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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 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 + 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 and Test-Optional

    Test-Optional, SAT and ACT

    Beginning with students applying for entrance in 2020, RISD is offering citizens or permanent residents of the United States the ability to be reviewed without submitting results from the SAT or ACT. Students who qualify may opt into this process by selecting this option within the RISD section of the Common Application. Students who hold citizenship from all other countries, as well as students who are homeschooled, are still required to submit test results from the SAT or ACT exams.

    For students who choose to submit test scores, RISD will superscore your results, looking at your highest outcome across multiple test dates. 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 or a 6.5 on the IELTS.

    Duolingo is changing its scoring system beginning with tests completed on July 15, 2019 and beyond. If you took this test prior to the change, we require a minimum result of 63. Applicants who completed the Duolingo test on or after July 15, 2019 must achieve a minimum score of 115, which is the equivalent of 63 in their prior scoring system.

    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

    Your portfolio should present 12–20 examples of your most recent work that showcases your thinking and making. You will upload your portfolio in SlideRoom through the Common Application, where you will begin the application process.

    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 or a photograph). 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 selections. This helps reviewers better understand how you develop your ideas.

    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 file limit. Additional angles or detail shots of some works can either be submitted as an individual image or video upload, or you can upload a composite including up to three images. 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 not recommended formats for sharing your artwork.

  5. The Assignment

    In addition to submitting your portfolio, all applicants must respond to the following assignment (your response to which will be uploaded in a specific section of SlideRoom dedicated to the assignment):

    Begin by observing a phenomenon or choosing an object in the natural world. Create a visual reaction to this object or phenomenon. You may use any medium and work at any scale. Document this work and upload it as your first response.

    Then, make a transformation to or modification of your first response. We encourage you to impose no limits to the potential nature or scale of the alteration to your first solution. Document this altered work and upload it as your second response.

  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.