• Are you looking for a particular RISD style in MFA candidates?
    No. We're not so much concerned with a particular style or technique as with creative and imaginative approaches to visual and critical problem solving. We're looking for students who show a solid working knowledge (both technical and critical) of their medium(s), a coherent body of visual work and future promise.
  • How can I put together an effective portfolio?
    We ask that you submit 20 images of your work as digital files via Slideroom. Please see Slideroom instructions for Graduate Applicants on the Admissions website. We can't emphasize enough how important well-exposed and edited images are to a successful application. Avoid a random sample of media and styles of expression, and instead focus on conveying the coherence of your work and demonstrating your vision.
  • How do you evaluate applications?
    Documentation of your visual work is, without doubt, the single most important aspect. After basing the initial round of reviews on visual materials only, we read personal statements, transcripts and letters of reference for candidates who remain in the applicant pool. We then contact accepted candidates immediately and create a waiting list in ranked order.

  • I didn’t go to art school. Will this hurt my chances for admission to RISD’s graduate program?
    Not at all. Our graduate students come from all kinds of educational backgrounds, including four-year colleges, universities, art schools and other pre-professional schools. It is not unusual for graduate students to have trained for other kinds of careers before deciding to return to graduate school to pursue their desire to be artists. However, the work of students who are accepted into the program is on par with those who have studied photography in undergraduate school.
  • In addition to still images, should I submit videotapes, CDs or DVDs?
    Please submit additional time-based media if it is part of your primary form of expression, but don't be concerned if you submit still images only. In fact, sending too much material that is not well selected and competently executed could do more harm than good.
  • Must I remain in residence at RISD for two consecutive years while fulfilling the MFA program requirements?
    Yes, we require that students be in residence at RISD for two consecutive years. The program is very intensive and peer-oriented, which means that exchanges and relationships among graduate students and faculty during those two years form a crucial component of the graduate experience.
  • What kind of competition will I face?
    We generally receive about 200 applications a year for seven openings, the maximum permitted by our facilities and staffing.
  • Who evaluates applications to the graduate program?
    Full-time Photography faculty review applicants' materials together, as a group. Current graduate students also participate in the first round of viewing.
Photo foreground image 1
Chad Houle, Homodomestic, archival inkjet print