MA | 1-year+ program

The Master of Arts in Adaptive Reuse is a unique specialist design education in adaptive reuse that functions as a post-professional program for students who have previously earned a degree in architecture. Establishing a clear aesthetic, theoretical and technological framework for study in the field, students develop socially and environmentally responsible practices and expand on their knowledge of reuse as an aspect of an architectural practice. The 45-credit curriculum provides specific focus on the practice of adaptive reuse through design studios and additional coursework.

MA program preliminary year

Summer
Summer Studio in Scandinavia
Scandinavian Design and Architecture

MA program first year

Fall
Advanced Design Studio
Applied Building Systems for Adaptive Reuse
Theory of Adaptive Reuse
Open elective
Wintersession
Open electives
Spring
Principles of Adaptive Reuse
Adaptive Reuse Design Studio
Graduate Adaptive Reuse Seminar
Open elective

MA learning outcomes

Graduates of the MA program are prepared to:

  • engage in the practice and implementation of adaptive reuse in the built environment through the demonstration of an appropriate aesthetic, theoretical and technological framework
  • expand upon the architect's understanding of reuse as a product of practice and in the context of architectural history and theory
  • develop strategies for acknowledging the importance of social and environmental responsibility through design projects
  • view and evaluate adaptive reuse through a multifaceted lens
  • recognize the origins of adaptive reuse as well as the contemporary context governing current practice
  • use qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate the economic and environmental merits of adaptive reuse
  • become ambassadors of adaptive reuse as a specialty in the professional design setting through the advancement of such practice at conferences and as built work


MDes: Adaptive Reuse | 2-year+ program

The Master of Design (MDes) in Interior Studies provides a design education focused on altering existing structures through interior interventions and adaptive reuse. The curriculum approaches subject matter through a sequence of design studios and core support courses that equip students with a body of knowledge for understanding design and its implementation. In addition, students in the MDes in Interior Studies program can also concentrate in Nature, Culture and Sustainability Studies through the Division of Liberal Arts.

MDes program: preliminary year

Fall
Open elective

MDes program: first year

Fall
Intro to Design Studio II
Structures and Materials for Adaptive Reuse
Advanced Drawing and Computing Tectonics
History of Adaptive Reuse
Wintersession
Open elective

MDes program: second year

Fall
Advanced Design Studio
Human Factors, Ergonomics and Acoustics
Open elective
Design Thesis Preparation
Wintersession
Theory Seminar: Investigating Interiority
Spring
Design Thesis Studio
Codes and Details

MDes: Adaptive Reuse learning outcomes

Graduates of the MDes program are prepared to:

  • adopt a clear aesthetic, theoretical and technological framework for interior studies in order to engage in this subject in the design field
  • investigate different aspects of design interventions in the built environment
  • articulate the distinctive nature of interior studies as an effective member of a design team able to interact and collaborate with fellow professionals in related fields
  • develop design strategies that recognize the importance of social and environmental responsibility
  • assess the spatial transformation capabilities of an existing structure
  • formulate an original design concept based on research and evaluate, develop, present and advocate coherent design propositions
  • understand and incorporate related consultant feedback as part of the collaborative process in a professional setting


MDes: Exhibition and Narrative Environments | 2-year+ program

The Master of Design (MDes) for Exhibition and Narrative Environments explores these spaces through a unique curriculum that combines design studios and coursework in Interior Studies. In addition, students in this program engage in related studies through the RISD Museum as well as the Digital + Media, Graphic Design, and History of Art and Visual Culture departments.

MDes program: preliminary year

Fall
Open elective

MDes program: first year

Fall
Intro to Design Studios
Advanced Drawing and Computing Tectonics
Open electives
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Advanced Design Studio
Spatial Perception: Light and Color
Museum Fellowship

MDes program: second year

Fall
Advanced Design Studio
Human Factors, Ergonomics and Acoustics
Design Thesis Preparation
Museum Fellowship
Wintersession
Theory Seminar: Investigating Interiority
Spring
Codes and Details
Design Thesis Studio
Open elective

Inspiring community

Approximately 45 graduate students and 55 undergraduates are pursuing degrees in the Interior Architecture department, working together in the Angelo Donghia Studio for Interior Architecture on the fifth floor of RISD's Center for Integrative Technologies. Students come from around the world and work with more than 25 full- and part-time faculty members who practice internationally and were educated in Germany, Portugal, Canada, the US and elsewhere. This lends the department has a very global, cosmopolitan feel and allows for especially fruitful collaborations and critical exchange.

Learning environment

Design studios are at the heart of both the MA and MDes programs, with seminars and research-based practice also enabling students to hone their theoretical and design skills and understanding of relevant technologies. For those who have earned a BArch or first professional degree in Architecture, the MA program provides a specialized post-professional education centered on adaptive reuse. It equips graduates to engage in the practice of adaptive reuse and incorporate strategies that emphasize social and environmental responsibility. For students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than architecture, the MDes program provides a unique design education on the alteration of existing structures through interior interventions and adaptive reuse, outside the confines of professional architectural licensure.

Curriculum

The MDes program involves a sequence of five design studios and core support courses designed to provide the requisite knowledge and understanding of design and its implementation so that graduates may practice as socially and environmentally responsible designers with a specialized knowledge and understanding of adaptive reuse. In the MA program, an intensive summer immersion is followed by one full year of study that culminates in a self-directed final project.

