• MFA | 2-year program

    The MFA program supports artists engaged in rigorous interdisciplinary practices through an emphasis on visual and critical literacy. The Sculpture curriculum foregrounds studio praxis, generous group conversation, lectures and meetings with visiting artists, and studio electives to enhance each artist’s skills and methods of making. This approach fosters a tight-knit student cohort encouraged to regard each other as lifelong friends and colleagues. We consciously develop critical discourse and interdisciplinary research modalities that actively support varied ways of working and thinking. Students in Sculpture have access to advanced technologies and are encouraged to pursue social and alternative practices.

  • Learning outcomes

    Graduates are prepared to:

    • express an understanding of contemporary visual art

    • demonstrate the intention, motivation and skills required to pursue and sustain a career as an artist

    • articulate the conceptual framework that informs individual pieces, collections and overall practice

    • contextualize one’s practice within the diverse landscape of global contemporary art practice

    • demonstrate knowledge of intersectional discourse and methods of making

    • understand how to ethically practice within the framework of community engagement

    • write syllabi, formulate a teaching philosophy and think through pedagogical hurdles

    • support, cultivate and participate in high-level intellectual and academic discourse

    • articulate studio and conceptual concerns in writing that makes critical connections between individual works and practices and the larger contexts that inform them

    • demonstrate the ability to acquire new technical and conceptual skill sets through self-education

  • Inspiring community

    The MFA program brings together a vibrant community of faculty and students with broad-ranging interdisciplinary interests that include, but are not limited to: advanced technologies, robotics, science fiction, fabrication, performance, object oriented ontology, queer theory, critical race theory, cinema and dance. Visiting artists and critics, along with an active community of peers, expose students to a wide spectrum of skills, philosophies and professional experiences. Core faculty act as mentors who are committed to open engagement with each individual student and to fostering a supportive ethos among the group. The department’s visiting artist program series brings outside professionals to campus each semester for lectures, studio visits and critiques. Graduate students also benefit from frequent one-on-one meetings with core faculty and small-group discussions with other students.

  • Learning environment

    Graduate students have 24-hour access to private and semi-private studios in RISD’s Fletcher Building, a facility designed to promote interdisciplinary discourse with grad students in other fine arts programs. The building also offers critique spaces, a woodshop and a computer area for shared use, and is home to Co-Works, RISD’s digital prototyping laboratory. Additionally, students in the MFA program have access to the facilities in the Metcalf Building, where two full-time technicians maintain the newly expanded woodshop, extensive metal shop and a state-of-the-art foundry that supports bronze and aluminum pouring, was-working, patina, and rubber mold making. Relevant electives are available across the full spectrum of RISD disciplines, as well as at Brown University. RISD’s proximity to Boston and New York affords ready access to museums, galleries and practicing professionals.

  • Heather Rowe | graduate program director

    “Sculpture is a discipline of agency and exploration – and one of particular vitality. It can be both specific in material and ambitious in its reach across boundaries and disciplines. The RISD grad program creates an open and rigorous environment in which students can develop as artists and see that pursuit flourish in the long term. Sculpture grads are encouraged to take risks and experience new ways of working through ongoing dialogue with their faculty and peers, along with visiting artists and the larger RISD community.”

  • Curriculum

    MFA candidates engage in two years of intensive individual research and creative activity in residence at RISD. During the second year, graduate students are invited to teach a course that they conceive and develop themselves – usually during the six-week Wintersession.

    MFA first year

    • Fall
    • Advanced Critical Issues Seminar I
    • Graduate Sculpture Studio I
    • Studio or seminar elective
    • Wintersession
    • Studio or seminar elective
    • Spring
    • Advanced Critical Issues Seminar II
    • Graduate Sculpture Studio II
    • Studio or seminar elective

    MFA second year

    • Fall
    • Graduate Sculpture Studio III
    • Studio elective
    • Seminar elective
    • Wintersession
    • Studio or seminar elective
    • Spring
    • Graduate Sculpture Thesis Project
    • Studio or seminar elective

  • Thesis project

    In the final semester, MFA candidates focus on creating a comprehensive body of work under the guidance of a thesis committee. All Sculpture grad students produce a written thesis and participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held annually.

  • Application requirements

    1. application form + fee
    2. academic transcripts
    3. 3 letters of recommendation
    4. portfolio of work
    5. statement of purpose (500–750 words) outlining your interest and goals in pursuing graduate study
    6. TOEFL scores (for non-native English speakers)
      • The faculty selection committee in Sculpture looks for evidence of the ability and preparedness to undertake graduate-level work. Portfolios should be professionally presented using the highest quality representation of work showing the breadth and depth of artistic and creative thinking capabilities.
      • For more information or to begin the application process, visit the Apply page.