Master’s Program

Emphasizing visual and critical literacy, the Sculpture MFA program gives you support to develop a rigorous interdisciplinary practice. The curriculum foregrounds studio praxis, generous group conversation, lectures and meetings with visiting artists, and studio electives that enhance your skills and methods of making. Through this approach, you and your fellow degree candidates form a lifelong creative community.


The Sculpture program curriculum supports your participation in critical discourse and the development of interdisciplinary research modes that actively support varied ways of working and thinking. Here you also have access to advanced technologies, and we encourage you to pursue social and alternative practices.

MFA candidates engage in two years of intensive individual research and creative activity while at RISD. During the spring of the first year, you may also propose a self-designed course, with the possibility of teaching it during the five-week Wintersession.

View the curriculum

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 faculty and students with broad-ranging 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 you to a wide spectrum of skills, philosophies and professional experiences.

Core faculty act as mentors who openly engage with each student and foster a supportive ethos among students. The department’s visiting artist program series brings outside professionals to campus each semester for lectures, studio visits and critiques. You 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, also home to grad students in several other fine arts departments. It offers critique spaces, a woodshop and a computer area for shared use, and is home to Co-Works, RISD’s interdisciplinary research lab.

Sculpture MFA students also enjoy access to the Metcalf Building, home to an expansive woodshop and metal shop, and a state-of-the-art foundry that supports bronze and aluminum pouring, waxworking, patina, and rubber mold making. You can also take relevant electives 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.

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