BFA | 4-year program

Through challenging assignments, critiques, lectures, demonstrations, fieldtrips and one-on-one conversations, faculty members in Ceramics help students to discover individual artistic strengths, develop a personal voice and express a range of experiences.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • demonstrate proficiency in ceramic construction skills (hand-building, slip-casting, mold-making, and wheel-throwing) along with clay and glaze composition and effects of the firing sequence
  • develop work for different contexts, including indoor and outdoor installation, tile-work and tableware for restaurants
  • articulate the effects of ceramics in various environments (gallery, home, restaurant, architectural), including consideration of visual, functional, environmental and political aspects
  • understand the effects of new technologies on the field
  • identify and commit to focused study of a particular field in ceramics, such as sculpture, environmental arts, architecture, pottery or design


Inspiring community

A small department with approximately 10 undergraduates and 8 grad students, Ceramics offers strong individual support from faculty mentors. Every year a wide range of professionals in the field visit to offer demonstrations and workshops, along with critical feedback and new perspectives.

Learning environment

Ceramics majors work in private and communal workspaces on the third floor of RISD's Metcalf Building, where the studio environment fosters a ready exchange of ideas among both undergraduate and graduate students. The department also supports an outward focus through everything from the annual Bowlarama street fair/fundraiser to studios designed to connect students with members of the off-campus community. Ceramics majors often work on interdisciplinary projects with Architecture and Interior Architecture classes, install site-specific installations for various locations on campus and in the city, and design and fabricate tableware to complement a specific restaurant's cuisine and décor.

Curriculum

Sophomores are introduced to sculpture and pottery through the processes of throwing, hand-building, mold-making, glazing and firing. Technique is integrated with ideas, aesthetics and personal expression in the context of contemporary and historical ceramic practice. Juniors move beyond the studio and into the world through commissions and community-engaged projects. Digital technology is central in the Materials Research class for clay, glaze and advanced kiln firing approaches.

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
Moldmaking and Slipcasting
Object as Idea in Clay
Materials and Science
Liberal Arts electives
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Pottery
Figure Modeling
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
Topics in Ceramic History
Ceramic Sculpture
Open elective
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Clay in Context
Open electives
Liberal Arts electives

Senior

Fall
Senior Tutorial Studio
Seminar: Source Presentation
Advanced Pottery and Production
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Senior Thesis
Directed elective

Thesis project

During senior year, students create an independent body of work, supported by individual tutorials with faculty, group critiques and discussions. Professional practice is emphasized, with coaching on presentation skills, documentation, marketing, exhibitions and residencies.

Application requirements

  1. Common Application

    You’ll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the Common Application. 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). RISD will superscore your results. Subject tests are not required.

    RISD’s institution code number for the SAT is 3726; 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.

    RISD’s institution code number is 3726.

  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.

    Upload your portfolio to Slideroom through the Common Application.

  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