Parents' Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do RISD students receive a well-rounded liberal arts education?
    RISD's exceptional education in fine art and design is complemented by a wide range of liberal arts courses that emphasize critical thinking and creative problem-solving. Students are required to complete 42 credits in the liberal arts constituting almost a third of the coursework toward the BFA. A concentration in English; History, Philosophy + Social Sciences (HPSS); or History of Art + Visual Culture (HAVC) can lend new perspectives to any studio major. Students may also cross-register for classes at neighboring Brown University for foreign language and advanced science and math classes at no additional cost.

    For more information, visit the Division of Liberal Arts »
  • Does RISD have a newsletter for parents?
    Yes, RISD parents receive XYZmail, a monthly email newsletter with the latest updates from RISD, both on-campus and around the world.

    Other sources of news and information include RISD's website, blog and Twitter feed. For the student perspective, check out the student-produced publication The All-Nighter.
  • Does RISD offer programs for kids and teens? Is there a summer program for high school students?

    Yes, RISD offers a variety of engaging educational programs for children, teens and families, ranging from Continuing Education (RISD|CE) classes and certificate programs for youths to Free-for-All Saturdays at the RISD Museum that include hands-on activities, performances, videos and special gallery guests. 

    For  high school students considering a college-level art degree, RISD offers a six-week residential Pre-College Summer Program that provides a comprehensive introduction to the college art school experience. Students follow a college-like studio curriculum and live in RISD residence halls in a full-immersion encounter with art and design education at the highest level. 

    For more information, visit the Precollege website »

  • How can I get more involved/volunteer at RISD?
    We invite RISD parents to share their talents and expertise with the RISD community. For information about the Parents' Council, email Duke Graham.
  • How can I support RISD's Annual Fund?
    As parents of RISD students, you are invited to participate in your sons’ and daughters’ art and design education in a variety of ways. One way to get involved is by giving to the RISD Annual Fund, which helps ensure that RISD students, regardless of their financial means, are taught in state-of-the-art facilities by talented faculty. Tuition and fees cover only 64 percent of the actual cost of each student’s education. The rest is made up from income earned on RISD’s endowment, auxiliary enterprises and, most importantly, from generous contributions from parents, alumni and friends of the college. For more information, visit the Annual Fund website »
  • How do I request a printed catalogue?
    Visit the RISD Admissions website to request that a printed catalogue be mailed to you.
  • How does RISD compare with other schools of art and design?
    For the third year running, US News & World Report announced that RISD has topped its rankings of the best Fine Arts Schools, which looks at graduate programs in art and design throughout the country. In earning the top spot among peer graduate programs, RISD edged out both Yale and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

    For more information, see RISD Ranks #1 for Fine Arts Grad Programs

    RISD has also been cited as a top producer of Fulbright scholars, with seven recent graduates being awarded Fulbrights for 2010-2011 and more than 50 recipients in the past 15 years.
  • Is an internship required? Who should my son/daughter contact to obtain an internship?
    Taking part in an internship is not a requirement for graduation but students are strongly encouraged to participate in internships during their time at RISD. In addition to offering career advice, the Career Center assists students in finding internship opportunities. For more information, visit the Career Center website »
  • Should my son/daughter buy a new computer?

    With nearly 400 computers available across campus, RISD does not require students to own a computer during their Foundation year. However, most students find having their own computer more convenient.

    Once students declare a major, some departments require the purchase of a computer, based on their specifications. So if your son/daughter wants to have their own computer during the Foundation year, it’s best either to bring a computer from home, or purchase an inexpensive one.

    Students majoring in Architecture, Furniture Design, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture and Photography must buy the laptop hardware and software package specified by the major department beginning the fall semester of sophomore year. All students declaring majors in the academic programs above will receive detailed system specifications, ordering instructions and program policy information during the late spring /early summer.

  • What careers do RISD graduates pursue apart from art and design?
    Many RISD alumni choose to apply the critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills they learned at RISD to a wide range of other pursuits. In addition to starting their own businesses, RISD graduates have gone on to run schools and theaters; teach, work as policy analysts and research robotics; and become chefs, doctors, lawyers, therapists, accountants, politicians and pilots, among other professions.
  • What emergency services are available in case of illness or injury?
    A registered nurse is on duty Monday-Friday, 8:30am-8:30pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm; and certain holidays, 12-7:30pm. Health services is closed on Sunday. A physician is on call every day and is in the office for one "sick call" hour each weekday.

    If there's an emergency when Health Services is closed, students are instructed to call the Department of Public Safety, located within the freshman Residence Hall complex. A trained officer will then respond with treatment or arrange for transportation to an appropriate medical facility. Questions may be directed to Health Services (401 454-6625) or Public Safety (401 454-6376 or EMERGENCY: 401-454-6666). For more information, visit the Health Services website »
  • What is Providence like?

    Providence is a historic, arts-oriented city with several colleges, interesting architecture, diverse neighborhoods and a wide range of housing options. It's small enough to be easy to navigate, but big enough to have a lot going on. Students can also attend events at neighboring Brown University or cross-register for classes. Plus it's an hour south of Boston and three hours north of New York City, with frequent bus and train service, so it's relatively easy to get to one of these larger cities for shows, concerts and other activities.

