FAQs + Facts

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can students attend RISD part-time?
    No. All RISD degree programs require a commitment to full-time study. However, each year more than 4,000 people—from young children to elderly adults—enroll in Continuing Education courses at RISD. These classes generally meet in the evenings and on weekends, allowing students to learn from accomplished professionals in their fields and make use of RISD’s specialized facilities when degree program studios are not in session.
  • Do any RISD graduates choose to pursue careers outside the fields of art and design?
    Yes. There are many alumni who choose to apply the critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills they learned at RISD to a wide range of other pursuits. RISD graduates have gone on to start their own businesses, to run schools and theaters, and to teach and work as policy analysts or research roboticists. Others have become chefs, doctors, lawyers, therapists, accountants, politicians and pilots, as well as engaging in many other professions.

  • Do most students complete their degrees at RISD?
    Although it varies a bit from year to year, on average, 95% of first-year students continue on at RISD and 90% complete their studies and receive a degree within six years. Also, it is more common to transfer to RISD from another college than it is to transfer out.
  • Does RISD offer a pre-college program for high school students?

    Yes, the Summer Pre-College Program offers 16- to 18-year-old high school students a comprehensive introduction to the experience of studying in an art school environment, which is very different from majoring in art at other colleges. For six weeks, students follow a college-level studio curriculum, live in RISD residence halls and experience campus life at an art school. The program is focused, serious and challenging; students engage in the core elements of a RISD education, from foundation drawing and design courses, to critical studies in art, to focused concentration in a choice of diverse majors. 

  • Does RISD offer any certificate programs?

    Yes, our non-credit certificate programs for adults – offered through RISD|CE – provide a focused approach for students wishing to advance or change careers. Most certificate programs can be completed in an average of two to three years. Certificate programs are also offered to teens interested in developing their portfolios. 

  • Does RISD offer classes and workshops for children?
    Yes, students from ages 6 through 17 are invited to immerse themselves in the art-making process through RISD|CE’s Young Artist Program. The program’s open-ended projects and lessons encourage confidence and creativity in a fun and structured environment. Offerings include classes throughout the year, over the summer and during school vacation weeks. 
  • Does RISD offer study abroad options?
    Please visit gpp.risd.edu for a complete list of our study abroad options.
  • If RISD is an art school, why is it called Rhode Island School of Design?
    RISD was founded during the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, when the textiles and jewelry manufacturing industries were beginning to take off in Providence. Since it was established in part to “apply the principles of Art to the requirements of trade and manufacture,” the prescient founders chose to incorporate the word “design” into the name of the school as a means of signaling its importance to economic development. But they also clearly stipulated that their educational experiment aimed both to teach students “the practice of Art, in order that they may understand its principles, give instruction to others, or become artists” and to educate the general public about the intrinsic value of the arts to society.
  • Is RISD a state college?
    No. Although half of our name derives from the name of the smallest state in the U.S.A., RISD is a private college with no official affiliation with the state’s public colleges and universities (Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island).

  • Is RISD a trade school?
    No, it’s not. While students graduate with a clear expertise in a specific field, RISD’s approach to education goes far beyond the purely practical training associated with trade schools. RISD offers an exceptional education in the fine art and design disciplines, complemented by a wide range of liberal arts courses. After completing the first-year Foundation Studies program, undergraduates choose a major field of study and graduate with a well-rounded education that emphasizes critical thinking and creative problem-solving. Completion of a studio major demands intense hands-on making and a high level of craftsmanship, but to ground studio work in a larger cultural context, students also complete a third of the credits required for graduation in such liberal arts areas as art history, visual culture, English, philosophy and the social sciences.
  • What does it cost to attend RISD as a full-time student?

    The cost of education is made up of direct costs (tuition, fees and room and board, depending on individual choices) and indirect costs (personal and travel expenses, books and supplies). 

    See 2015/16 tuition and fees

    See the estimated total costs of attending RISD

    For information about aid, visit our Student Financial Services section. 

  • What is RISD’s connection to Brown University?
    RISD and Brown have adjacent campuses on College Hill and students at either institution may cross-register for classes at the other at no extra cost. RISD students typically turn to Brown for a broad array of foreign language and advanced science and math classes, which may be used to satisfy a portion of RISD’s distribution requirements in liberal arts. Students also have access to Brown’s extensive athletic facilities and can supplement activities available at RISD by attending concerts, lectures, theatrical performances and the like. In addition, the Brown|RISD Dual Degree program enables highly motivated undergrads to earn a BFA from RISD and an AB from Brown in five years.
  • What percentage of your graduates find jobs in creative fields?
    Based on an annual survey conducted by RISD’s Career Center, 96% of alumni are employed one year after graduation. An additional two percent are enrolled in a full-time educational program to pursue an advanced degree. Of the employed alumni, approximately 70% are employed in positions directly related to their major and 25 percent are employed in positions indirectly related to their major. Statistics in this annual survey tend to be similar from year to year.
  • What types of degrees does RISD offer?
    RISD offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 19 majors. The most common undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA), which generally requires four years of full-time study, while most graduate students earn Master of Fine Art degrees in two years (though some programs vary in length from 1+ to 3 years). RISD also offers a five-year professional baccalaureate degree, the Bachelor of Architecture, which is a qualifying degree for a license in the field of architecture.

Facts + Figures

Type of college
private, not-for-profit, co-educational, four-year art and design school
# of undergraduate degree programs: 16
# of graduate degree programs: 18
# of undergraduate concentrations: 5

Costs (2016–17)
tuition: $46,800 (full-time degree candidates, graduate and undergraduate)
student activities fee: $310
room + board: $12,850 (Essential RISD Experience)
supplies: $2,700 (estimated)
(see 2015–16 costs)

Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Founded: 1877

Demographics (Fall 2016):
undergraduate students: 2,000
graduate students: 478
total enrollment: 2,478
gender (m/f): 31%/69%
students of color: 31%*
international: 33% (from 57 countries)
*based on IPEDS reporting

Faculty (Fall 2016)
full-time: 156
part-time: 269
student/faculty ratio: 10:1

Average class size (Fall 2016)
undergraduate: 16
graduate: 11

Applicants accepted (Fall 2016)
34.4% first-year (freshman)
35.8% transfer
28.0% graduate

Average SAT scores (Fall 2016)
640 math | 623 critical reading | 615 writing

Student retention rate
(5-year average)
93% (first-year (freshman) to sophomore)

Student graduation rate
(5-year average)
87% graduate (within six years of enrollment)

degree (Bachelor's since 1937, Master's since 1958): 26,936 (based on first degree)
contactable: 25,050

Most popular undergraduate majors
Illustration, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Film/Animation/Video, Painting

Endowment (2015–16): $303.4 million

Annual operating budget (2016–17): $138.9 million

New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC)
National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD)
Landscape Architecture Accrediting Board (LAAB) of the American Society of Landscape Architects
National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE)

For more information
2016 RISD Fact Book
2015 RISD Fact Book
2014 RISD Fact Book
2013 RISD Fact Book
2012 RISD Fact Book
2011 RISD Fact Book
official policies + disclosures

RISD has a long history of offering Saturday and after-school classes for children and teens, as this photo from c. 1910 confirms.