• MFA | 2-year program

    This studio-based program offers a contemporary, urban context for rigorous investigation and dialogue in support of individual artistic development. Graduate study – and the inherent invitation to take risks and reinvent personal processes and thinking – occurs in the privacy of individual studio spaces, through independent research and experimentation in consultation with faculty advisors, as well as through inspiring interaction with peers. Many MFA candidates also choose to enrich and broaden their practice through interdisciplinary work.

  • Learning Outcomes

    Graduates are prepared to:

    • analyze fields of study in ceramics from different philosophical and historical perspectives

    • perfect clay construction, material experimentation and effects of firing

    • identify qualities in works of art and be able to reconstitute these qualities through making

    • understand the medium as a vehicle for expression and cultural advancement 

    • distinguish roles of form and function in an object

    • collaborate through dialogue and making

    • articulate and develop one's own visual language and manner of making

    • demonstrate installation skills and aesthetic sensibility for exhibiting work

    • evaluate one's own motivations for a chosen direction of work

    • situate one's work in both historical and contemporary contexts and base development of a chosen form on a thorough understanding of history

    • manage and maintain a professional studio practice 

  • Inspiring Community

    Undergraduate and graduate students exchange ideas and work together in this small, tightknit department, which generally enrolls approximately 12–15 undergraduate and 10–12 graduate students. The department’s six faculty members are deeply committed to the development of each individual artist and work closely with students to support their work. Graduate candidates tend to be professionally committed, materially articulate and intellectually curious, committed to pursuing areas of practice and research in pottery, sculpture, installation, design, architectural ceramics, decoration, community-engaged work, collaboration and other diverse ceramic processes and ideas. Each year the department also invites a series of visiting artists to campus to speak about their professional practices and offer constructive critical feedback.

  • Learning Environment

    Ceramics studios and facilities support the production of advanced work through state-of-the-art computerized Blaauw gas car and electric kilns; a mobile raku kiln; a computer lab and software for remote kiln control and monitoring, glaze calculation and database manipulation; wheels; a slab roller; extruders; a ram press; a clay mixing room; and newly refurbished plaster and glaze labs.

  • Curriculum

    Graduate students engage in independent studio work in ceramics, both on campus and off – through field research and participation in conferences in New York, Boston, Europe, Japan and elsewhere. Through active participation in studio critiques and seminars, graduate students investigate the social, historical, philosophical and technical foundations of ceramics, critical theory and contemporary issues. They learn to articulate their ideas through written and verbal communication as well as visual presentation.

    MFA first year

    • Fall
    • First-Year Graduate Studio Ceramics
    • Topics in Ceramic Material Science
    • Topics in Ceramic History
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • First-Year Graduate Studio Ceramics
    • Graduate seminar

    MFA second year

    • Fall
    • Second-Year Graduate Studio Ceramics
    • Seminar: Source Presentation
    • Graduate seminar
    • Non-major elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Graduate Studio Thesis
    • Non-major elective

  • Thesis Project

    In the final semester, degree candidates focus on creating a comprehensive body of work under the guidance of a thesis committee. All MFA candidates produce a written thesis, present an independent thesis exhibition and participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held annually.

  • Application Requirements

    1. application form + fee
    2. academic transcripts
    3. 3 letters of recommendation
    4. portfolio of work 
    5. statement of purpose
    6. TOEFL scores (for non-native English speakers)
      • The faculty selection committee in Ceramics is looking for evidence of the ability and preparedness to undertake graduate-level work. Portfolios should be professionally and concisely presented using only the highest quality images. Include all work that best represents your abilities, along with the breadth of your design and creative thinking.
      • For more information or to begin the application process, visit the Apply page.