MAT | 1-year program

The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is an intensive, one-year (summer through spring) cohort teacher preparation program for artists and designers eligible to work in the US that culminates in recommendation for teacher certification in art in US-based pK–12 schools. RISD’s MAT program is approved by the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a teacher preparation program and, as a result of the Interstate Compact, has reciprocity in at least 44 other states.

It is, however, important for applicants to understand that while RISD awards the MAT degree and recommends its graduates for certification or licensure, the award of teacher certification is determined by individual states, each of which has its own specific requirements. In other words, candidates must pass any teacher-certification test(s) required by individual states.

MAT first year

Mapping for Visual Arts Learning
Lab School: Learning through Art + Design
Lifespan: Exceptionality
Context, Content, and Practices in Art + Design Education
Design Education Studio Workshop
Studio or Liberal Arts elective
Student Teaching in Elementary School
Student Teaching in Secondary School
Degree Project

MA | 1-year program

The Master of Arts (MA) in Art + Design Education is a one-year (fall through spring) program for individuals seeking an advanced academic credential that furthers professional careers at the intersection of art, design and education. Through an individually designed sequence of courses, internships and independent study, the MA in Art + Design Education promotes rigorous inquiry coupled with an expansive breadth of discovery. Using RISD as an essential base, MA candidates customize their studies within our vibrant community, working in tandem with offerings at neighboring Brown University and in Providence’s diverse range of nonprofit cultural and educational institutions.

MA program first year

Critical Investigations in Arts Learning
Mapping for Visual Learning
Colloquium: Contemporary Practices in Arts Learning

Paul Sproll | graduate program director

Learning outcomes

Graduates of the MAT program are required to:

  • draw from their creative practice as artist and designers—along with their grounding in inquiry-based curriculum design—to inform, develop and implement high-quality pK–12 visual arts curricula
  • provide multiple forms of evidence of performance that meet or exceed Rhode Island Professional Teaching Standards (RIPTS)
  • meet or exceed the passing score on the state-mandated Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) test
  • meet or exceed the passing score on the state-mandated Art Content Knowledge test
  • Graduates of the MA program are prepared to:
  • articulate key issues, trends and research questions emanating from diverse visual arts/art and design learning contexts, including at K-12 schools (both during and after school hours), colleges and universities, cultural institutions and community-based organizations
  • display competence in inquiry-based teaching and learning
  • construct high-quality visual arts/art and design learning experiences for diverse formal and informal educational contexts
  • display competence in researching, writing and presenting a personal investigation in visual arts/art and design teaching and learning that provides a platform for future professional practice and advocacy

Inspiring community

At RISD prospective educators craft the foundations of their pedagogical practice within a vibrant community of artists, designers and scholars. Each year approximately 12–20 degree candidates work closely with TLAD faculty, professionals in the field at partner organizations and a range of visiting lecturers. When the time comes, faculty take particular pride in helping each degree candidate with a job search, which has led to an extremely high placement rate and greater job satisfaction for graduates.

Learning environment

Our experiential learning environment supports strong connections between graduate students and faculty who value studio-based learning and recognize the unique power of art and design in a changing society. In the MAT program, theoretical concepts are interwoven with scaffolded practical experiences—providing students with opportunities to test out ideas in authentic learning environments throughout the year. MA candidates work with a faculty adviser to co-construct individual programs of study utilizing an array of offerings centered at RISD and radiating out to the learning community at Brown University and the city of Providence-known as "the cultural capital." In short, TLAD candidates appreciate the flexibility of the program and the ability to tap into enormous expertise while making choices about their own education.

Project Open Door

For almost 10 years TLAD has been fine-tuning Project Open Door—a pioneering program launched in 2005 to mentor underserved urban teens with a passion for art and help them prepare for and apply to college. TLAD graduate students and others from the RISD community have a unique opportunity get involved in what is essentially a non-profit youth-based program housed in a college's academic department and established to literally envelop interested public high school students with intensive mentoring and other helpful resources at RISD.

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.

  7. Teaching + Learning in Art + Design specific requirements


    The state of Rhode Island requires that any candidate applying to a post-baccalaureate teacher education program in the state has achieved a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 as an undergraduate. Additionally, RISD’s department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design requires that each candidate show evidence of a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 in her/his studio studies. Any candidate who has already completed a Master’s degree must also show evidence of meeting these same cumulative GPA requirements.


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