MFA | 2-year program
Building on solid technical skills and a proficient design process, MFA candidates in Textiles engage in individual research to develop a personal vision and an understanding of design as an expression of a continually evolving culture.
The program focuses on the woven, knit and print design of fabrics used for apparel and interior design applications. Geared towards those who have a background in textiles, along with experience in visual studies from an undergraduate program or professional practice, it helps students to broaden and sharpen their skills, hone their artistic identity and become well versed in the technical and creative potential of their chosen medium and its context. The program also emphasizes studies in drawing and color—along with participation in graduate seminars—as a means of building analytical and critical thinking skills.
The first year of the MFA program focuses on enriching students' creative background and expanding their skills, including the use of digital technology in design. The second year allows for more individual exploration of weaving, knitting or surface design, with the final semester culminating in a thesis project that entails both studio work and writing.
MFA first year
- Graduate Studio or CAD in Textiles or elective
- Open elective
- Textile Seminar I
- From an Idea to Meaning
- Open elective
- Graduate Studio or CAD in Textiles
- Open elective
- Textile Seminar II
MFA second year
- Graduate Studio
- Textiles Seminar III
- CAD in Textiles
- Open elective
- Open elective
- Graduate Studio
- Thesis Project
- Thesis Writing
- Open elective
Graduate student work
Brooks Hagan | graduate program director
"It's important that all MFA candidates in Textiles have a basic understanding of the medium, a strong visual vocabulary and exceptional motivation to undertake a rigorous program. Beyond that, however, students learn what they don't already know about hand-based techniques, digital design and operating advanced equipment while developing a critical language and context for their work."
Graduates are prepared to:
- implement the design process through the framing of content and context
- articulate the purpose and context for a finished work and how these may inform decisions in the process of creating it
- recognize the potential of textile materials, techniques and processes to articulate ambitious ideas
- display analytical and critical thinking/reasoning skills to support the development of one's work, as well as the work of others, and in order to engage in rigorous discourse related to historical and contemporary issues that influence the art and design fields
- exhibit strong visual and material competency, including an understanding of color, pattern, structure and materiality as they relate to the creation of two- and three-dimensional work
- demonstrate excellence in craftsmanship by creating wovens, knits and other material forms that are well considered, made and resolved
- demonstrate confidence and proficiency in the field, with emphasis on advanced equipment and processes
- become acquainted with scales of manufacturing and distribution
- recognize environmental/sustainability and social concerns related to textile processes and manufacturing
- articulate their role as designers in the field while demonstrating broad historical and theoretical awareness of textiles and its larger cultural and economic contexts, along with how it intersects with other disciplines
- explain the current field in the context of art, architecture, design and technology
- identify where the work will sit in the world
Textiles majors at RISD form a strong and supportive community, with approximately a dozen graduate students working together in various studios with more than 80 undergraduates and interacting with RISD's other 400-plus master's degree candidates. Faculty bring a wide range of professional expertise to working closely with graduate students to help each individual push his or her own capabilities and develop a strong, confident vision and direction for future work in the field.
Graduate students work closely with RISD's accomplished faculty, whose professional expertise ranges from digital technology to complex woven structures, including jacquard weaving. Vital connections to the profession are maintained through a required internship, seminar speakers, field trips, visiting critics and communications with experts in the field. Specialized facilities, high-end looms and professional software accommodate advanced work, while valuable resources outside the department include an outstanding textiles collection in the RISD Museum of Art and inspiring textiles resource materials in the Fleet Library at RISD.
In the final semester, MFA candidates focus on creating a comprehensive body of work under the guidance of a thesis committee. All graduate students produce a written thesis and participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held in the Rhode Island Convention Center.
Submit your RISD application form, and all other credentials, through the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60.
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.
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.
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the Graduate Admissions Office.
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.
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