Master’s Program

In our two-year Photography MFA program, you hone visual and critical expertise through course work, seminars, independent studio work and critiques. Together these provide a deep understanding of contemporary art practices and criticism.


Working in your own studio space, you enjoy access to state-of-the-art technical facilities that allow you to explore film-based and digital photography, digital video and multimedia production.

As you create a coherent body of visual work that shows a sustained and sophisticated investigation of ideas, you also learn to write and speak about your work fluently and and frame your practice in historical and critical contexts.

View the curriculum

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • state and achieve individual goals for their work.
  • deliver technically proficient work.
  • develop a cohesive body of work.
  • speak and write about their work with a high degree of clarity.
  • contextualize their work in contemporary practice.
  • demonstrate professionalism though teaching, gallery exhibition, photography assistantship, and/or managing a studio practice.

Inspiring community

While learning from fellow students in RISD's many discipline-based programs, MFA candidates in Photography work closely with accomplished faculty who hold a passion both for teaching and their own studio work. Collectively, they provide students with a wealth of visual, intellectual and technical expertise.

In addition, nationally recognized artists, curators, critics and gallery directors regularly visit to critique student work and/or present as part of the department's T.C. Colley Lecture Series.

Learning environment

Approximately 15 Photography graduate students share state-of-the-art technical facilities with roughly 30 undergraduates, but also enjoy exclusive access to a large-format printer and studio space in the Fletcher Building, part of RISD's downtown Providence graduate center complex. Studios provide a place to work, meet with guest artists and curators, and interact with graduate students from other disciplines.

Students interested in teaching do so in their second year. You also have opportunities to exhibit work and/or curate shows through the Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery, the RISD Museum's Gelman Gallery and the department's own Red Eye Gallery.

Thesis project

In the final semester, MFA candidates focus on creating a comprehensive body of work under the guidance of a thesis committee. This included producing a thesis book comprised of a written narrative and a body of visual work.

You also participate in an annual graduate thesis exhibition of work by students graduating from RISD's advanced degree programs.