director for departmental requirements of final thesis submission.

Library archiving requirements*

  • Complete the online thesis submission form (to be sent in May via
  • Official title page, including all thesis committee signatures (the library cannot accept without all signatures)
  • The title page must follow the wording outlined in this sample (inserting your own title, name, department, year, etc.).
  • Copyright page
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents
  • Captions or list of illustrations (including image credits as needed)
  • Footnotes/endnotes and bibliography (source citation)
  • Page numbers
  • If your thesis is bound unconventionally and/or includes original artwork such as prints, include an appendix describing the materials and/or process to ensure accurate Library cataloguing.

*Your thesis will be recorded in both the Fleet Library’s online catalogue and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)—an international bibliographic database.


  • Obtain all required thesis committee signatures during final crit week.
  • Proofread the entire thesis.
  • Use your full legal name, not a nickname.
  • Use only one, consistent thesis title.
  • Abstract must be clear and succinct.
  • All materials must be archivally sound (acid-free paper, sturdy binding, etc.).
  • No loose pages.


Each graduate department has its own written thesis guidelines. Please consult your graduate program director and thesis chair, and familiarize yourself with departmental guidelines for written thesis criteria and deadlines for proposals, outlines, drafts and final copy.

Past graduate thesis books—which are archived in the RISD Fleet Library and stored in many departmental offices—provide general examples. The Center for Arts & Language offers thesis workshops, individual tutoring and additional support materials.

Grad Show 2019

On view from May 23 to June 1 at the Rhode Island Convention Center, Grad Show 2019 highlights selected work by students from RISD's 16 master's degree programs. The 28,000-sf exhibition hall is custom-constructed for the annual thesis exhibition, with more than 1,500 linear feet of walls forming a network of smaller galleries. Culminating each student’s unique studio experience, Grad Show celebrates the Class of 2019’s accomplishments and the creativity they bring to the world.