For five weeks between the fall and spring semesters, RISD offers students a complete change of pace. Wintersession—as this condensed semester is known—allows for an intense exploration of a specific discipline, a special topic, new techniques, experimental processes and more. Faculty and graduate students embrace Wintersession as an opportunity to experiment with more innovative course offerings suitable to a shorter timeframe—from performance art workshops to targeted project research to travel-study studios abroad.

Recharging both on campus and off

Many students look to Wintersession as a time to get a feel for disciplines outside their majors, or to head to New York, London, Milan or Los Angeles—wherever their particular fields offer the most meaningful professional internships. Those who remain on campus choose from a range of Wintersession courses. Recent offerings include such basics as Animation I-A, Beginning Hot Glass and The Woven Blanket, and slightly more esoteric offerings such as Monster, Optics and Holograms, True Crime and a studio exploring various ramifications of whaling.

Students also take advantage of Wintersession as a time to schedule co-curricular activities that are more difficult to fit it during fall and spring semesters. For instance, RISD Quickies is a series of student-taught workshops on everything from cheese-making to silkscreening. Performance-minded students often get involved in writing, directing and acting in musicals and other theatrical productions.

All in all, Wintersession offers a respite from the routine and has proven to be the perfect prescription for recharging creative energy.

Wintersession travel-study options

Each year during Wintersession (early January to mid February), RISD offers a number of courses designed to introduce students to the arts, architecture, design and culture of other countries and regions in the US. Small study groups travel abroad to destinations in India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, among other countries.

In recent years, students have studied photography in Paris, Renaissance painting techniques in Florence, puppetry in Bali, signs and symbols in Ghana, environmental issues in Costa Rica and shoe design in northern Europe. Domestic travel/study courses also take students around the US to investigate regional architecture, national park sites and urban issues. Costs and travel arrangements vary from course to course.

Learn more about options abroad on the RISD Global site.

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