MAT | 1-year program
The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is an intensive, one-year (summer through spring) cohort teacher preparation program for artists and designers eligible to work in the US that culminates in recommendation for teacher certification in art in US-based pK–12 schools. RISD’s MAT program is approved by the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a teacher preparation program and, as a result of the Interstate Compact, has reciprocity in at least 44 other states.
It is, however, important for applicants to understand that while RISD awards the MAT degree and recommends its graduates for certification or licensure, the award of teacher certification is determined by individual states, each of which has its own specific requirements. In other words, candidates must pass any teacher-certification test(s) required by individual states.
The MAT program is accredited by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). RIDE's Rhode Island Educator Preparation Index provides a summary of data related to RISD's MAT program, including the total number per year of people who have completed the program, the total number of those who have secured teacher certification in Rhode Island and who are employed in the state.
Title II federal reporting requires all teacher preparation programs to publish its program completion data as well the pass rate of its completers in the following state-required PRAXIS tests: Art: Content Knowledge and either Principles of Learning and Teaching (K–6) or Principles of Learning and Teaching (7–12).
Institutional pass rate
- Lifespan: Human Growth and Development
- Design Education Workshop I
- Curriculum Development for Secondary Visual Arts Learning
- Curriculum Development for Elementary Visual Arts Learning
- Lifespan: Exceptionality
- Context, Content, and Practices in Art + Design Education
- Design Education Workshop II
- Studio or Liberal Arts elective
- Student Teaching in Elementary School
- Student Teaching in Secondary School
- Degree Project
MA | 1-year program
The Master of Arts (MA) in Art + Design Education is a one-year (fall through spring) program for individuals seeking an advanced academic credential that furthers professional careers at the intersection of art, design and education. Through an individually designed sequence of courses, internships and independent study, the MA in Art + Design Education promotes rigorous inquiry coupled with an expansive breadth of discovery. Using RISD as an essential base, MA candidates customize their studies within our vibrant community, working in tandem with offerings at neighboring Brown University and in Providence’s diverse range of nonprofit cultural and educational institutions.
- Critical Investigations in Arts Learning
- Mapping for Visual Learning
- Colloquium: Contemporary Practices in Arts Learning
- Thesis Research
Graduates of the MAT program are required to:
- draw from their creative practice as artist and designers—along with their grounding in inquiry-based curriculum design—to inform, develop and implement high-quality pK–12 visual arts curricula
- provide multiple forms of evidence of performance that meet or exceed Rhode Island Professional Teaching Standards (RIPTS)
- meet or exceed the passing score on the state-mandated Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) test
- meet or exceed the passing score on the state-mandated Art Content Knowledge test
Graduates of the MA program are prepared to:
- articulate key issues, trends and research questions emanating from diverse visual arts/art and design learning contexts, including at K-12 schools (both during and after school hours), colleges and universities, cultural institutions and community-based organizations
- display competence in inquiry-based teaching and learning
- construct high-quality visual arts/art and design learning experiences for diverse formal and informal educational contexts
- display competence in researching, writing and presenting a personal investigation in visual arts/art and design teaching and learning that provides a platform for future professional practice and advocacy
At RISD prospective educators craft the foundations of their pedagogical practice within a vibrant community of artists, designers and scholars. Each year approximately 20–24 degree candidates work closely with TLAD faculty, professionals in the field at partner organizations and a range of visiting lecturers. When the time comes, faculty take particular pride in helping each degree candidate with a job search, which has led to an extremely high placement rate and greater job satisfaction for graduates.
Our experiential learning environment supports strong connections between graduate students and faculty who value studio-based learning and recognize the unique power of art and design in a changing society. In the MAT program, theoretical concepts are interwoven with scaffolded practical experiences—providing students with opportunities to test out ideas in authentic learning environments throughout the year. MA candidates work with a faculty adviser to co-construct individual programs of study utilizing an array of offerings centered at RISD and radiating out to the learning community at Brown University and the city of Providence-known as "the cultural capital." In short, TLAD candidates appreciate the flexibility of the program and the ability to tap into enormous expertise while making choices about their own education.
Certificate in Collegiate Teaching
The Certificate in Collegiate Teaching in Art and Design (CTAD) offers graduate students from all disciplines an opportunity for focused study in the area of collegiate-level studio pedagogy. Benefitting from access to the vitality and pedagogical practices of RISD faculty, students participating in the six-credit program learn models of teaching that aid them in creating a personal teaching philosophy and acquiring important skills for their development as future faculty in art and design and related disciplines. In addition, students who also serve as instructors or co-instructors of Wintersession courses earn certificates that officially acknowledge the classroom experience they acquire here.
