THAD Concentration

Emphasizing theory and history as tools for critical thinking and making, both the undergraduate and graduate THAD concentration expand your knowledge and awareness of global practices across the disciplines of art and design.

Learning outcomes

Through written and spoken communication, concentrators are able to demonstrate:

  • knowledge of the world visual traditions from prehistory, classical, modern and contemporary eras
  • understanding of influences in global art history, such as religion, landscape, environment, interiors, body, ornament, technology and identity
  • the ability to identify and use art historians’ methodologies for interpreting works of art from various times and places
  • the agility to translate insights from art historical studies to one’s own creative work
  • the use of analytical tools needed for interpreting and navigating the complexities of our world, as engaged through images and visual literacy
  • the capability to generate written art/design criticism and history at a level sufficiently high to engage the interest of an accomplished art historian
  • familiarity with and use of research methods appropriate for entering an MA or PhD program

Undergraduate concentration

The undergraduate THAD concentration offers individual courses and customizable tracks that enrich and challenge your understanding of global practices across the art and design disciplines. As a concentrator you may also engage in collaborative learning through semester-long fellowships at the RISD Museum. Whether in classrooms, studios or at the museum, the THAD concentration empowers you to bridge practice, history and theory.

View undergraduate concentration details

Graduate concentration

THAD’s graduate concentration lets you augment an MFA with a 15-credit art history concentration. Knowledge of the histories and theories of art and visual culture is increasingly demanded of artists and designers, and the THAD department has designed the concentration in recognition of this phenomenon and the fact that MFA, MLA, MAT and MID recipients often enter teaching careers in which they are expected to teach history and theory as well as studio classes.

The concentration offers a structured curriculum in the history, theory and criticism of Western art, as well as that of cultures throughout the world. Ready access to the RISD Museum’s collections and curatorial staff further enrich your studies. You may choose to focus on the history and theory of your particular studio discipline or any other area that interests you.

To complete the concentration, you may incorporate any Liberal Arts graduate degree requirements and certain graduate courses offered within individual degree programs. All master’s degree candidates are eligible to add this concentration to their program of study.

View graduate concentration details

Museum Fellows Program

Selected THAD concentrators can undertake a semester-long, credit earning fellowship at the RISD Museum to work within the museum’s curatorial, education, registration or conservation departments. Administered by THAD, the program allows students to learn firsthand about museum professions.