Master’s Program

As an MFA candidate in Textiles, you build on solid technical skills and a proficient design process, engage in individual research, and develop a personal vision and understanding of design as an expression of a continually evolving culture.


The two-year MFA in Textiles focuses on the woven, knit and print design of fabrics used for apparel and interior design applications. Geared towards those with a background in textiles and academic and/or professional experience in visual studies, the curriculum helps you broaden and sharpen your skills, hone your artistic identity and become well versed in the technical and creative potential of the medium. The program also emphasizes studies in drawing and color—along with participation in graduate seminars—as a means of building analytical and critical thinking skills.

The first year enriches your creative background and helps you expand your skills, including the use of digital technology in design. The second year allows for more individual exploration of weaving, knitting or surface design, with the final semester culminating in a thesis project that entails both studio work and writing.

View the curriculum

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • implement the design process through the framing of content and context.
  • articulate the purpose and context for a finished work and how these may inform decisions in the process of creating it.
  • recognize the potential of textile materials, techniques and processes to articulate ambitious ideas.
  • display analytical and critical thinking/reasoning skills to support the development of one's work, as well as the work of others, and in order to engage in rigorous discourse related to historical and contemporary issues that influence the art and design fields.
  • exhibit strong visual and material competency, including an understanding of color, pattern, structure and materiality as they relate to the creation of two- and three-dimensional work.
  • demonstrate excellence in craftsmanship by creating wovens, knits and other material forms that are well considered, made and resolved.
  • demonstrate confidence and proficiency in the field, with emphasis on advanced equipment and processes.
  • become acquainted with scales of manufacturing and distribution.
  • recognize environmental/sustainability and social concerns related to textile processes and manufacturing.
  • articulate their role as designers in the field while demonstrating broad historical and theoretical awareness of textiles and its larger cultural and economic contexts, along with how it intersects with other disciplines.
  • explain the current field in the context of art, architecture, design and technology.
  • identify where the work will sit in the world.

Inspiring community

Textiles majors at RISD form a strong and supportive community, with approximately a dozen graduate students working closely with more than 80 undergraduates and interacting with RISD's other 400-plus master's degree candidates.

Faculty bring a wide range of professional expertise, working closely with graduate students to help you push your capabilities and develop a strong, confident vision and direction for future work in the field.

Learning environment

Graduate students work closely with RISD's accomplished faculty, whose professional expertise ranges from digital technology to complex woven structures, including jacquard weaving. Vital connections to the profession are maintained through a required internship, seminar speakers, field trips, visiting critics and communications with experts in the field.

Specialized facilities, high-end looms and professional software accommodate advanced work, while valuable resources outside the department include an outstanding textiles collection in the RISD Museum of Art and inspiring textiles resource materials in the Fleet Library at RISD.

Thesis project

In the final semester, MFA candidates focus on creating a comprehensive body of work under the guidance of a thesis committee. All graduate students produce a written thesis and participate in an annual graduate thesis exhibition of work by students graduating from RISD's advanced degree programs.