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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.

Learning outcomes

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


Inspiring community

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.

Learning environment

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.

Curriculum

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.

Foundation year

Fall
Drawing I
Design I
Spatial Dynamics I
First-year Literature Seminar
Theory and History of Art and Design I: Global Modernisms
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
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

Sophomore

Fall
Glass Studio 1A
Beginning Glassworking
Glass Coldworking
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Glass Studio 1B
Glass Casting—Moldmaking
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
Glass Studio 2A
Glass Degree Program Workshop 2A
Intermediate Glassblowing
Open electives
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Glass Studio 2B
Glass Degree Program Workshop 2B
History of Glass
Open electives

Senior

Fall
Glass Studio 3A
Glass Degree Program Workshop 3A
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Glass Degree Program Workshop 3B
Glass Degree Project 3B
Liberal Arts elective

Thesis project

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.

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.

    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.

  4. Portfolio

    Your portfolio should present 12–20 examples of your most recent work that showcases your thinking and making. You will upload your portfolio in SlideRoom through the Common Application, where you will begin the application process.

    Your selected work should reflect a full range of your ideas, curiosity, experimentation and experience in creating and making. 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 strongly recommend that you include some examples that involve drawing from direct observation (rather than from imagination or a photograph). Drawing is a fundamental tool for visual makers from initial concept to execution, so it is valuable for reviewers to see examples of your experience with and approach to drawing.

    While the majority of your portfolio should feature finished pieces, we suggest including some research or preparatory work in up to three—but no more than three—portfolio selections. This helps reviewers better understand how you develop your ideas.

    Finally, we strongly discourage including excessive visual elements and text descriptions in a single slide submission. These are difficult to view and are likely to exceed the allowed file limit. Additional angles or detail shots of some works can either be submitted as an individual image or video upload, or you can upload a composite including up to three images. Editing is an important part of curating your portfolio. You may need to devise creative solutions to best show your work within the limits of submission guidelines.

    Our recommended file formats are: jpeg, png, gif, mp4 and mov. These formats are most compatible with SlideRoom. Google Drive or zipped files are not recommended formats for sharing your artwork.

  5. The Assignment

    In addition to submitting your portfolio, all applicants must respond to the following assignment (your response to which will be uploaded in a specific section of SlideRoom dedicated to the assignment):

    Begin by observing a phenomenon or choosing an object in the natural world. Create a visual reaction to this object or phenomenon. You may use any medium and work at any scale. Document this work and upload it as your first response.

    Then, make a transformation to or modification of your first response. We encourage you to impose no limits to the potential nature or scale of the alteration to your first solution. Document this altered work and upload it as your second response.

  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.