BFA | 4-year program

Intensive study of conceptual, formal and practical issues related to historical and contemporary prints in the RISD Museum of Art and other collections in the region provides inspiration through direct contact with original works of art. Critical insights from faculty, visiting artists and other print-world professionals help students to develop mature personal work responsive to the issues defining the field today.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • develop the self-reflective capacity to explain why they are making prints
  • be conversant with the history of the printmaking field
  • articulate the conceptual grounding of their work and defend it through critical dialogue
  • demonstrate knowledge and technical skills in varied printmaking contexts, from intaglio, lithography and silkscreen to related disciplines such as illustration, textiles and photography


Inspiring community

Approximately 36 undergraduates work alongside 14 graduate students in the department's dedicated facilities in Benson Hall. Students at all levels – both within the department and beyond, in fine arts and design majors – inspire each other through provocative individual inquiry and exploration. In addition, Printmaking majors are very curious, open and willing to help each other in any way they can.

Learning environment

In addition to having access to state-of-the-art facilities in Benson Hall, Printmaking majors regularly take advantage of RISD resources that are especially helpful for research and personal growth. Just across the street, in the RISD Museum of Art's Minskoff Center for Prints, Drawings and Photographs, students have access to a collection of 26,000 works on paper from the 15th century to the present. Direct study of these works offers invaluable insights and inspiration, as does hands-on access to specimens in the Nature Lab and in the Fleet Library's extraordinary collection of artists' books.

Curriculum

After completing RISD's required first-year Foundation Studies program, sophomores who choose this major are introduced to the basic forms of printmaking – intaglio, lithography and silkscreen. Juniors continue to hone their conceptual, critical and technical skills through a number of Printmaking electives or studios in related disciplines such as Illustration, Textiles and Photography.

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
Lithography I
Printmaking or other Studio elective
Liberal Arts electives
Relief Projects I
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Intaglio I
Waterbase Silkscreen I
Printmaking or other Studio elective
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
Workshop: Light to Ink
Junior Printmaking Workshop: Seminar/Critique
Printmaking or other Studio elective
Liberal Arts electives
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Junior Printmaking Workshop: Seminar/Critique
Printmaking or other Studio elective
Liberal Arts electives

Senior

Fall
Senior Printmaking Workshop: Critique
Senior Printmaking Workshop: Seminar
Printmaking or other Studio elective
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Senior Printmaking Degree Project: Critique
Printmaking or other Studio elective
Liberal Arts elective

Degree project

In the third year of the program, seniors work more independently, refining a personal visual vocabulary through a final Degree Project - a body of work that demonstrates each individual's technical strengths, along with his/her conceptual clarity and depth.

Application requirements

  1. Common Application

    You’ll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the Common Application. 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). RISD will superscore your results. Subject tests are not required.

    RISD’s institution code number for the SAT is 3726; 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.

    RISD’s institution code number is 3726.

  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.

    Upload your portfolio to Slideroom through the Common Application.

  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