Skip to main content

BFA | 4-year program

While RISD's Textiles department has a reputation for preparing students to become highly skilled designers in the field, equal attention is given to a fine arts approach, with special projects and classes focused on issues specific to creating one-of-a-kind works of art. As students develop artistically and their design and creative processes improve, they're encouraged to apply newfound technical skills and advanced techniques to making innovative two- and three-dimensional work.

Learning environment

The department maintains a close connection to the field through its alumni, group field trips, professional internships and guest speakers and critics. In recent years, students have worked on collaborative projects with companies such as DesignTex, Bed Bath & Beyond, Hanna Andersson, dkny and Merida Meridian, among others. The experience of developing design collections with professional partners and adhering to industry standards has proven to be invaluable as students embark on their own paths after graduation.

Inspiring community

Approximately 80 undergraduates and a dozen graduate students work together in various studios readily sharing ideas and offering each other feedback and assistance. In addition, the practicing professionals who teach in the department are fully committed to supporting the development of artists and designers who are eager to energize the field. Faculty work with students individually and in groups to help each Textiles graduate develop a strong personal vision and a deep understanding of all aspects of the discipline.

Curriculum

In the first year of the program, sophomores learn various methods of print design, silkscreen, weaving, knitting and dyeing before choosing to focus on either fine arts work or industry-related projects. Juniors concentrate on more advanced techniques by focusing on an area or areas of personal interest, developing individual concepts and broadening perspectives by taking courses in other disciplines. In addition to producing a final degree project, seniors pursue internships designed to strengthen connections to the professional world.

Foundation year

Fall
Drawing I
Design I
Spatial Dynamics I
First-year Literature Seminar
Theory and History of Art and Design I: Global Modernisms
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Drawing II
Design II
Spatial Dynamics II
Topics in History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Theory and History of Art and Design II: Premodern Worlds

Sophomore

Fall
Surface Design
Fibers and Dyeing
Liberal Arts electives
Machine Knitting
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
From an Idea to Meaning
Weaving I
Fabric Silkscreen
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
CAD in Textiles
Textiles studio electives
Non-major studio electives
Liberal Arts electives
Open electives
Wintersession
Non-major studio electives
Spring
CAD in Textiles
Textiles studio electives
Liberal Arts electives
Open electives

Senior

Fall
Textiles studio electives
Liberal Arts electives
Open elective
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Textiles Degree Project
Liberal Arts electives

Degree project

Senior year culminates in a final degree project that defines each student's personal area of interest, mode of working and future direction.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • engage in the design process by framing a premise and iterating material responses as an idea evolves
  • understand the purpose and context of a finished work and how these may inform decisions made in the process of creating it
  • articulate inspirations, explain interpretations and defend solutions in one's own creative process
  • demonstrate strong visual and material competency - including in color, pattern, texture, structure and materiality - in regards to the creation of two- and three-dimensional work
  • demonstrate excellence in craftsmanship by creating wovens, knits and surface works that are well considered, deftly made and fully resolved
  • explain the current field in the context of art, architecture, design and technology
  • demonstrate broad historical and theoretical awareness of the textile field and its larger disciplinary, cultural and economic contexts
  • recognize environmental/sustainability and social concerns related to textile processes and manufacturing

Application requirements

  1. Common Application

    You’ll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the Common Application. There is a non-refundable application fee of $60 to use this service; eligible students may apply for a fee waiver.

  2. Academic transcripts

    Applicants must provide official transcripts of all secondary academic work through the most recent grading period. Your counselor may submit your transcript through the Common Application, Parchment, email or mail. If your academic credentials are not written in English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator prior to submission.

  3. Tests and Test-Optional

    Test-Optional, SAT and ACT

    Beginning with students applying for entrance in 2020, RISD is offering citizens or permanent residents of the United States the ability to be reviewed without submitting results from the SAT or ACT. Students who qualify may opt into this process by selecting this option within the RISD section of the Common Application. Students who hold citizenship from all other countries, as well as students who are homeschooled, are still required to submit test results from the SAT or ACT exams.

    For students who choose to submit test scores, RISD will superscore your results, looking at your highest outcome across multiple test dates. Subject tests are not required.

    RISD’s institution code number for the SAT is 3726; for ACT the code number is 003812.

    English language proficiency tests

    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.

  4. Portfolio

    Your portfolio should present 12–20 examples of your most recent work that showcases your thinking and making. You will upload your portfolio in SlideRoom through the Common Application, where you will begin the application process.

    Your selected work should reflect a full range of your ideas, curiosity, experimentation and experience in creating and making. This can include work in any medium, in finished or sketch form, and can be the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration.

    We strongly recommend that you include some examples that involve drawing from direct observation (rather than from imagination or a photograph). Drawing is a fundamental tool for visual makers from initial concept to execution, so it is valuable for reviewers to see examples of your experience with and approach to drawing.

    While the majority of your portfolio should feature finished pieces, we suggest including some research or preparatory work in up to three—but no more than three—portfolio selections. This helps reviewers better understand how you develop your ideas.

    Finally, we strongly discourage including excessive visual elements and text descriptions in a single slide submission. These are difficult to view and are likely to exceed the allowed file limit. Additional angles or detail shots of some works can either be submitted as an individual image or video upload, or you can upload a composite including up to three images. Editing is an important part of curating your portfolio. You may need to devise creative solutions to best show your work within the limits of submission guidelines.

    Our recommended file formats are: jpeg, png, gif, mp4 and mov. These formats are most compatible with SlideRoom. Google Drive or zipped files are not recommended formats for sharing your artwork.

  5. The Assignment

    In addition to submitting your portfolio, all applicants must respond to the following assignment (your response to which will be uploaded in a specific section of SlideRoom dedicated to the assignment):

    Begin by observing a phenomenon or choosing an object in the natural world. Create a visual reaction to this object or phenomenon. You may use any medium and work at any scale. Document this work and upload it as your first response.

    Then, make a transformation to or modification of your first response. We encourage you to impose no limits to the potential nature or scale of the alteration to your first solution. Document this altered work and upload it as your second response.

  6. Writing sample

    Submit one example of your writing, up to 650 words. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

    You will find the writing prompts in the Personal Essay section of the Common Application.

    While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we look for applicants who are not afraid to take risks in their expression. Please don't hesitate to use a writing style or method that may be outside the mainstream as you express a distinctive personal position in the samples you submit.

  7. Letter(s) of recommendation

    Although not required, these letters can be very helpful to your application. One letter is suggested, although as many as three may be submitted. 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 as a student.

    Please use the Common Application to invite your recommendation writers to submit letters through that service. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to admissions@risd.edu.