BFA | 4-year program

While RISD's Textiles department has a reputation for preparing students to become highly skilled designers in the field, equal attention is given to a fine arts approach, with special projects and classes focused on issues specific to creating one-of-a-kind works of art. As students develop artistically and their design and creative processes improve, they're encouraged to apply newfound technical skills and advanced techniques to making innovative two- and three-dimensional work.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • engage in the design process by framing a premise and iterating material responses as an idea evolves
  • understand the purpose and context of a finished work and how these may inform decisions made in the process of creating it
  • articulate inspirations, explain interpretations and defend solutions in one's own creative process
  • demonstrate strong visual and material competency - including in color, pattern, texture, structure and materiality - in regards to the creation of two- and three-dimensional work
  • demonstrate excellence in craftsmanship by creating wovens, knits and surface works that are well considered, deftly made and fully resolved
  • explain the current field in the context of art, architecture, design and technology
  • demonstrate broad historical and theoretical awareness of the textile field and its larger disciplinary, cultural and economic contexts
  • recognize environmental/sustainability and social concerns related to textile processes and manufacturing


Learning environment

The department maintains a close connection to the field through its alumni, group field trips, professional internships and guest speakers and critics. In recent years, students have worked on collaborative projects with companies such as DesignTex, Bed Bath & Beyond, Hanna Andersson, dkny and Merida Meridian, among others. The experience of developing design collections with professional partners and adhering to industry standards has proven to be invaluable as students embark on their own paths after graduation.

Inspiring community

Approximately 80 undergraduates and a dozen graduate students work together in various studios readily sharing ideas and offering each other feedback and assistance. In addition, the practicing professionals who teach in the department are fully committed to supporting the development of artists and designers who are eager to energize the field. Faculty work with students individually and in groups to help each Textiles graduate develop a strong personal vision and a deep understanding of all aspects of the discipline.

Curriculum

In the first year of the program, sophomores learn various methods of print design, silkscreen, weaving, knitting and dyeing before choosing to focus on either fine arts work or industry-related projects. Juniors concentrate on more advanced techniques by focusing on an area or areas of personal interest, developing individual concepts and broadening perspectives by taking courses in other disciplines. In addition to producing a final degree project, seniors pursue internships designed to strengthen connections to the professional world.

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
Surface Design
From an Idea to Meaning
Fibers and Dyeing
Liberal Arts electives
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Weaving I
Fabric Silkscreen
Knitting Machine Techniques
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
CAD in Textiles
Textiles Studio electives
Liberal Arts electives
Open electives
Wintersession
Non-major Studio electives
Spring
CAD in Textiles
Liberal Arts electives
Open elective

Senior

Fall
Textiles Studio electives
Liberal Arts elective
Open elective
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Textiles Degree Project
Liberal Arts elective

Degree project

Senior year culminates in a final degree project that defines each student's personal area of interest, mode of working and future direction.

Application requirements

  1. Application form

    You'll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the application form provided on the Common Application website. 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). Subject tests are not required.

    RISD’s CEEB code number for the SAT is 003726; 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.

  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.

    Portfolios must be submitted through SlideRoom, an online portfolio service (which requires an additional $10 fee).

  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