BFA | 4-year program

Interior Studies majors - as the undergraduate program is known - choose among three specializations or "pathways" through advanced design studios, focusing on design for the theater, exhibition design or retail design. Throughout the program, professors offer hands-on opportunities to learn about practices in the construction industry and beyond, helping each individual to grow creatively and become a socially and environmentally responsible professional.

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 37 undergraduates and 78 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."

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 & 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
Introduction to Interior Studies
Drawing for Interior Architecture
Building Materials Exploration
History of Interior Architecture I
Wintersession
Open elective
Spring
Introduction to Interior Studies II
Introduction to Computing for Interior Architecture
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

Degree project

The final year in Interior Architecture allows for continued development through advanced work, including a course in human factors. Seniors complete a Degree Project meant to synthesize key concepts learned and demonstrate expertise in a chosen area of specialization.

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

    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 Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass 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