BFA | 4-year program

Placing high value on the importance of creative individuality, Apparel Design professors assign a broad range of studio projects aimed at helping students to develop distinctive voices as creative professionals. Visits to New York's fashion district, along with required internships and competition opportunities, allow for important exposure to the industry.

Learning outcomes

The program equips students with the key technical, artistic and social attributes to contribute to and positively impact creative industries. Graduates are prepared to:

  • exhibit the key features of design thinking, including a strong working knowledge of the various modes of researching and concept building, superior design sketching, presentation and portfolio-building skills
  • utilize design technologies and demonstrate proficiency in digital pattern cutting, grading and CAD to a level required by Industry
  • apply design knowledge of sourcing, material analysis, tailoring and machine knitting to initiate and develop the concept of a fashion collection
  • demonstrate design practice to Industry standards through skills in pattern cutting, flat pattern and 3D draping, garment construction and fitting
  • utilize a design approach to master effective communication and presentation methodologies, strategic planning and organizational skills


Inspiring community

As a close-knit group of approximately 65 undergraduates, Apparel majors benefit from regular interaction with alumni and other visiting critics and design professionals. Each spring senior thesis collections are presented to the public in a professional runway show. For students this annual event is preceded by months of conceptual development, experimentation, meticulous assembly and precise fittings. The work shown in each year's Collection show is juried by a panel of guest critics – professional designers who carefully review and discuss the work together, to give students critical feedback and relevant industry perspectives.

Learning environment

Apparel Design majors work in well-equipped studios on a single floor of the same building. The open studio environment, coupled with ongoing feedback from faculty mentors and a ready exchange of ideas with peers, fosters a collaborative and supportive environment for honing personal expression through the creation of one-of-a-kind works of wearable art.

Curriculum

During sophomore year, students begin a series of technical classes that proceed from basic to advanced pattern drafting, draping and construction, and make use of computers as tools for designing and rendering apparel. Sophomores are fully immersed in creative practice, conversation and questioning as they accrue the necessary technical skills to develop their own responses.

Juniors focus on designing and making men's or women's tailored jackets, cut/sew knitwear projects as well as garments designed and created on the knitting machine. These advanced projects encourage forward-thinking design and emphasize the mastery of time-honored technical skills.

Foundation-year

Fall
Drawing I
Design I
Spatial Dynamics I
First-year Literature Seminar
Theory & History of Art & Design I
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Drawing II
Design II
Spatial Dynamics II
Topics in History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Theory & History of Art & Design II

Sophomore

Fall
Intro to Apparel Studio
Sophomore Design
History of Dress
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Sophomore Apparel Studio
Sophomore Design/Draw/CAD
Liberal Arts elective

Junior

Fall
Junior Design/Draw/CAD
Liberal Arts elective
Junior Tailoring Studio
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Junior Machine Knitwear Studio
Junior Cut and Sew Studio
Junior Design/Draw/CAD
Liberal Arts elective

Senior

Fall
Senior Collection Development
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Senior Apparel Collection
Liberal Arts elective

Senior thesis project

In the final year, seniors design and create a coat collection and intern at a design house in New York. Primary emphasis is placed on a senior thesis collection – a unified body of work that expresses a personal design sensibility and showcases professional-grade conceptual and technical skills.

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

    You will upload your portfolio in SlideRoom through the Common Application.

    Your portfolio should present 12–20 examples of your most recent work that showcases your thinking and making. The work should reflect a full range of your ideas, interests, experiences and abilities in the arts. This can include work in any medium, in finished or sketch form, and can be the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration.

    We recommend that you include some developmental research and/or preparatory work for one of your submissions. It is helpful to show your process of thinking and investigation so we can see how you develop your ideas. A sketchbook or journal page may be an appropriate way to share your process. Consider also including the finished piece and preparatory work(s) in a single image. There is an area in SlideRoom where you can include brief text descriptions for your submissions.

    We strongly discourage the submission of works in PDF format that include multiple pages, especially when there are numerous elements on a single page. These are difficult for reviewers to view and assess and are likely to exceed the allowed limit of 20 work examples.

  5. The Assignment

    Choose one of the following three prompt options and create two responses using any medium (no restrictions).

    • error
    • verify
    • forge

    Each of these prompts has more than one meaning or usage. You might want to begin by referring to dictionary sources to expand your initial reaction and inform your direction. We consider this assignment to be as much about process as presentation. We encourage you to consider your submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and risk-taking more than final presentations or examples of technical proficiency. No mode of expression is valued more than another, so feel free to explore the full range of possibilities.

    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 response exceeds 10MB, embed a link to direct us to another viewing platform such as a personal website, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

    Along with these works, reflect on the two responses you are sharing and provide a brief, written 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, 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 Theory + History of Art + Design