Graduate: MA/MDes


  • Are RISD's graduate programs nationally recognized?
    Yes. In 2009 US News & World Report ranked ours the top such graduate program in the country. We also received top rankings in consecutive years from Design Intelligence. When making judgments about the quality of any educational program it's obviously important to consider many factors, including peer reviews and student satisfaction levels.
  • Are RISD's MA or MDes program accredited?
    RISD is accredited by NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) and NEASC (North Eastern Association of Schools and Colleges). Since our department does not offer Architecture or Interior Design programs, as defined by NAAB and CIDA, respectively, neither the undergraduate (BFA) nor the graduate (MA or MDes) programs are accredited by them, but rather they are profession accredited by NASAD. However, if you plan to pursue a career as a professional interior designer after graduating from RISD, you may apply to take the official interior design exam (NCIDQ) after completing the required number of years in a professional office. This puts you in exactly the same position as those who graduate from a CIDA-accredited program. And please keep in mind that professional accreditation standards change, which means the status of our programs may also change in the future.
  • Is interior architecture just another name for interior design?
    No. Interior architecture focuses on the re-use of existing structures and their subsequent transformation into new space and/or form rather than the design and decoration of spaces. Our curriculum is studio-based, with supporting study of history/theory, structures, mechanical systems, drawing, lighting and codes. Our program provides the knowledge to remove, renovate and add to existing structures. Every built structure eventually faces three possibilities: demolition, preservation or adaptive reuse. RISD's Interior Architecture Department has focused on the latter since 1947, when Ernst Lichtblau assumed leadership. An architect, designer and student of Otto Wagner, he changed the name and professional orientation of the department from Interior Design to Interior Architecture, which shifted the focus from the application of surface materials to understanding the design of "a building from the interior to the exterior."
  • What do graduates of the program end up doing?
    The majority of our alumni go on to work in firms around the country and often land jobs prior to graduation. These firms include OMA, SOM, Gensler, NBBJ, Perkins + Wills, Yabu Pushelberg, Architectonica, Polshek Partnership, RTKL, Sasaki Associates and the Rockwell Group, among others.
Interior Architecture Foreground Image 2
Ryan Cho, MIA 10