All undergraduate students at RISD take first-year studios in Experimental and Foundation Studies, followed by a major course of study in a specific fine arts or design discipline beginning sophomore year. Rigorous courses in Liberal Arts enrich studio learning.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, here you earn deep disciplinary knowledge, strong critical thinking skills and the agility to problem solve and connect the dots across a wide range of fields.
Experimental and Foundation Studies
At RISD we believe that all undergrads benefit from a shared understanding of our approach to studio learning. This is why first-year students follow the same studio curriculum—known here as Experimental and Foundation Studies (EFS).
Each of the three programs of study—Drawing, Design and Spatial Dynamics—meets one full day per week, with faculty working closely with you to offer ongoing guidance and feedback. Through group critiques, you’ll present your work and support that of your peers.
Undergraduate degrees offered
Undergraduate students can build on their degree programs by electing a concentration beyond a studio major. Concentrations at RISD are similar to “minors” at other colleges and universities. Totally optional, they offer context and perspective while enriching learning both in and beyond the studio.
Liberal Arts concentrations
History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences (HPSS)
Focused on the psychological, social, political, philosophical and cultural aspects of life, the History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences concentration is built around nine tracks:
- Belief Systems
- Environmental Studies
- Gender, Sexuality and Race
- Global Processes
- Media, Technology and Cultural Studies
- Mind, Self and Behavior
- Politics and Policy
- Regional Studies
- Scientific Inquiry
Literary Arts and Studies (LAS)
Literary Arts and Studies draws on a wide range of literary traditions, genres, periods and theoretical approaches to let students pursue in-depth studies in literature and writing. Concentrators develop sophisticated critical thinking, reading and writing skills, along with a strong writing voice and understanding of literature’s role in world culture.
Theory and History of Art and Design (THAD)
Embracing a range of media and perspectives, Theory and History of Art and Design stresses critical thinking and analysis. Concentrators gain clarity of written and verbal communication and learn artistic expression’s historical and cultural value.
Computation, Technology and Culture (CTC)
Computation, Technology and Culture melds instruction in programming languages with frameworks for understanding the technologies that shape society and culture. Throughout the curriculum concentrators enjoy opportunities to merge digital technologies and art and design practices.
RISD’s concentration in Drawing offers deep engagement with the notion of drawing as speculation. Studios highlight the discipline’s connection to innovation and discovery, as students explore drawing as both an integral art and design practice and a means for creating resolved artworks. Concentrators think critically about drawing’s history and role in the world and consider their own work in this context.
Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies (NCSS)
The 21-credit undergraduate concentration in Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies invites focused study on the environmental humanities and interconnected phenomena of contemporary life. Concentrators pursue issues related to biomimicry, emerging technologies, global warming, hybridity and sustainability, among other options. In doing so, they develop an informed planetary point of view along with critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Get to know RISD
Connect with RISD Admissions on your path to discovering our creative community.
Discover the studios that make up our first-year curriculum: Drawing, Design and Spatial Dynamics.
Learn ways to finance a RISD education with support from our Student Financial Services team.