    For more information, visit:

  • What is RISD’s connection to Brown University?
    RISD and Brown have adjacent campuses on Providence's College Hill and students at either school 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, all of which satisfy RISD’s liberal arts requirements. 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. Get more info on the RISD-Brown dual-degree program »
  • What is the weather like in Providence?
    Providence's climate is similar to much of the northeastern seaboard with warm summers, cold winters and fairly high humidity year-round. The  influence of the Atlantic Ocean keeps Providence more moderate than many inland locales. January is the coldest month with a mean of 28.7 °F (−1.8 °C) and July is the warmest month with an average of 73.3 °F (22.9 °C), with highs rising to 90 °F (32 °C).

    For current weather conditions and forecasts, visit
  • What kind of salaries do alumni earn after graduation?
    Salary levels vary based on occupation. Some alumni start their own businesses and earn less in their first year than their classmates who have chosen to work for larger corporations or firms, so an average starting salary would not be representative. However, RISD graduates consistently earn a higher average salary than the published average salary of liberal arts graduates in their first year out of college. For more information, contact the Career Center »
  • What kind of security is present on campus?
    The Department of Public Safety's officers patrol the campus on foot, bicycle and distinctively marked cruisers, and provide service around the clock to the RISD community. Emergency phones are located inside each building on campus, and outdoors near parking lots and some entrances, and connect directly to the Public Safety office. Academic buildings and residence halls are card-access only.

    From 7 pm - 12 am, the RISD Rides shuttle service operates on a loop every half hour. From 12am to 3:30am shuttles provide direct service from campus buildings to student residences within a designated service area in Downcity and the East Side. For more information, visit the Public Safety website »
  • What percentage of 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 four 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. For more information, contact the Career Center »
  • When is the best time to visit RISD?

    The Admissions Office runs information sessions for prospective students throughout the school year and summer. For specific dates and to make a reservation, visit the Admissions website.

    There, you will also find information on getting to Providence, and options on where to stay and dine during your visit.

    While you are here, we also suggest checking out the RISD Museum and numerous galleries on campus, many showing student work. For more on Providence's lively arts community, visit Providence 360.

  • Where can I buy RISD insignia items?

    RISD Insignia items such as clothing, mugs, etc. are available for sale at the RISD store. The store also carries a wide array of art and office supplies.

    risd|works is a retail store, gallery and design showroom that features curated collections and changing exhibitions of work by RISD alumni and faculty.

    For more about RISD's stores, visit www.risd.edu/Students/Our_Stores

  • Where can I learn about opportunities for financial aid?
    The Financial Aid office helps families in need of financial assistance to meet the costs of a RISD education to find the necessary combination of aid. By helping students to identify appropriate grants, loans, work study programs and scholarships, the office works to make it possible for all admitted students to benefit from attending RISD. For more information, visit the Financial Aid website »
  • Where can students ship packages back home?

    Domestic or international packages can be sent using the following services:

    International packages can also be sent using the following services:

  • Where do students buy art supplies?

    The risd:store carries a wide variety of art supplies; for example, silkscreening, printmaking and etching supplies, decorative paper, drawing paper, mounting boards, bookbinding supplies, and more. They also carry office supplies, film, video and photography supplies, textbooks and convenience items, as well as a large selection of RISD-imprinted clothing and gifts.

    The risd:store 3D stocks a wide variety of sculpture supplies as well as general hardware store items. For example, plywood, hardwood, plexi glass, glass and metal rod can be cut to size for next day pickup.

    For more about RISD's stores visit www.risd.edu/Students/Our_Stores.

  • Which banks are in the area?

    Some of the major banks in the areas include:

    Before setting up an account, be sure to compare features such as online or text banking, monthly fees and location availability.

  • Which companies tend to hire RISD graduates?

    RISD graduates pursue work in a wide variety of sectors, from freelance/entrepreneurial ventures to fine arts studios to commercial work. Each spring, more than 150 different companies come to campus to meet with students and review their portfolios. Companies that have recruited at RISD include: General Motors, Google, Harmonix, JC Penney, Morningstar, Novartis, Swarovski, Target, and many more. For a full list of companies that attended this year's portfolio reviews for each discipline, visit RISD's Career Center »

  • Who do I talk to about tuition/billing questions?
    Student Accounts maintains the tuition billing system for the full-time degree program. This department also receives and records all tuition payments and payments received through various auxiliary campus services. Contact Student Accounts at 401 454-6442.
  • Will RISD help my son/daughter find a job after graduation?
    Finding a job after graduation requires a combination of preparation and persistence. RISD's Career Center supports graduating students and interested alumni by providing an annual series of more than 30 seminars, lectures and guest speakers from various art and design professions. These emphasize skills such as writing an effective resume, preparing a professional portfolio and handling an interview. Some of the other topics covered include contracts and copyrights, grant writing and financial management. Other resources of the Career Center include ArtWorks, an online job listing service, and several computers with a library of bookmarked websites for artists and designers. RISD students may also meet with a career counselor for an individual appointment. For more information, contact the Career Center »

More FAQs and Facts

For more questions and answers, see these related FAQs.

Facts + Figures About RISD

General information about Rhode Island School of Design

Admissions FAQs
Info for prospective students

Financial Aid FAQs
Grants, loans, work study + more

Residence Life FAQs
Living in RISD residence halls

Policies + Disclosures
Forms and policies to assist students throughout their RISD experience

Academic Calendar

Key dates through 2015

Biking is big at RISD – despite the killer hill.