MArch | 3-year program

RISD's Master of Architecture program is one of the few in the US embedded in a college of art and design. Here, architecture is taught in a way that understands the practice of design and making as a thoughtful, reflective process that both engenders and draws from social, political, material, technological and cultural agendas. The program aims to empower students to exercise their creativity by understanding their role as cultural creators and equipping them to succeed in the client-based practice of architecture.

The three-year curriculum builds on fundamental areas underpinning the creative practice of architecture: representation and fabrication; technologies and professional ethics; history and theory; and design and the process of projecting architecture. Throughout the program, ideas are expressed not only discursively but through actual production.

M.Arch 3yr: first year

Fall
The Making of Design Principles
Structural Analysis
Architectural Projection
World Architecture
Wintersession
Non-major elective
Spring
Architectural Analysis
Modern Architecture
Wood Structures
Architectural Design

M.Arch 3yr: second year

Fall
Urban Ecologies
Environmental Design I
Steel Structures
Major elective
Wintersession
Non-major elective
Spring
Advanced Studio
Environmental Design II
Concrete Structures
Open elective

M.Arch 3yr: third year

Fall
Advanced Studio
Integrated Building Systems
Thesis Seminar
Open elective
Wintersession
Thesis Research
Spring
Principles of Professional Practice
Thesis Project
Major elective
Open elective

MArch | 2-year program

At the discretion of the admission committee, applicants with a four-year undergraduate degree in architecture may be admitted to the Masters of Architecture advanced standing track. Successful advanced standing students typically complete degree requirements in two years.

Requirements for advanced standing consideration:

  • A four-year undergraduate degree in architecture at an accredited college or university
  • At least two semesters of six-credit studios in architecture
  • Demonstrated design proficiency (in the view of the admissions committee)
  • Equivalent of two semesters of graduate level studio work
  • 24 credits (or equivalent) of architecture courses, including 18 credits of architectural technology (including structures and environmental control systems), architectural history and construction of architectural drawing
  • Six credits of undergraduate coursework for a total of 42 required credits
  • A minimum grade of C for any course counted towards advanced standing


M.Arch 2yr: first year

Fall
The Making of Design Principles
Environmental Design I
Steel Structures
Graduate Theory Seminar: Making Discourse
Wintersession
Non-major elective
Spring
Advanced Studio
Environmental Design II
Concrete Structures
Elective

M.Arch 2yr: second year

Fall
Advanced Studio
Integrated Building Systems
Thesis seminar
Elective
Wintersession
Thesis research
Spring
Principles of Professional Practice
Thesis
Major elective
Elective

Carl Lostritto | graduate program director

“We’re a community of makers. That is our legacy and our continuing focus. We empower graduate students to make with meaning, discipline and rigor. Whether they are constructing at full scale, writing an algorithm to generate a drawing or developing a critical theory, students are constantly asked to rethink how, what and why architects make.”

Core studios

Graduate students in Architecture take a challenging, three-semester sequence of core studios involving group and individual efforts, a combination of digital and material media, and abstract and concrete forms of thinking. These studios recognize that the fundamentals of architecture are neither universal nor fixed. In that spirit, we emphasize the creation of methods, spaces, experiences and theories. Students challenge preconceptions and defaults in order to reconsider the intertwining intellectual, intuitive and physical factors involved in architecture.

4+2 Brown/RISD Program

Brown University students who complete a four-year undergraduate degree in Architecture Studies have the opportunity to integrate the humanities with an intensive design studio education through RISD's two-year advanced standing track master's program. The BA in Architecture Studies from Brown prepares 4+2 students for the advanced standing degree program at RISD, which is a professional degree that provides students with licensure.

The 4+2 program requires students to complete a combination of 42 credits in the arts, humanities and social sciences at Brown, and architectural studios as well as courses in building technologies and drawing at RISD. Prospective 4+2 students must work with a program advisor from the corresponding institution to plan out coursework during each part of the program. Acceptance into the advanced standing track is at the discretion of the admissions committee.

Inspiring community

More than 40 full- and part-time faculty members work with approximately 100 total graduate students in the department, providing criticism and support through critiques, informal reflection and ongoing discussion—both during and outside of class time. Visiting professors contribute alternate perspectives and insights, complementing the range of academic, research-based and professional practice among the resident faculty. Master of Architecture candidates come to RISD from around the world, bringing different approaches and various degrees of fluency in visual, verbal, construction-based and technical expression.

Learning environment

Our large open studios give every student an individual and customizable workspace. These spaces support material exploration, digital and material drafting and modeling. Designed to foster individual creativity while also inviting communal discourse and shared making, these spaces capitalize on the diversity within our student body and cultivate a learning environment that prepares students for the highly collaborative practice of architecture.

Degree project

The degree project represents the culmination of each student's interests relative to the curriculum. A seminar in the fall of the final year helps focus these interests into a plan of action. Working in small groups of six to eight under the guidance of a single professor supported by a secondary advisor, students pursue individual projects throughout Wintersession and spring semester. Degree projects are expected to embody the architectural values that best characterize their authors as architects and are critiqued based on the success of translating these values into tangible objects.

Application requirements

  1. Application form

    Submit your RISD application form, and all other credentials, through the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60.

