The thesis

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 or search the Fleet Library at RISD’s graduate thesis index. You may also view highlights from recent thesis projects in the Book of Thesis Books.


May 24

Required Electronic Submission of Thesis Book

Go to Digital Commons@risd and upload your thesis PDF by Friday, May 24, 2024 (or before). The electronic thesis (which does not have to include signatures) will be cataloged by the Library and will also be posted to RISD’s Digital Commons.

A complete set of submission instructions can be found here.

Library requirements for cataloging:

  • Official title page that includes your full name, the names of all thesis committee advisors, department, year, etc. Use this sample page for guidance. Thesis committee signatures would be added in the bound copy, typically during final critique.
  • Title
  • Copyright page
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents
  • Captions or list of illustrations (including image credits as needed)
  • Footnotes/endnotes and bibliography (source citation)
  • Page numbers

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

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.

If you need to opt-out or have any questions, email

Optional Submission of Bound Thesis Book

If you would like to submit a bound, physical copy of your thesis to the RISD Library, check with your department or contact Marc Calhoun ( to make arrangements.

The physical copy must be the same content as the digital version. Your thesis is a snapshot of a moment in time, the library cannot accept re-edited or substantially different versions. All materials must be archivally sound (acid-free paper, sturdy binding, etc.). If your thesis is bound unconventionally and/or includes original artwork such as prints or loose pages, please include an appendix describing the materials and/or process to ensure accurate library cataloging, and please note it will be housed in Special Collections (viewable by appointment), rather than on the open, accessible shelves.

Watch a thesis presentation

Thesis Presentation: Jiaai He, Interior Architecture

Recent Interior Architecture graduate Jiaai He shares her thesis and experience in the MFA program.

Thesis Presentation: Steven Kaplan-Pistiner, Jewelry + Metalsmithing

Recent Jewelry + Metalsmithing graduate Steven Kaplan-Pistiner shares his thesis and experience in the MFA program.

Thesis Presentation: Ayumi Kodoma, Furniture Design

Hear about the thesis making and writing experience from recent Furniture Design program graduate Ayumi Kodoma.

Thesis Presentation: Rohit Sen, Industrial Design

Recent Industrial Design graduate Rohit Sen shares his thesis and experience in the MFA program.

Thesis Presentation: Joon June Yoon, Digital + Media

Recent Digital + Media graduate June Joon Yoon shares her thesis and experience in the MFA program.


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.

RISD Grad Show 2024 on view online

Featuring work by this year’s graduating class, RISD Grad Show 2024 highlights the creativity that students exhibit at all stages of the thesis process, from sketches and drafts to completed works.