Graduate Programs

At RISD we offer two graduate degrees in Jewelry + Metalsmithing—a two-year MFA and a one-year post-baccalaureate degree. These programs cultivate individual excellence by emphasizing rigorous research, material experimentation and creative practice.

MFA curriculum

Our two-year MFA program cultivates individual excellence by emphasizing rigorous research, material experimentation and creative practice. In it you produce meaningful work by questioning and investigating the forces that motivate you and by engaging in critical discourse with our creative community—both within and beyond the department.

As an important supplement to studio classes, graduate seminars address issues of the field, along with broader concerns in contemporary art. Structured around readings, presentations and field trips, the resulting discourse creates a bridge between theoretical concerns and hands-on making.

View the master’s curriculum

MFA learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • be conversant with research precedents and conditions to establish premises for original work.
  • articulate and defend the positioning of original work in light of historical, theoretical and conceptual influences.
  • understand the distinctions between and benefits of visual and verbal modes of communication in studio practice by both creating and describing original work.
  • situate one's work in contemporary contexts and advance the broader conversation in the field.

Thesis project

In the final semester, degree candidates focus on creating a comprehensive body of work under the guidance of a thesis committee. All MFA candidates produce a written thesis and participate in an annual graduate thesis exhibition of work by students graduating from RISD's advanced degree programs.

Post-baccalaureate program

The one-year post-baccalaureate program provides individualized instruction in jewelry making and metalsmithing. Essentially a one-year tutorial, it meets you at your experience level in the technical, conceptual and theoretical concerns of the discipline.

Following a portfolio review, you take courses across the full range of undergraduate and graduate studios and seminars in J+M, according to your specific needs and interests. With full access to and use of the department’s studio spaces and facilities, studeyouts gain valuable knowledge and experience either in preparation for graduate study or in support of professional studio practice. (See below for a sample curriculum.)

View sample post-baccalaureate curriculum

Post-baccalaureate learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • understand how the history of adornment influences contemporary movements in jewelry.
  • gain a greater awareness of current topics specific to the discipline, such as value of materials, authorship, audience and personal identity.
  • move an original idea from conception to realization through well-crafted work.
  • articulate personal concepts and show creative development through a strong portfolio of work.
  • develop the competence and confidence to pursue a well-informed practice as a jewelry designer, either through an established studio or working independently.
  • demonstrate the technical and theoretical background necessary to pursue an advanced degree in the field.

Inspiring community

With its small size and high ratio of faculty to students, J+M offers focused, individual attention to about a dozen graduate students as they define their methodologies, delve into research areas of their own choosing and explore the intersections between art, craft and design. Graduate students inspire each other and also benefit from the wide range of visiting artists, critics and practicing professionals from around the world who come to campus to offer critical input.

Learning environment

Both graduate and undergraduate students (approximately 30) work with high-end equipment in the department's specialized facilities. In addition, you are assigned a workbench with a torch, ventilation and storage. While you do much of your work individually, you also engage in dialogue with and receive feedback from faculty and peers.

By taking risks you advance your creative practice and locate your work within a larger contemporary context. In short, you learn to open up new, uncharted territory in the field and demonstrate a high level of technical fluency.