  2. Academic transcripts

    Initially, you must provide unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate and/or graduate study indicating satisfactory completion, or evidence of anticipated completion, of an undergraduate degree program from an accredited college or university. You can upload your unofficial transcripts within the RISD Applicant Portal. If your academic credentials are prepared in a language other than English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator before submitting. Enrolling students will later be required to submit official transcripts.

  3. Portfolio

    Graduate applicants are required to submit 10–20 examples of visual work, with certain programs suggesting more specific ideas or portfolio requirements (see below).

    Include your portfolio images within your application.

    Specific program instructions:

    Digital + Media | Your portfolio should contain 10 samples total, which can be a combination of images and videos. You may submit up to 5 videos, with a total run time of no more than five minutes for all videos combined. Please do not submit multi-page PDF files. Each sample should be accompanied by text identifying the medium and year, and a four-sentence description explaining the concepts that inform your work and is no more than 50 words. If collaborative projects are presented, you must clearly identify your individual contribution.

    Furniture Design | In the MFA programs, students make their own work as part of learning from, and with, materials. This applies to tests and models as well as to full-size objects at human scale. Material experimentation includes traditional, new and hybrid materials as appropriate to individual student interests.

    In addition to your portfolio materials uploaded to Slideroom, we invite you to include a self-made video no more than 20 seconds duration of you making something. We are not looking for video with professional production values; we are interested in seeing you making something – small, large, modest or complex, any making action can work, the choice is yours. This is an option you might enjoy adding to your submission for us to learn more about your interests. Finally, please title your video.

    Landscape Architecture | All applicants to the Master's of Landscape Architecture degree programs are required to submit a portfolio and an additional video essay. Your portfolio should contain 10 individually produced and carefully chosen images of work that reflects your interests in landscape and the discipline of landscape architecture. Applicants to the MLA-1 program who have no prior design training may include photographs, sketches or written work that conveys their ability to observe, identify and explore spatial conditions within the landscape. All other applicants should include a selection of work that best represents the development of their interest in this field of study. All work should be labeled to indicate if it is academic, professional or personal. If team projects are presented, your individual contribution must be clearly identified. The portfolio should include a minimal amount of text.

    Prepare a short video of yourself telling us:

    • The most important reason you are motivated to study landscape architecture
    • At least one goal you hope to achieve in your graduate education
    • Why you think RISD is the best place to achieve your goals

    You are encouraged to be authentic and heartfelt in your response. This essay will function as the beginning of a conversation you will continue to have if you enter the program at RISD and it does not have to be the same information provided in your written essay. Cell phone videos are accepted as well. Maximum length: 2 minutes.

    Master of Arts in Teaching | MAT | Your portfolio should consist of 20 images exhibiting the depth and breadth of your studio experience. Ten images should represent work that reflects your investigations within a single medium; seven images should represent your confidence in handling a variety of media; and three images need to be samples of drawings.

    Master of Arts in Art + Design Education | MA | Submit a portfolio of 20 images that most clearly represent your creative practice as an artist or designer.

  4. Statement of purpose

    Graduate applicants must submit a written statement (500–750 words) outlining their interest and goals in pursuing graduate study. Several programs suggest more specific ideas or written requirements as outlined below.

    Specific program instructions:

    Digital + Media | Within the statement of purpose, the committee seeks a clear explanation of the applicant’s goals for both their time in school and afterwards, and how the MFA in Digital + Media is specifically suited to support these goals. This statement should address the following questions: what are you interested in exploring conceptually? What outcomes do you hope to get from the degree? Where do you see yourself after graduation? In addition to the statement of purpose, applicants should outline their working methodology or practice from initial research to project realization.

    Landscape Architecture | Your essay should describe how your interest in landscape developed, how the work in your portfolio is indicative of that development and why the landscape architecture program at RISD seems well suited to your goals.

    Photography | In addition to a statement of purpose, applicants should send an artist’s statement describing the work included in their portfolio. In other words, the artist’s statement should be about the work submitted, while the statement of purpose should address why you are seeking a graduate degree.

    Master of Arts in Teaching | MAT | Submit a statement describing your work as an artist or designer. What is it about? How do you feel your academic, studio or work experience prepares you for entry to a graduate teacher education program? Discuss how, in your opinion, the quality of an educator’s artistic practice contributes to high-quality arts learning for children and youth. Since the significance of arts education in K–12 schools is not universally recognized, please provide a succinct argument for including the visual arts as a required core subject for all students at this level.

    Master of Arts in Art + Design Education | MA | Submit a written statement (500–750 words) describing your interest in pursuing the MA. Describe how you might customize a program of study that maximizes the resources of RISD, Brown and the city in support of your particular interest in art and design education. In what ways do you, at this time, anticipate that earning an MA will advance your professional development and career aspirations?

  5. Letters of recommendation

    Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. Recommendation letters should be written by teachers or other professionals who have firsthand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential for graduate study. You may invite your recommenders to upload their letters through your Applicant Portal. If your recommenders are unable to submit using this method, their letters may be emailed to admissions@risd.edu or mailed to the Graduate Admissions Office.

  6. Tests

    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. The language test requirement may be waived for applicants who are enrolled in an institution where English is the language of instruction.

    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 by the test agency.

    Graduate Record Exam (GRE) | Results from the Graduate Record Examination are not required, but MA, MAT and MLA candidates are encouraged to submit their scores.

Departments

Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History of Art + Visual Culture History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles