BFA | 4-year program
Glass is a dynamic medium with limitless possibilities and a surprising amount of impact in the worlds of art and design. As a Glass major, you'll work with professors and visiting artists in the Hot Shop and beyond to develop your skills in glass blowing, mold making, casting and cold working. Not only does this hands-on training lead to a mastery of skills, it addresses the ever-present question of how material and concept inform one another and lays the foundation for a well-rounded professional studio practice.
Based on the strength of their experience at RISD, Glass alumni tend to remain closely connected with the department. Whether returning as visiting artists and critics or providing internships for current students, they help influence subsequent generations. Accomplished alumni such as Dale Chihuly, Dan Clayman, Karen Lamonte, Judith Schaechter, Tavares Strachan, Bohyun Yoon, Toots Zynsky and many others continue to push the boundaries of the medium and make enormous contributions to advancing the role of glass in contemporary art and design.
Graduates are prepared to:
- demonstrate technical acuity in glass processes, including casting, moldmaking, hot glass work and coldworking
- identify, locate and refer to appropriate precedents in developing a body of work and position it within historical and contemporary fine arts contexts
- exhibit team working skills in the creative process, handling of materials and the use and maintenance of glass facilities and equipment
- consistently utilize comprehensive safety practices in all aspects of studio work
- recover gracefully from failure, understanding it as a natural part of the creative process and an opportunity for learning and improving
- demonstrate conceptual problem-solving skills while employing a rigorous methodology that guides the development of original works of art
The nature of glass necessitates collaboration among a close-knit community of artists exploring the same medium from a wide range of perspectives. Glass fosters close interactions among undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and visiting artists. Studio work, critiques, seminars and both group and individual projects support full engagement in the exciting dialogues surrounding contemporary art, sculpture, craft and design.
Approximately 30 undergraduates and grad students work in the department's newly renovated Hot Shop, a custom facility offering a half-ton continuous-melt glass furnace, a 700-lb. casting furnace, an extensive Cold Shop, 15 computer programmed kilns and a well-rounded casting facility. One of the favorite features of the department is the Degree Program Workshop - a vibrant series of presentations by visiting artists, critics and curators. Direct interaction with this amazing range of professionals offers students an ideal way to learn about contemporary art, glass and professional practice.
Undergraduate student work
In the first year of the program, sophomores develop conceptual problem solving skills by making work in response to specific assignments and gaining a technical foundation in glass blowing, cold working, mold making and casting. Juniors continue to develop a conceptual and critical vocabulary through rigorous studio work. An intermediate glassblowing studio and a glass history course help refine and strengthen students' understanding of the medium and its origins.
- Drawing I
- Design I
- Spatial Dynamics I
- First-year Literature Seminar
- Theory and History of Art and Design I: Global Modernisms
- Non-major studio elective
- Drawing II
- Design II
- Spatial Dynamics II
- Topics in History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
- Theory and History of Art and Design II: Premodern Worlds
- Glass Studio 1A
- Beginning Glassworking
- Glass Coldworking
- Liberal Arts elective
- Open elective
- Glass Studio 1B
- Glass Casting—Moldmaking
- Liberal Arts electives
- Glass Studio 2A
- Glass Degree Program Workshop 2A
- Intermediate Glassblowing
- Open electives
- Open elective
- Glass Studio 2B
- Glass Degree Program Workshop 2B
- History of Glass
- Open electives
- Glass Studio 3A
- Glass Degree Program Workshop 3A
- Liberal Arts elective
- Open elective
- Glass Degree Program Workshop 3B
- Glass Degree Project 3B
- Liberal Arts elective
Throughout the year seniors work on self-directed projects as they define and refine their thesis. Through individual and group critiques with faculty, peers, visiting artists and critics, students develop a significant body of work. Thesis work is presented in public exhibitions both on and off campus. The culmination of the thesis year provides students with the resources needed to prepare for professional practice in the field.
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.
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.
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.
English language proficiency tests
All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from any one of these three options: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or Duolingo (an online English test). Since proficiency in English is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants must attain an acceptable score on their chosen test; RISD requires a minimum result of 93 on the TOEFL, a 6.5 on IELTS or a 63 on Duolingo.
Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take three weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD by the test agency. Duolingo test results may take up to four days to be received by RISD.
The language test requirement may be waived for applicants who have studied in an institution where English is the language of instruction. You must contact the Admissions Office to explain your school history and determine if you are eligible.
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.
Choose one of the following three prompt options and create two responses using any medium (no restrictions).
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?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.