BFA | 4-year program

The undergraduate program in Jewelry + Metalsmithing offers progressive levels of design complexity and technical challenges as students seek unique design solutions and learn to execute their ideas with skill and ingenuity. Professors help students to hone critical thinking and making skills through challenging assignments, selected readings, lively group discussions and by encouraging unconventional approaches that allow for expressive exploration.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • think critically by questioning, evaluating options and being aware of their own working methodologies.
  • articulate positions and defend decisions regarding materials, making processes, location of work on the body and intended audience.
  • master the varied technical processes inherent to creating original work responsive to contemporary materials and methods.
  • demonstrate a deep understanding of both traditional gold/silversmithing and contemporary jewelry making, in terms of methods, history and culture.
  • understand personal aspirations in order to work from an authentic position and establish a self-reflective practice.
  • create work that is personally expressive and responsive to evolving global values.
  • be a conscientious practitioner by sourcing materials that consider environmental sustainability and other factors.
  • develop the agility, skills, sensibilities and rigor necessary to sustain a creative practice.

Inspiring community

Approximately 35 undergraduate students working with all types of materials and techniques share studio spaces and specialized equipment in RISD's Metcalf Building. Faculty members are readily available to provide focused, individual attention both in class and as students work on their own in the studio. The dozen grad students in the department enrich the discourse, contributing to a ready exchange of ideas.

Learning environment

Throughout the program, students benefit from recurring contact with the professional world. Visiting artists from across the US, Europe and beyond offer valuable exposure to current critical analysis and artistic practices developing in the field. They also provide refreshing insight and international perspectives during critiques and individual studio visits. In addition, the department assists students in finding rewarding professional internships at selected companies or studios.

Undergraduate student work

Curriculum

Sophomores enter the program after RISD's required year of Experimental and Foundation Studies and are introduced to fundamental design principles, the history of adornment and the traditional skills of the gold/metalsmith. Students also begin to develop their own design process for jewelry. Juniors continue to refine their technical skills by delving further into a personal approach to design and content, while learning fundamental computer design skills, formal rendering techniques and the basics of enameling, casting and alternative materials usage.

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
Sophomore Jewelry I
Sophomore Metalsmithing
Sophomore History of Adornment
Liberal Arts electives
WINTERSESSION
Non-major studio elective
SPRING
Sophomore Jewelry II
Sophomore Smithing + Jewelry
Sophomore Jewelry Design: Technology and Making
Liberal Arts electives

JUNIOR

FALL
Color as Content
Digital 3D Modeling and Rendering
Metal Forming and Casting
Liberal Arts or non-major studio electives
WINTERSESSION
Non-major studio elective
SPRING
Junior Jewelry
From CAD to CAM
Junior Seminar
Liberal Arts or non-major studio electives

SENIOR

FALL
Senior Studio
Senior Jewelry
Professional Practices
Liberal Arts or non-major studio elective
WINTERSESSION
Non-major studio elective
SPRING
Senior Seminar
Degree Project
Liberal Arts or non-major studio electives

Degree project

Seniors pursue independent work that reflects a personal aesthetic and culminates in the exhibition of a final body of work. A professional practices seminar and meetings with visiting professionals help strengthen each student's portfolio.

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).