BFA | 4-year program

The undergraduate program in J+M 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.

Curriculum

Sophomores enter the program after RISD's required year of 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 & 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
Sophomore Jewelry I + II
Sophomore Metalsmithing: Sophomore Smithing + Jewelry
Sophomore History of Adornment
Liberal Arts electives
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Sophomore Jewelry I + II
Sophomore Metalsmithing: Sophomore Smithing + Jewelry
Sophomore Jewelry Design: Technology and Making
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
Junior Seminar
From CAD to CAM
Metal Forming and Casting
Liberal Arts or Non-major Studio electives
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Junior Jewelry I
Digital 3D Modeling and Rendering
Color as Content
Liberal Arts or Non-major Studio electives

Senior

Fall
Senior Studio I
Senior Seminar
Professional Practices
Liberal Arts or Non-major Studio electives
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. 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.

    TOEFL or IELTS

    All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Since proficiency in English is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants must attain an acceptable score on either test; RISD requires a minimum result of 93 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on IELTS. Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take six weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD.

    RISD’s institution code number is 3726.

  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 Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies 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