Transfer Applicants


Applications for transfer admission are accepted beginning in early August.

Fall term deadline: March 15, 2014

Decisions are mailed the third week of April.

Most transfer students are required to begin their RISD education with the Summer Foundation Studies Program, a six-week session that runs from mid-June through the end of July. Modeled on the full-year Foundation Studies curriculum that all freshmen follow, the summer program is an integral part of the RISD learning experience, offering courses in drawing, design and spatial dynamics. If you have completed the equivalent of RISD’s Foundation Studies program, this requirement may be waived (the Admissions Committee automatically reviews all applicants and issues waivers where warranted).

Spring term deadline: November 1, 2013

Decisions are mailed the second week of December. Note: If you have been considered and denied admission for spring term entrance, you cannot be reconsidered for entrance the following fall.



Fall term  If you will have satisfactorily completed at least one full year of study at a college accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the US (or recognized in a similar fashion by an appropriate authority if the college is in another country) by June 2014, you may apply as an upperclass transfer student. A full year of college-level study consists of a minimum of 27 earned credits, including a minimum of 12 credits in the liberal arts.

 Spring term  If you have completed two years (approximately 60 credits) of college and your visual arts training and accomplishments qualify you to enter a specific RISD program as a second-semester sophomore, you may be considered for admission in the spring semester. Opportunities for spring admission vary by department and mid-year entrance is generally not possible in the architectural studies majors.

Transfer students enter RISD degree programs as sophomores – at the second-year level, which is when departmental major requirements call for sequential courses focused on a specific studio discipline. Applicants with prior experience that closely matches RISD’s curriculum may be eligible for placement at a more advanced level, either at the time of admission or after the first semester. Your application decision will indicate the level at which you are admitted. 



Application Form  Since RISD participates in The Common Application, please use that online process to complete the form and submit most credentials. The application fee is $60.

If you’re not able to use the Common App, please contact the Admissions Office at or 800 364 7473.

Academic Transcripts  Applicants must provide official transcripts covering at least the last three full years of academic work completed. This should include all college transcripts and if applicable, your secondary school transcript. If you are attending a school in non-English-speaking country, your academic credentials must be translated into English by an approved translator.

Tests  SAT or ACT | If you are a transfer applicant to Architecture, Interior Architecture or Industrial Design, you must submit results from either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT (American College Testing program), including the writing component. Submitting these scores is optional if you’re applying to any other department or if you’ve already completed at least three years of higher education. RISD’s CEEB code for the SATs is 003726; for ACT the code number is 003812.

TOEFL or IELTS | All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Since proficiency in English is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants must attain an acceptable score on either test;  RISD requires a minimum result of 93 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on IELTS. Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take six weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD.

Letter(s) of Recommendation  Although not required, these letters can be very helpful to your application. One letter is suggested, although as many as three may be submitted. Recommendation letters should be written by teachers, or other professionals, who have first-hand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student. 

Please use The Common Application invite people who are writing letters in support of your application to upload them through that service. If you aren’t using the Common App, please have your letters sent to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to

Portfolio  Your portfolio should show a selection of 12–20 examples of your best recent artwork. We suggest that the work reflect your ideas, interests, experience and abilities in the arts to date. Work presented can be in any media (including film or video), in finished or sketch form and the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration. We strongly recommend you to include 2–3 pages from your journal or sketchbook to indicate your process of research, thinking and investigation.

Portfolios must be submitted through SlideRoom, an online portfolio service. Use the arts supplement question in your RISD Common App to connect to the Slideroom submission process (which requires an additional $10 fee).

Drawings  Two drawing samples are required of all candidates. Each drawing must be done on a sheet of white paper measuring 16"x 20" (40 cm x 50 cm).

Drawing #1 | reference a bicycle 

Your bicycle drawing must be done using graphite pencil.

Drawing #2 | select one of the following options:

  • In the course of a single calendar day, draw 11 related images in a single visualization
  • Make a drawing that uses both sides of the sheet of paper
  • Create a drawing instrument. Make a drawing with the instrument you have created. Send the original drawing to us and upload an image of the instrument with your portfolio in SlideRoom.