To earn the CTAD without teaching during Wintersession, students take the following courses offered by the TLAD department:
- Collegiate Teaching: Preparation and Reflection (three credits, offered in the fall)
- Collegiate Studio: Discipline-centered Learning (three credits, offered in the spring)
To earn a certificate conferred with teaching experience, students need to fulfill the following requirements:
- Complete either Collegiate Teaching: Preparation and Reflection or Collegiate Studio: Discipline-centered Learning (three credits)
- Complete the Collegiate Teaching Practicum (a three-credit Graduate Commons course offered in Wintersession)
- Serve as instructor or co-instructor of record of a Wintersession course
In addition, all students in the certificate program must attend a minimum of two lectures in the Forum in Collegiate Teaching series prior to their final semester at RISD.
Project Open Door
For over 10 years, TLAD has been fine-tuning Project Open Door—a pioneering program launched in 2005 to mentor underserved urban teens with a passion for art and help them prepare for and apply to college. TLAD graduate students and others from the RISD community have a unique opportunity get involved in what is essentially a non-profit youth-based program housed in a college's academic department and established to literally envelop interested public high school students with intensive mentoring and other helpful resources at RISD.
Submit your RISD application form, and all other credentials, through the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60. Applications for 2021–22 are coming soon.
Initially, you must provide unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate and/or graduate study indicating satisfactory completion, or evidence of anticipated completion, of an undergraduate degree program from an accredited college or university. You can upload your unofficial transcripts within the RISD Applicant Portal. If your academic credentials are prepared in a language other than English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator before submitting. Enrolling students will later be required to submit official transcripts.
Graduate applicants to studio programs are required to submit 10–20 examples of visual work, with certain programs suggesting more specific ideas or portfolio requirements.
Use SlideRoom to submit your graduate portfolio here.
Specific program instructions:
Digital + Media | Your portfolio should contain 10 samples total, which can be a combination of images and videos. You may submit up to 5 videos, with a total run time of no more than five minutes for all videos combined. Please do not submit multi-page PDF files. Each sample should be accompanied by text identifying the medium and year, and a four-sentence description explaining the concepts that inform your work and is no more than 50 words. If collaborative projects are presented, you must clearly identify your individual contribution.
Furniture Design | In the MFA programs, students make their own work as part of learning from, and with, materials. This applies to tests and models as well as to full-size objects at human scale. Material experimentation includes traditional, new and hybrid materials as appropriate to individual student interests.
In addition to your portfolio materials uploaded to Slideroom, we invite you to include a self-made video no more than 20 seconds duration of you making something. We are not looking for video with professional production values; we are interested in seeing you making something – small, large, modest or complex, any making action can work, the choice is yours. This is an option you might enjoy adding to your submission for us to learn more about your interests. Finally, please title your video.
Jewelry + Metalsmithing | The rigorous studio-based orientation of the graduate program leverages traditional skills and fabrication techniques to critically approach new territories and ways of making.
In addition to your portfolio materials uploaded to SlideRoom, we invite you to include a self-made video no more than 20 seconds duration of you making something. We are not looking for video with professional production values; we are interested in seeing you making something – small, large, modest or complex, any making action can work, the choice is yours. This is an option you might enjoy adding to your submission for us to learn more about your interests. Finally, please title your video.
Landscape Architecture | All applicants to the Master's of Landscape Architecture degree programs are required to submit a portfolio and an additional video essay. Your portfolio should contain 10 individually produced and carefully chosen images of work that reflects your interests in landscape and the discipline of landscape architecture. Applicants to the MLA-1 program who have no prior design training may include photographs, sketches or written work that conveys their ability to observe, identify and explore spatial conditions within the landscape. All other applicants should include a selection of work that best represents the development of their interest in this field of study. All work should be labeled to indicate if it is academic, professional or personal. If team projects are presented, your individual contribution must be clearly identified. The portfolio should include a minimal amount of text.
Prepare a short video of yourself telling us:
- The most important reason you are motivated to study landscape architecture
- At least one goal you hope to achieve in your graduate education
- Why you think RISD is the best place to achieve your goals
You are encouraged to be authentic and heartfelt in your response. This essay will function as the beginning of a conversation you will continue to have if you enter the program at RISD and it does not have to be the same information provided in your written essay. Cell phone videos are accepted as well. Maximum length: 2 minutes.
Master of Arts in Teaching | MAT | Your portfolio should consist of 20 images exhibiting the depth and breadth of your studio experience. Ten images should represent work that reflects your investigations within a single medium; seven images should represent your confidence in handling a variety of media; and three images need to be samples of drawings.
Master of Arts in Art + Design Education | MA | Submit a portfolio of 20 images that most clearly represent your creative practice as an artist or designer.
Statement of purpose
Graduate applicants must submit a written statement (500–750 words) outlining their interest and goals in pursuing graduate study. Several programs suggest more specific ideas or written requirements as outlined below.
