BFA | 4-year program

Through challenging assignments, critiques, lectures, demonstrations, fieldtrips and one-on-one conversations, faculty members in Ceramics help students to discover individual artistic strengths, develop a personal voice and express a range of experiences.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • demonstrate proficiency in ceramic construction skills (hand-building, slip-casting, mold-making, and wheel-throwing) along with clay and glaze composition and effects of the firing sequence
  • develop work for different contexts, including indoor and outdoor installation, tile-work and tableware for restaurants
  • articulate the effects of ceramics in various environments (gallery, home, restaurant, architectural), including consideration of visual, functional, environmental and political aspects
  • understand the effects of new technologies on the field
  • identify and commit to focused study of a particular field in ceramics, such as sculpture, environmental arts, architecture, pottery or design


Inspiring community

A small department with approximately 10 undergraduates and 8 grad students, Ceramics offers strong individual support from faculty mentors. Every year a wide range of professionals in the field visit to offer demonstrations and workshops, along with critical feedback and new perspectives.

Learning environment

Ceramics majors work in private and communal workspaces on the third floor of RISD's Metcalf Building, where the studio environment fosters a ready exchange of ideas among both undergraduate and graduate students. The department also supports an outward focus through everything from the annual Bowlarama street fair/fundraiser to studios designed to connect students with members of the off-campus community. Ceramics majors often work on interdisciplinary projects with Architecture and Interior Architecture classes, install site-specific installations for various locations on campus and in the city, and design and fabricate tableware to complement a specific restaurant's cuisine and décor.

Curriculum

Sophomores are introduced to sculpture and pottery through the processes of throwing, hand-building, mold-making, glazing and firing. Technique is integrated with ideas, aesthetics and personal expression in the context of contemporary and historical ceramic practice. Juniors move beyond the studio and into the world through commissions and community-engaged projects. Digital technology is central in the Materials Research class for clay, glaze and advanced kiln firing approaches.

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
Moldmaking and Slipcasting
Object as Idea in Clay
Materials and Science
Liberal Arts electives
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Pottery
Figure Modeling
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
Topics in Ceramic History
Ceramic Sculpture
Open elective
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Clay in Context
Open electives
Liberal Arts electives

Senior

Fall
Senior Tutorial Studio
Seminar: Source Presentation
Advanced Pottery and Production
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Senior Thesis
Directed elective

Thesis project

During senior year, students create an independent body of work, supported by individual tutorials with faculty, group critiques and discussions. Professional practice is emphasized, with coaching on presentation skills, documentation, marketing, exhibitions and residencies.

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