At RISD the exploration of both studio arts and liberal arts makes for a powerful experience. In fact, RISD stands out among art schools for its emphasis on liberal arts study, led by doctorate-level faculty in archaeology, anthropology, biology, cognitive science, creative writing, literature, history, art history, performance studies, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology and more.

Liberal Arts departments

All RISD students are required to take a third of their classes in liberal arts, a division that includes three departments:

History of Art + Visual Culture

History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences

Literary Arts + Studies

Additional Liberal Arts electives, including Science for Art and Design Education Courses, may be used to fulfill liberal arts requirements.

In addition to offering a wide range of courses, each department also allows for a “concentration”—a more focused program of study for students interested in concentrating their liberal arts studies within one of the departments. Liberal Arts faculty are also open to working with students one-on-one through for-credit Independent Study Projects (ISPs).

The mission of the Liberal Arts division is threefold: to provide a strong general education, to offer possibilities for focused study, and to foster opportunities for deepening and enriching art and design practice. In Liberal Arts classes students learn to articulate ideas with independence and confidence; think creatively, critically and analytically; and develop a lifelong curiosity about the world.

For more information

Gail Hughes
Division Coordinator, Operations and Administration
401 454-6572

Karen Montecalvo
Division Assistant, Operations and Administration
401 454-6569

Coreen Mook
Division Assistant, Academic Programs
401 454-6569


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