BArch | 5-year program

Nationally accredited (NAAB) and internationally recognized, RISD's undergraduate program in Architecture leads to a professional degree: the Bachelor of Architecture. The program prepares students to enter the profession by first addressing the knowledge required for making architecture and second, by underscoring the complexities of the discipline and the responsibilities inherent in practicing architecture.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are able to:

  • use critical thinking to build abstract relationships and understand the impact of ideas
  • use and experiment with the representational techniques of the discipline
  • investigate architectural form using spatial principles and material properties
  • comprehend technical aspects of building practices, systems and materials and apply this knowledge to architectural solutions
  • synthesize a range of complex variables into an integrated design solution
  • understand principles for the practice of architecture, including advocacy, ethical actions and project management
  • develop a creative process and frame theoretical questions through making
  • conduct advanced research, including gathering and assessing information and establishing research methods


Inspiring community

RISD's Architecture program has the distinct advantage of being integrated into a college known for the breadth and depth of its fine arts and design offerings, meaning that students benefit from a strong visual and humanities-based education within a progressive professional curriculum. Architecture majors also appreciate being immersed in a community of creative individuals who are passionate about disciplines as diverse as animation, graphic design, printmaking and sculpture.

Curriculum

Through a program that builds on itself, students learn to think critically; to produce architecture through both reflection and invention; to build using a variety of materials; to understand the technical aspects of architecture; to communicate ideas through drawing, model making, writing and speaking; and to be socially and ethically engaged in society. After exposure to the fundamentals of the field – design, material performance, digital and manual representation, and architectural history – students move on to solidify work by focusing on architectural, urban design and environmental issues, engaging in advanced topics in architectural history and responding to complex architectural design problems.

Foundation Year

Fall
Drawing I
Design I
Spatial Dynamics I
First-year Literature Seminar
History of Art + Visual Culture Seminar
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Drawing II
Design II
Spatial Dynamics II
Topics in History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences

Sophomore

Fall
The Making of Design Principles
Structural Analysis
Architecture Projection
World Architecture from Pre-History to Pre-Modern
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Architectural Analysis
Architectural Design
Modern Architecture
Wood Structures

Junior

Fall
Urban Ecologies
Steel Structures
Liberal arts elective
Environmental Design I
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Concrete Structures
Advanced Studio
Liberal Arts elective
Environmental Design II

Senior

Fall
Advanced Studio
Liberal Arts electives
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Advanced Studio
Liberal Arts electives

Fifth Year

Fall
Integrated Building Systems
Degree Project seminar
Major elective
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Principles of Professional Practice
Degree Project
Liberal Arts elective

Degree project

In the final year of the program, students focus on an intensive investigation and analysis of building systems, professional practice and design as part of a self-determined degree project.

Application requirements

  1. Application form

    You'll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the application form provided on the Common Application website. There is a non-refundable application fee of $60 to use this service; eligible students may apply for a fee waiver.

  2. Academic transcripts

    Applicants must provide official transcripts of all secondary academic work through the most recent grading period. Your counselor may submit your transcript through the Common Application, Parchment, email or mail. If your academic credentials are not written in English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator prior to submission.

  3. Tests

    SAT or ACT

    All applicants are required to submit the results of the SAT or the ACT (American College Testing program). Subject tests are not required.

    RISD’s CEEB code number for the SAT 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.

  4. Portfolio

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

    Do not submit a multi-page PDF with individual and unrelated works on each page since this is likely to exceed the limit of 20 examples we’ve requested. The only exception to this is a portfolio piece like a graphic novel where multiple pages are part of a single, cohesive work.

    Portfolios must be submitted through SlideRoom, an online portfolio service (which requires an additional $10 fee).

  5. The Assignment

    Choose one of the following three prompt options and create two responses using any medium you prefer (no restrictions).

    We consider this assignment to be as much about process as presentation and encourage you to consider your submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and risk-taking more than as final presentations or examples of technical proficiency. No particular outcome is valued more than another, so feel free to explore the full range of possible expression in these works.

    Each of these prompts has more than one meaning or usage and you might want to begin by referring to dictionary sources to expand your initial reaction about a direction.

    • plastic
    • collect
    • threshold

    Please upload your responses in the specific section of SlideRoom dedicated to these works. (Do not include them in the Portfolio area of SlideRoom.)

    If the file size of either of your responses exceeds 10 MB, please embed a link to direct us to another viewing platform such as a personal website, Vimeo, etc.

    In the SlideRoom submission section for your two works, we also ask you to reflect on the two responses that you are sharing and provide a brief response to this question: What are the other directions or ideas you would explore as a next step?

  6. Writing sample

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

    You will find the writing prompts in the Personal Essay section of the Common Application.

    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 distinctive personal position in the samples you submit.

  7. 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 firsthand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student.

    Please use the Common Application to invite your recommendation writers to submit letters through that service. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to admissions@risd.edu.

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