BFA in Interior Studies: Adaptive Reuse | 4-year program

In the Interior Studies: Adaptive Reuse BFA program, majors receive an exceptional education in spatial design as it relates to the built environment. Students complete 126 credit hours of coursework in Interior Architecture, studio electives and Liberal Arts classes across three departments: History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences, Literary Arts and Studies, and Theory and History of Art and Design.

In developing design strategies across a range of work, students learn how to investigate and make interior interventions in various forms, while recognizing the importance of social and environmental responsibility within the discipline. Graduates of the program earn a strong academic foundation that uniquely prepares them for graduate studies and professional design practice.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • evaluate their own individual talents, interests and aptitudes to determine a suitable career path.
  • navigate a collaborative work environment in order to investigate aspects of interior interventions through conceptual thinking and critical making.
  • develop design strategies that recognize the importance of social and environmental responsibility.
  • understand design principles and the tools for implementing them to develop meaningful and coherent design propositions.
  • recognize the importance of context in the transformation of space and acknowledge its implications in the formulation of design concepts.
  • articulate design concepts and implement interventions based on the transformation of existing structures.
  • communicate design ideas through drawings, projections and both physical and digital models.
  • engage with interior interventions in the field and apply this knowledge in design projects of varying scales.

Inspiring community

Approximately 100 combined undergraduate and graduate students from around the world work together in the Angelo Donghia Studio for Interior Architecture on the fifth floor of RISD's Center for Integrative Technologies. Students come from around the world and work with more than 25 full- and part-time faculty members who practice internationally and were educated in Germany, Portugal, Canada, the US and elsewhere. This lends the department a very global, cosmopolitan feel and allows for especially fruitful collaborations and critical exchange.

Learning environment

Interior Architecture professors share a commitment to sustainability and a belief that their profession has a role to play in bettering the lives of people from all economic backgrounds. Having long volunteered at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, Professor Liliane Wong has incorporated her interest in affordable housing into studios on sustainable modular solutions and on designing and building site-specific furnishings for transitional shelters in Boston. Why focus on projects like these instead of more typical private residences? "We want students to see that design has a wide spectrum and can be used as a tool in a larger human context," she says —"that it's not just for people who can afford to pay for it."

Undergraduate student work

Curriculum

In the first year of the program, which begins after students complete RISD's required year of Foundation Studies, sophomores take introductory courses that cover the ideas and vocabulary of Interior Architecture and provide the basis for subsequent studios. Juniors further explore the field through advanced studios, supplemented by a broad range of technical, theoretical and historical courses.

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
Introduction to Interior Studies
Drawing for Interior Architecture
Building Materials
History of Interior Architecture I
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Introduction to Interior Studies II
Digital Representation and Visual Narrative
History of Interior Architecture II
Open elective

Junior

Fall
Introduction to Interior Studies III
Human Factors
Building Structures and Systems for Adaptive Reuse
Open elective
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Spatial Perception: Light and Color
Advanced Design Studio
Open electives

Senior

Fall
Advanced Design Studio
Scheme Detailing
Open elective
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Advanced Design Studio
Final Studio Project Seminar
Open electives

Application requirements

  1. First-year applicants

    You’ll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the Common Application. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $60 to use this service, plus a nonrefundable $10 fee to submit a required online portfolio via SlideRoom. Learn more about the first-year application here.

    Transfer applicants

    Submit your RISD application form, and all other credentials, through the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60, plus a nonrefundable $10 fee to submit a required online portfolio via SlideRoom. Learn more about the transfer application here.

  2. First-year applicants

    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.

    Transcripts can be submitted by school officials through Parchment, eTranscript, email or mail. 

    Transfer applicants

    Applicants must provide official transcripts covering at least the last three full years of academic work completed. This should include all college transcripts and, if applicable, your secondary school transcript. If you attend a school where the language of instruction is not English, your academic credentials must be translated into English by an approved translator.

    Transcripts can be submitted by school officials through Parchment, eTranscript, email or mail. 

  3. Test-Optional, SAT and ACT

    RISD is offering all applicants (domestic and international) the ability to be reviewed without submitting results from the SAT or ACT. Students may opt into this process by selecting the test-optional option under the "Testing" portion within the RISD section of the Common Application. For students who choose to submit test scores, RISD will superscore your results, looking at your highest outcome across multiple test dates.

    RISD’s institution code number for the SAT is 3726; for ACT the code number is 003812.

    Transfer credits

    Some Advanced Placement (AP), A-Level classes and International Baccalaureate (IB) credits can be used toward RISD liberal arts requirements. First-year students can transfer a maximum of nine credits from AP courses with a score of 4 or 5, A-Level classes with an earned grade of C or higher or Higher Level IB scores of 5, 6, or 7. RISD will not accept AP or IB credit from art or studio classes. View RISD's full transfer credit policy.

    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 English proficiency is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants are required to meet a minimum score of at least 93 on the TOEFL, a 6.5 on the IELTS, or 115 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 email the Admissions Office at admissions@risd.edu to explain your school history and determine if you are eligible for a waiver.

  4. Portfolio Submission

    Your portfolio should present 12–20 examples of your most recent work that showcases your thinking and making. Once you've started your application to RISD in the Common Application, you will be directed to SlideRoom, a separate online platform, where you will upload your portfolio.

    What to include

    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, a photograph, or video). 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 uploads/slides. This helps reviewers better understand how you develop your ideas.

    Documentation

    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 submission limit. Additional angles or detail shots of some works can be submitted across multiple slide submissions, combined into one composite including no more than 3 images or in a single video upload. 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 discouraged.

    You may be interested in attending or watching the recording of one of our Portfolio Tips webinars for more advice on how to approach your RISD application portfolio. 

    The RISD Assignment is no longer part of the application

    After extensive research and discussion, it has become evident that requiring the RISD Assignment functions as a barrier for applicants and is in direct conflict with RISD’s Social Equity and Inclusion action plan. To provide more access and equity in our admissions process, we have made the decision to remove the RISD Assignment as an application requirement beginning with the 2022/23 application cycle. We will continue to prioritize the portfolio when evaluating the visual component of an applicant’s candidacy.

  5. First-year applicants

    If you are applying as a first-year, RISD requires the Common Application Personal Essay (up to 650 words). You will find the writing prompts in the Writing 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 your essay.

    Transfer applicants

    Submit a written statement, up to 650 words, using the prompt indicated below. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

    • Provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve by joining us at RISD.

    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 dynamic position in the samples you submit.

  6. Letters of recommendation can be very helpful to your application. One letter is required, 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.

    First-year applicants

    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.

    Transfer applicants

    Please have your recommendation writers submit their letters directly to admissions@risd.edu. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below).