MFA | 2-year program

RISD's graduate program in Jewelry + Metalsmithing cultivates individual excellence by emphasizing rigorous research, material experimentation and creative practice. Graduate students produce meaningful work by being encouraged to question and investigate the forces that motivate them and to engage in critical discourse with the creative community within and beyond the department.

MFA first year

Graduate Studio I
Graduate Jewelry Seminar I
Non-major Studio elective
Elective Graduate Seminar
Graduate Jewelry I
Non-major Studio elective
Graduate Studio II
Graduate Jewelry Seminar II
Non-major or Studio elective
Elective Graduate Seminar
Graduate Jewelry II

MFA second year

Graduate Studio III
Graduate Jewelry Seminar III
Graduate Jewelry III
Elective Graduate Seminar
Non-Major Studio elective
Non-major Studio elective
Graduate Jewelry Seminar IV
Non-major Studio elective
Graduate J+M Thesis

MFA learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • be conversant with research precedents and conditions to establish premises for original work
  • articulate and defend the positioning of original work in light of historical, theoretical and conceptual influences
  • understand the distinctions between and benefits of visual and verbal modes of communication in studio practice by both creating and describing original work
  • situate one's work in contemporary contexts and advance the broader conversation in the field

Inspiring community

With its small size and high ratio of faculty to students, the program offers focused, individual attention to a dozen graduate students as they define their methodologies, delve into research areas of their own choosing and explore the intersections between art, craft and design. Graduate students inspire each other and also benefit from the wide range of visiting artists, critics and practicing professionals from around the world who are invited to campus to offer critical input.

Learning environment

Both graduate and undergraduate students (approximately 35) work with high-end equipment in the department's specialized facilities but each person also has an assigned workbench with a torch, ventilation and storage. Graduate students engage in work independently and need to remain open-minded and responsive to feedback and dialogue. Risk-taking is imperative for advancing individual creative practice and locating one's work within a larger contemporary context. In short, graduate students are expected to open up new, uncharted territory and demonstrate high levels of competency, setting the standard for the department as a whole.


As an important supplement to studio classes, the graduate seminar addresses issues particular to the field, along with broader concerns in contemporary art. Seminars are structured around the analysis of readings, presentations and field trips, with the resulting discourse creating a bridge between theoretical concerns and hands-on making.

In addition to the standard MFA program, the post-baccalaureate option allows candidates with diverse professional backgrounds and conceptual interests to gain technical proficiency and critical feedback through a year-long immersion working one-on-one with a designated faculty member.

Thesis project

In the final semester, degree candidates focus on creating a comprehensive body of work under the guidance of a thesis committee. All MFA candidates produce a written thesis and participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held in the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Post-baccalaureate | technical concentration

J+M also offers a unique course of study: a custom-designed, year-long program for students interested in building upon their undergraduate experience. Based on one-on-one work with a designated faculty member, the program helps students combine conceptual thinking and technical abilities into a well-rounded studio practice tailored to individual interests.

first year

Jewelry CAD/CAM
Metal Fabrication
Junior: Color Matters
Open electives
Open electives
Professional Practice
Senior Degree Project
Graduate Studio
Open elective

Post-baccalaureate | conceptual concentration

J+M also offers a unique course of study: a custom-designed, year-long program for students interested in building upon their undergraduate experience. Based on one-on-one work with a designated faculty member, the program helps students combine conceptual thinking and technical abilities into a well-rounded studio practice tailored to individual interests.

first year

Sophomore History of Adornment
Undergraduate Seminars
Graduate J+M Seminar I
Graduate J+M Seminar III
Open elective
Open elective
Undergraduate Seminars
ISP Research + Practices
Graduate J+M Seminar II
Graduate J+M Seminar IV
Open elective

Timothy Veske-McMahon | graduate program director

“Our graduate program in Jewelry + Metalsmithing is both a bastion of tradition and a vanguard of innovation. We offer students individualized support from diversely skilled and experienced faculty members, along with distinguished guest critics who propel them along personal lines of research. We cultivate professional curiosity as well as empathy, encouraging students to respect otherness and reject cultural and aesthetic appropriation.”

Post-baccalaureate learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • understand how the history of adornment influences contemporary movements in jewelry
  • gain a greater awareness of current topics specific to the discipline, such as value of materials, authorship, audience and personal identity
  • move an original idea from conception to realization through well-crafted work
  • articulate personal concepts and show creative development through a strong portfolio of work
  • develop the competence and confidence to pursue a well-informed practice as a jewelry designer, either through an established studio or working independently
  • demonstrate the technical and theoretical background necessary to pursue an advanced degree in the field

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 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.


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