BFA | 4-year program

Progressively more challenging studio projects enable ID majors to build an awareness of materials and gain an in-depth understanding of visual and 3D vocabulary through hands-on work. Professors emphasize both the traditional values behind industrial design and current trends in the profession as students progress from creating developmental drawings, to three-dimensional mock-ups and models, to working drawings and prototypes that incorporate manufacturing considerations.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

• develop material ideas with facility, clarity and rigor

• conceptualize and develop ideas imaginatively and accurately in three dimensions

• effectively communicate their design intent to disparate audiences (including clients, users and fabricators)

• apply knowledge of user experience, human factors, applied ergonomics, contextual inquiry, user preference studies and usability assessments in the design development process

• understand the contribution their work is making to the profession and the discipline

• exercise collaborative skills for working across disciplines and in multidisciplinary fields

Inspiring community

Approximately 285 undergraduates and 35 graduate students work together in a six-floor former manufacturing facility renovated to suit the department's needs. In sharing studio, shop and gallery spaces, students readily exchange ideas and learn from each other. Faculty with a broad range of professional experience and expertise fully engage with students - both in class and through informal conversations in the studio.

Learning environment

ID majors often engage in collaborative work, both with students and faculty in other departments and with off-campus partners at MIT's Sloan School of Management, Brown University, NASA and Massachusetts General Hospital, among others. Wintersession internships and sponsored studio projects backed by such corporations as Samsung, Kimberly Clark, Progressive, Timberland and others provide market-based design opportunities. In addition, ID students often work on sustainable projects for underserved populations in the US and countries such as Costa Rica and Argentina.

Curriculum

The program begins sophomore year with skill-based exposure to both traditional and state-of-the-art techniques for visualization. Through the manipulation of wood, metal, paper and plastic, students begin to understand the unique properties of these materials and the design possibilities inherent in them.

Junior year builds on the skills learned the first year by encouraging students to focus on projects dealing with technology as it applies to products, form and human factors, mechanics and movement, and more.

During senior year, students take advanced design studios, learn more about legal and business practices in the profession and undertake projects that emphasize innovation and the ability to refine formal design issues.

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
Wood I
Metal I
Design Principles I
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Liberal Arts or Non-major Elective
Spring
Design Principles II
History of Industrial Design
Designing with SolidWorks
Liberal Arts elective

Junior

Fall
Metal II or Wood II
Special Topic Studios
Manufacturing Techniques or Non-major Elective
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Liberal Arts or Non-major Elective
Spring
Advanced Design Studio
Manufacturing Techniques or Non-major Elective
Liberal Arts elective
Metal II or Wood II

Senior

Fall
Advanced Design Studio
Advanced CAD or Non-major Elective
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Liberal Arts or Non-major Elective
Spring
Advanced Design Studio
Advanced CAD or Non-major Elective
Liberal Arts elective

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