Graphic Design

Undergraduate

  • BFA | 4-year program

    The undergraduate program in Graphic Design allows students to fully absorb an informed design process that provides lifelong support as they go on to engage in real-world design opportunities. Students gain a thorough understanding of the principles of design, theories of communication and strategies for problem solving.

  • Inspiring Community

    Despite being one of the largest departments at RISD, Graphic Design offers approximately 165 undergraduate majors countless opportunities to collaborate within and beyond the discipline. MFA candidates in the department work in a separate facility but interact with undergraduates as TAs and informal mentors who appreciate all opportunities to engage in meaningful exchange about graphic communication.

  • Learning Environment

    Graphic Design majors work in dedicated studios in the Design Center, where they have access to a wide array of digital and traditional printing and photographic resources, as well as specialized facilities for bookbinding, papermaking and screenprinting. Faculty members assign challenging projects covering everything from designing books, magazines and posters to UX and websites, film graphics, identities, packaging and exhibits. Each year dozens of visiting designers and critics spend time at RISD complementing the talents of resident faculty and offering alternative design perspectives from around the world.

  • Curriculum

    The core curriculum in Graphic Design builds a range of analytical, formal, sensory and technical design experiences. Sophomores begin exploring visual principles of form, image, color and typography. Conceptual thinking in areas such as communication theory, visual systems and information design forms the focus of the junior year. During senior year, emphasis is placed on design applications, with a range of electives available to expose students to specific areas of graphic design practice. Juniors and seniors also have opportunities to pursue professional internships over the summer or during the semester.

    Foundation Studies

    • Fall
    • Drawing I
    • Design I
    • Spatial Dynamics I
    • Liberal Arts courses
    • Wintersession
    • Non-major studio elective
    • Spring
    • Drawing II
    • Design II
    • Spatial Dynamics II
    • Liberal Arts courses

    Sophomore

    • Fall
    • Design Studio 1
    • Typography I
    • History of Graphic Design
    • Liberal Arts elective
    • Elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Design Studio 2
    • Typography 2
    • Color
    • Elective
    • Liberal Arts elective

    Junior

    • Fall
    • Design Studio 3
    • Typography 3
    • Elective
    • Liberal Arts elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Design Studio 4
    • Graphic Design electives
    • Graphic Design electives
    • Elective
    • Liberal Arts elective

    Senior

    • Fall
    • Graphic Design electives
    • Elective
    • Liberal Arts elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Degree Project
    • Graphic Design Elective
    • Elective
    • Liberal Arts elective

  • Degree Project

    Undergraduate study in Graphic Design culminates in a challenging, self-defined degree project that taps into each student's strengths, interests and experiences.

  • Application Requirements

    1. application form + fee
    2. official academic transcripts
    3. test scores: SAT or ACT and TOEFL or IELTS if English is not your first language
    4. portfolio of work 12–20 examples
    5. drawings 2 RISD-assigned samples
    6. writing samples 2 RISD-assigned pieces
    7. optional: letters of recommendation 1–3 suggested

    All freshman applicants apply to RISD as opposed to a specific department and begin with a required year of Foundation Studies. Students select a major midway through the first year but don’t begin those programs until sophomore year.

    For more information or to begin the application process, visit the Apply page.