Specific program instructions:
Digital + Media | Within the statement of purpose, the committee seeks a clear explanation of the applicant’s goals for both their time in school and afterwards, and how the MFA in Digital + Media is specifically suited to support these goals. This statement should address the following questions: what are you interested in exploring conceptually? What outcomes do you hope to get from the degree? Where do you see yourself after graduation? In addition to the statement of purpose, applicants should outline their working methodology or practice from initial research to project realization.
Global Arts and Cultures | Applicants to the master’s program in Global Arts and Cultures must submit an academic statement of purpose of 1,000–2,000 words. The object of your statement is to introduce yourself to the Admissions Committee as a thinker, scholar and writer, and you should address in detail your intellectual interests and proposed topic(s) of graduate study. Be as specific as possible in describing your prior college-level experience in areas encompassed by Global Arts and Cultures and how this work has contributed to your professional and personal goals in pursuing a master’s degree. Your statement should also reflect your understanding of the contours and demands of graduate study in Global Arts and Cultures at RISD.
Landscape Architecture | Your essay should describe how your interest in landscape developed, how the work in your portfolio is indicative of that development and why the landscape architecture program at RISD seems well suited to your goals.
Master of Arts in Teaching | MAT | Submit a statement (500–700 words) describing your work as an artist or designer. What is it about? How do you feel your academic, studio or work experience prepares you for entry to a graduate teacher education program? Discuss how, in your opinion, the quality of an educator’s artistic practice contributes to high-quality arts learning for children and youth. Since the significance of arts education in K–12 schools is not universally recognized, please provide a succinct argument for including the visual arts as a required core subject for all students at this level.
Master of Arts in Art + Design Education | MA | Submit a written statement (500-750 words) describing your interest in pursuing the MA. Identify two questions or issues related to art and design education that pique your interest and which might have the potential to become topics for your MA thesis research. Describe how you might customize a program of study that maximizes the resources of RISD, Brown and the city in support of your particular interests in art and design education. In what ways do you, at this time, anticipate that earning an MA will advance your professional development and career aspirations?
Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies | Applicants to the master’s in Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies must submit an academic statement of purpose of 1,000–2,000 words. The object of your statement is to introduce yourself to the Admissions Committee as a thinker, scholar and writer, and you should address in detail your intellectual interests and proposed topic(s) of graduate study. You should be as specific as possible in describing your prior college-level experience in the areas of Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies and how this work has contributed to your professional and personal goals in pursuing a master’s degree. Your statement should also reflect your understanding of the contours and demands of graduate study in Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies at RISD.
Photography | In addition to a statement of purpose, applicants should send an artist’s statement describing the work included in their portfolio. In other words, the artist’s statement should be about the work submitted, while the statement of purpose should address why you are seeking a graduate degree.
Applicants to the MA programs in Global Arts and Cultures and Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies are required to submit an example of critical and/or analytical writing. See below for all program-specific instructions.
Global Arts and Cultures | Applicants are required to submit a writing sample that represents your strongest critical and/or analytical writing on a topic clearly related to Global Arts and Cultures. Please indicated if your writing sample is excerpted from a longer work. If it is, please make sure it forms a coherent argument and is framed such that the Admissions Committee understands its function as part of a longer work.
Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies | Applicants are required to submit a writing sample that represents your strongest critical and/or analytical writing on a topic clearly related to Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies. Please indicated if your writing sample is excerpted from a longer work. If it is, please make sure it forms a coherent argument and is framed such that the Admissions Committee understands its function as part of a longer work.
Letters of recommendation
Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. 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 for graduate study. You may invite your recommenders to upload their letters through your Applicant Portal. If your recommenders are unable to submit using this method, their letters may be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to the Graduate Admissions Office.
English language proficiency test
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.
Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
Results from the Graduate Record Examination are not required as part of the application process.
Special instructions for MAT program applicants
- A four-year undergraduate degree (BFA or BA with studio major) with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 from an accredited college or university
- A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 in the studio coursework
- If applicant completed master’s degree, must show evidence of meeting these same cumulative GPA requirements
- A minimum of 39 credit hours in the following domains: literacy (12 credits), history of art and design (12 credits), humanities/sciences (9 credits) and 2 courses (6 credits) from any of the domains
- Since the MAT program prepares candidates to earn art teacher certification for pK–12 schools in the US, enrollment is restricted to American citizens and permanent residents who hold a green card
Please note: In order to fulfill degree requirements, MAT students are required to complete practicum and student teaching assignments in K–12 public schools at various points in the program. This will entail undergoing and successfully meeting the standards (or requirements) of one or more state or national background checks. Candidates who have any questions about this process may contact the Teaching + Learning in Art + Design department.