For Drawing #2, you may use graphite pencil or any dry (fixable) medium, a water-based medium (such as ink, watercolor or gouache) or a combination. Do not use any oil-based medium or collage. Remember that whatever medium(s) you choose, you must be able to fold the paper (see below) in order to mail it to our office.

You may approach these two drawings in any way you wish. Other than the stated requirements related to paper size (16"x 20"), subject (in the case of Drawing #1) and medium (graphite pencil), everything and anything else are up to you. Using photographs as a source for your drawings, however, is not recommended.

An important thought: we consider drawing to be as much about process as presentation. We encourage you to consider your drawing submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and risk-taking more than final presentations or examples of technical proficiency. We do not value any particular style of drawing more than another, so feel free to explore the full range of possible expression in your drawings.

Fold your drawings in half and then in half again to a finished size of 8"x 10" (20cm x 25cm) and be sure to note your full name, date of birth and address on the back of each drawing. Drawings must be mailed to the Admissions Office in their original form, not submitted as reproductions.

Writing Samples  Submit two examples of writing, each up to 400 words. (Note: the Common App general essay does not fulfill this requirement.)

Writing Sample # 1 | Tell us about what you create and why you make it.

Writing Sample #2 | select one of the following options:

  • Every day we’re confronted by circumstances that range from the worrisome to the inspiring. What do you find most compelling in the world right now? How might this impact our future? What influence can you have on this situation?
  • Is there something you love, have to do, can’t stop thinking about? Write about a personal passion or obsession other than visual art or design.

While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we look for applicants who are not afraid to take risks in their expression. Please don’t hesitate to use a writing style or method that may be outside the mainstream as you express a dynamic position in the samples you submit.

Writing samples may be uploaded through The Common Application or mailed to the Admissions Office. Please include your full name, date of birth and address on each writing sample. 



» Submit your application form through The Common Application.

» Have your school mail official transcripts to the Admissions Office if it is not among the participating schools that upload transcripts through The Common Application.

» Upload your portfolio through SlideRoom using the link on The Common Application.

» Mail your two original drawings to the Admissions Office.

» Upload writing samples and letters of recommendation through The Common Application.

 If you’re not submitting digitally, please mail official transcripts, recommendations, writing samples and paper test reports to:   

Admissions Office
Rhode Island School of Design
Two College Street
Providence, RI 02903

You should submit all of your application materials, including your portfolio (if not using Slideroom) and drawings directly to the Admissions Office at: 

Admissions Office
Rhode Island School of Design
Two College Street
Providence, RI 02903



Academic courses  Course credits in liberal arts, mathematics, science and foreign languages earned at other colleges or universities accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the US (or recognized in a similar fashion by an appropriate authority if the college is in another country) are usually transferable to RISD and will be applied toward the 42 liberal arts credits required for graduation. A grade of C or better is required in order to transfer credits from other institutions. The Division of Liberal Arts determines whether each course is eligible for transfer credit. Once you have enrolled as a RISD degree student, you may only transfer 12 credits from other institutions. 

Studio courses  Credits earned in previous studio courses will be reviewed by faculty during the application process. Studio credits are generally not transferable at the point of entrance, but in rare instances, they may allow placement at a more advanced level. Your application decision will indicate your entry level.

Typically, credit for appropriate studio courses will be reviewed after your first term in the department. Advanced standing may be granted after your initial work at RISD and your previous studio experience have been evaluated. RISD requires a minimum of two years of residency before granting a degree.


Apply now

Transfer applicants are encouraged to apply online using The Common Application, which allows you to save an application in process and return to it later. It’s also the most convenient way to submit your portfolio and letters of recommendation, though you’ll also need to mail RISD two drawings on paper as part of the application process.

Visiting RISD is highly recommended to get a true feel for the atmosphere and the nature of our studio process. RISD representatives are also available to speak with you at selected Portfolio Days throughout the country.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions! 
401 454-6300
800 364-7473


Dating from 1773, Market Square was once the hub of downtown Providence and is now a popular campus plaza for
displaying sculpture and other unexpected objects.