All undergraduate students at RISD take first-year studios in Experimental and Foundation Studies , followed by a major course of study in a specific fine arts or design discipline beginning sophomore year. Rigorous courses in Liberal Arts enrich studio learning. Students graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and deep disciplinary knowledge along with strong critical thinking skills and the agility to problem solve and connect the dots across a wide range of fields.

Undergraduate degrees offered

Undergraduate students have the option of building on their degree programs to concentrate in one of six additional areas of study beyond a studio major. Concentrations at RISD are similar to “minors” at other colleges and universities. Totally optional, they offer important context and perspective while enriching the overall educational experience both in and beyond the studio.

Interdisciplinary concentrations

  1. Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies (NCSS)

    The interdisciplinary concentration in Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies (NCSS) invites undergraduates to shape individualized courses of study focused on the environmental humanities and the interconnected phenomena of contemporary life. Through the 21-credit concentration, students pursue issues related to biomimicry, emerging technologies, global warming, hybridity and sustainability, among other options, while developing an informed planetary perspective and broad-based critical thinking and problem solving skills.

  2. Computation, Technology and Culture (CTC)

    Introduced in spring 2017, the interdisciplinary Computation, Technology and Culture (CTC) curriculum integrating instruction in writing programming languages with critical, historical and theoretical frameworks for understanding the software, platforms and other technologies that shape society and culture. The 15-credit concentration provides students with the opportunity to incorporate digital technologies into art and design practices.

  3. Drawing

    Available in fall 2017, RISD’s newest concentration in Drawing offers an opportunity for deep engagement with a key aspect of research at RISD: the notion of drawing as speculation. Through studios highlighting the discipline’s fundamental connection to innovation and discovery, students come to understand drawing as both a practice integral to all art and design disciplines, and as an end in itself for the creation of resolved works of art. Students are encouraged to think critically about the history and evolving presence of drawing in the world, and consider the evolution of their own work in this context.

Liberal Arts concentrations

  1. History of Art + Visual Culture (HAVC)

    Embracing a wide range of media and critical perspectives, the 27-credit concentration in History of Art + Visual Culture emphasizes critical thinking and analysis, clarity of written and verbal communication, and an understanding of the value of artistic expression across cultures and throughout time.

  2. History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences (HPSS)

    As an interdisciplinary department focused on the psychological, social, political, philosophical and cultural aspects of life, the 24-credit concentration in History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences is built around nine focused tracks: Belief Systems; Environmental Studies; Gender, Sexuality and Race; Global Processes; Media, Technology and Cultural Studies; Mind, Self and Behavior; Politics and Policy; Regional Studies; and Scientific Inquiry.

  3. Literary Arts + Studies (LAS)

    Drawing on a wide range of literary traditions, genres, periods and theoretical approaches, the 27-credit concentration in Literary Arts + Studies enables students to pursue in-depth studies in literature and writing, emphasizing the fundamental relationships between reading, writing and creative processes. It supports the development of sophisticated critical thinking, reading and writing skills, along with a strong writing voice and a nuanced understanding of the role of literature in world culture.

Immersive and inspiring, graduate study at RISD offers students an opportunity to delve deep into a chosen field and emerge with a fresh approach to creative practice. Building on a strong foundation of research, grad students pursue and realize their ideas with great focus and intensity in an environment that embraces interdisciplinary breadth and intellectual depth. Most degree programs culminate with the creation and exhibition of a final body of studio work along with a written thesis that illuminates each individual’s process and thinking as an innovative maker.

Graduate degrees offered

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