Degree projects

Each MA candidate produces a final project that begins with a research component in the fall and evolves into a studio/design project in the spring. MDes candidates demonstrate competency through self-directed Degree Projects that include a seminar on theory, a research component and a studio component. Each DP focuses on the transformation of an existing structure of their choice in the city of Providence. All MA and MDes candidates also participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held in the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Application requirements

  1. Application form

    Submit your RISD application form, and all other credentials, through the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60.

  2. Academic transcripts

    Initially, you must provide unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate and/or graduate study indicating satisfactory completion, or evidence of anticipated completion, of an undergraduate degree program from an accredited college or university. You can upload your unofficial transcripts within the RISD Applicant Portal. If your academic credentials are prepared in a language other than English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator before submitting. Enrolling students will later be required to submit official transcripts.

  3. Portfolio

    Graduate applicants are required to submit 10–20 examples of visual work, with certain programs suggesting more specific ideas or portfolio requirements (see below).

    Include your portfolio images within your application.

    Specific program instructions:

    Digital + Media | Your portfolio should contain 10 samples total, which can be a combination of images and videos. You may submit up to 5 videos, with a total run time of no more than five minutes for all videos combined. Please do not submit multi-page PDF files. Each sample should be accompanied by text identifying the medium and year, and a four-sentence description explaining the concepts that inform your work and is no more than 50 words. If collaborative projects are presented, you must clearly identify your individual contribution.

    Furniture Design | In the MFA programs, students make their own work as part of learning from, and with, materials. This applies to tests and models as well as to full-size objects at human scale. Material experimentation includes traditional, new and hybrid materials as appropriate to individual student interests.

    In addition to your portfolio materials uploaded to Slideroom, we invite you to include a self-made video no more than 20 seconds duration of you making something. We are not looking for video with professional production values; we are interested in seeing you making something – small, large, modest or complex, any making action can work, the choice is yours. This is an option you might enjoy adding to your submission for us to learn more about your interests. Finally, please title your video.

    Landscape Architecture | All applicants to the Master's of Landscape Architecture degree programs are required to submit a portfolio and an additional video essay. Your portfolio should contain 10 individually produced and carefully chosen images of work that reflects your interests in landscape and the discipline of landscape architecture. Applicants to the MLA-1 program who have no prior design training may include photographs, sketches or written work that conveys their ability to observe, identify and explore spatial conditions within the landscape. All other applicants should include a selection of work that best represents the development of their interest in this field of study. All work should be labeled to indicate if it is academic, professional or personal. If team projects are presented, your individual contribution must be clearly identified. The portfolio should include a minimal amount of text.

    Prepare a short video of yourself telling us:

    • The most important reason you are motivated to study landscape architecture
    • At least one goal you hope to achieve in your graduate education
    • Why you think RISD is the best place to achieve your goals

    You are encouraged to be authentic and heartfelt in your response. This essay will function as the beginning of a conversation you will continue to have if you enter the program at RISD and it does not have to be the same information provided in your written essay. Cell phone videos are accepted as well. Maximum length: 2 minutes.

    Master of Arts in Teaching | MAT | Your portfolio should consist of 20 images exhibiting the depth and breadth of your studio experience. Ten images should represent work that reflects your investigations within a single medium; seven images should represent your confidence in handling a variety of media; and three images need to be samples of drawings.

    Master of Arts in Art + Design Education | MA | Submit a portfolio of 20 images that most clearly represent your creative practice as an artist or designer.

  4. Statement of purpose

    Graduate applicants must submit a written statement (500–750 words) outlining their interest and goals in pursuing graduate study. Several programs suggest more specific ideas or written requirements as outlined below.

    Specific program instructions:

    Digital + Media | Within the statement of purpose, the committee seeks a clear explanation of the applicant’s goals for both their time in school and afterwards, and how the MFA in Digital + Media is specifically suited to support these goals. This statement should address the following questions: what are you interested in exploring conceptually? What outcomes do you hope to get from the degree? Where do you see yourself after graduation? In addition to the statement of purpose, applicants should outline their working methodology or practice from initial research to project realization.

    Landscape Architecture | Your essay should describe how your interest in landscape developed, how the work in your portfolio is indicative of that development and why the landscape architecture program at RISD seems well suited to your goals.

    Photography | In addition to a statement of purpose, applicants should send an artist’s statement describing the work included in their portfolio. In other words, the artist’s statement should be about the work submitted, while the statement of purpose should address why you are seeking a graduate degree.

    Master of Arts in Teaching | MAT | Submit a statement describing your work as an artist or designer. What is it about? How do you feel your academic, studio or work experience prepares you for entry to a graduate teacher education program? Discuss how, in your opinion, the quality of an educator’s artistic practice contributes to high-quality arts learning for children and youth. Since the significance of arts education in K–12 schools is not universally recognized, please provide a succinct argument for including the visual arts as a required core subject for all students at this level.

    Master of Arts in Art + Design Education | MA | Submit a written statement (500–750 words) describing your interest in pursuing the MA. Describe how you might customize a program of study that maximizes the resources of RISD, Brown and the city in support of your particular interest in art and design education. In what ways do you, at this time, anticipate that earning an MA will advance your professional development and career aspirations?

  5. Letters of recommendation

    Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. 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 for graduate study. You may invite your recommenders to upload their letters through your Applicant Portal. If your recommenders are unable to submit using this method, their letters may be emailed to admissions@risd.edu or mailed to the Graduate Admissions Office.

  6. Tests

    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. The language test requirement may be waived for applicants who are enrolled in an institution where English is the language of instruction.

    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 by the test agency.

    Graduate Record Exam (GRE) | Results from the Graduate Record Examination are not required, but MA, MAT and MLA candidates are encouraged to submit their scores.

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