Study options and opportunities

RISD graduate students have the option enhance their degree program experience by taking interdisciplinary studios and seminars, exploring the college’s liberal arts curriculum or electing classes at neighboring Brown University. They may also find opportunities to teach or to collaborate with fellow grad students on cross-departmental research.

Study options

Interdisciplinary experimentation at Co-Works

To support interdisciplinary research and learning, the Co-Works Research Lab offers a shared space for pursuing projects that require especially advanced tools and technology. Students in all disciplines make use of a wide range of advanced equipment for 3D printing, 3D scanning, CNC routing, laser cutting, vacuum forming, machine embroidery and knitting, and more. This state-of-the-art fabrication lab also hosts seminars, studio courses and special research projects undertaken by faculty and graduate students.

Liberal Arts

RISD stands out among art schools for its emphasis on liberal arts study, led by doctorate-level faculty in archaeology, anthropology, biology, cognitive science, creative writing, literature, history, art history, performance studies, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology and more.

The Liberal Arts division is comprised of four departments: History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences; Literary Arts and Studies; Teaching and Learning in Art and Design; and Theory and History of Art and Design. Additionally, RISD also offers two Master of Arts programs in the interdisciplinary fields of Global Arts and Cultures and Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies.

Certificate in Collegiate Teaching

Through exploration, practice and research, the Certificate in Collegiate Teaching in Art and Design offers graduate students from all disciplines an opportunity for focused study in the area of collegiate-level studio pedagogy. Benefitting from access to the vitality and pedagogical practices of RISD faculty, students participating in the six-credit program learn models of teaching that aid them in creating a personal teaching philosophy and acquiring important skills for their development as future faculty in art and design and related disciplines.

For graduate students interested in pursuing teaching opportunities in higher education, the certificate provides an endorsement of their pedagogical skills—and a meaningful edge as they enter a competitive academic job market. In addition, students who also serve as instructors or co-instructors of Wintersession courses earn certificates that officially acknowledge the classroom experience they acquire here.

We invite anyone interested to learn more about certificate tracks and curricula.

Brown University courses

Given the collaborative spirit between RISD and Brown, graduate students often consider the campus up the hill as an extension of RISD’s own. Students with a RISD ID are granted full privileges at Brown’s extensive research libraries, which include “the Rock” (the huge, main Rockefeller Library), the historic John Hay Library and the Orwig Music Library, among others.

Graduate students may enroll in courses at Brown at no extra cost and often do research alongside Brown students through jointly sponsored projects. Brown also hosts many lectures, symposia and cultural activities that provide opportunities to expand learning.

More information and instructions about electing courses at Brown is available from the Registrar.

Travel courses

RISD students are encouraged to engage in travel courses that enhance research and creative practices through multidisciplinary exploration of various cultures. Five-week travel/study courses are available during Wintersession.