Learning to develop and hone strong research practices is central to the graduate experience at RISD, which also offers opportunities to teach for those with an interest in doing so. As public intellectuals and future creative leaders, graduate students advance art and design research and create new knowledge—through both their own thesis work and faculty-mentored and -guided projects.

Research assistantships

As GS | Research Assistants, selected students participate in faculty-guided or -directed research projects. Assistantships provide compensation, but are also meaningful educational experiences that enable graduate students to contribute to the creation of new knowledge. Students typically work with an individual or groups of full- or part-time faculty members.

Recent GS | Research Assistants have worked on a wide range of projects, including:

• helping to develop an innovative web-based CAD platform to simplify digital weaving
• exploring a bio-molecular sensor system to detect arsenic in drinking water
• researching recipes and techniques for iridescent glazes used during the Art Nouveau period
• experimenting with the use of photovoltaic fabric to further clean, renewable energy technology
• conducting summer field studies to track climate change

Teaching assistantships

Graduate students interested in teaching and pedagogy find many opportunities to begin developing a teaching practice while at RISD. In addition to offerings through the department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design, RISD offers electives, workshops and lectures focused on collegiate teaching.

Students may work as teaching assistants in their major departments and in Liberal Arts, and during Wintersession—an intensive, five-week period between fall and spring semester—some opt to propose and teach courses of their own design with the support of a faculty mentor.

Graduate-level research and teaching is supported through assistantships, grants and other professional development opportunities.

Grants in support of new work

Open to all current graduate students in good academic standing, the GS | Grants program offers funding of between $3,000 and $5,000 to winning proposals for new or developing work. Unlike awards for completed work, GS | Grants reward ongoing exploration and facilitate emerging and prospective work.

For students not yet in their final year of study, these grants may provide financial support for thesis development or another body of research and production. For recipients in the final year of a degree program, a GS | Grant may offer post-graduate support at a significant time of transition.

Each year guest jurors from beyond RISD—well-known professionals within various grant categories—thoroughly review proposals in order to select recipients. Proposals are reviewed once a year and students may apply individually or in collaboration with other graduate students.

Graduate student conference fund

Since RISD began offering support for participation in academic and professional conferences worldwide, graduate students have been making great connections at such significant events as Design Indaba in South Africa, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in NYC, the National Art Education Association (NAEA) annual convention, NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) conferences, Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan and American Institute of Architects conferences, among other professional gatherings.

Students who receive support through the GS | Conference Fund are enrolled full-time, in good academic standing and have a confirmed invitation to present work publicly at the event in question. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but students are eligible to receive conference fund support no more than once each academic year.


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