Transfer Applicants


Applications for transfer admission are accepted beginning on September 1.

Deadline for fall (summer) term entrance: March 15  

Decisions are mailed the third week of April.

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

Deadline for spring term entrance: November 1

Decisions are mailed the second week of December. Note: If you have been considered and denied admission for the spring semester, 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 2016, 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  You may apply using either the Common Application or the RISD Online Application. The application fee is $60. You will need to choose one option to complete your RISD application process. Do not mix-and-match or use both applications.

If for some reason you’re not able to use either of these applications, 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.

Transcripts can be submitted by school officials through the Common App (if you have chosen to use that option), Parchment, eTranscript, email or mail.

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 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.

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 (which requires an additional $10 fee).

Drawings  Provide two drawing samples, each done on a sheet of white paper measuring 16"x 20" (40 cm x 50 cm).

We consider drawing to be as much about process as presentation and encourage you to consider your drawing submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and risk-taking more than as 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. We are looking for work that reveals your distinct point of view. Using existing images from others as the direct source for your drawings, however, is not recommended.

drawing #1 | Create a drawing through a process of directly observing the forms, light, shapes and relationships of something in front of you. You can choose any subject you wish—for example, natural forms, landscapes or urban spaces, a group of objects (natural and/or manmade), someone you know, and on and on....

Remember that the subject matter is merely a vehicle for observing relationships that work together to build a compelling point of view and visual description.

This drawing must be done using either graphite pencil or charcoal.

drawing #2 | Select one of the following options:

  • Create a drawing instrument or tool. Make a drawing with the instrument you have created. Send the original drawing to us and upload an image or a video of the instrument with your portfolio in SlideRoom.
  • Make a drawing of a bicycle

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, the surface must be stable and dry and you must be able to fold the paper (see below) in order to mail it to our office.

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 Sample  Submit one example of your writing, up to 650 words, using the prompt indicted below. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

  • Provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve by joining us at RISD.

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.

Your writing sample may be uploaded through the Common Application or the RISD Online Application.

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 or the RISD Online Application to invite people who are writing letters in support of your application to upload them through that service. Letters may also be sent to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to


» Submit your application form through either the Common Application or the RISD Online Application.

» Have your school(s) send official transcripts to the Admissions Office - electronically through the Common Application, Parchment or eTranscript - or by email or mail.

» Upload your portfolio through SlideRoom.

» Mail your two original drawings to the Admissions Office.

» Upload the writing sample and letters of recommendation through either the Common Application or the RISD Online Application.

We prefer that your credentials be submitted electronically using the online tools but paper versions of official transcripts, recommendations, writing samples and test reports may also be mailed to:

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

You have two options to complete and submit your application. You may use The Common Application or RISD’s own online application. Both options allow you to save your form in progress and return to it later. Both also allow you to submit some of the other credentials required in the process and our application fee is the same using either option. Please note, however, the two drawing assignments that are required must be submitted directly to our office

We’d love to welcome you here on campus and visiting RISD while classes are in session is highly recommended to get a true feel for the atmosphere and nature of our studio learning process.

If you’re not able to make it to campus, RISD representatives are available to speak with you at selected Portfolio Days throughout the country.
And, of course, please contact us with any questions!

401 454-6300


800 364-7473

Students often need to double up to transport large canvases, especially when it’s windy along the riverwalk in front
of the RISD Auditorium.