Early Decision application deadline
Decisions are released in the second week of December. Please note that applying for Early Decision indicates a commitment to attend if admitted.
Early Decision financial aid deadline
Regular Decision application deadline
Decisions are released in the third week of March.
Regular Decision financial aid deadline
Application requirements for 2020 entry
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Submitting your materials
Submit your application form through the Common Application.
Have your school send official transcripts to the Admissions Office, either electronically through the Common Application, Parchment or email, or by mail.
Upload your portfolio through SlideRoom.
Upload your responses to The Assignment in Slideroom.
Upload your writing sample and letters of recommendation through the Common Application.
We prefer that your credentials be submitted electronically using the online tools.
Paper versions of official transcripts, recommendations, writing sample and test reports may also be mailed to:
Rhode Island School of Design
Two College Street
Providence, RI 02903
Brown|RISD Dual Degree program
Students applying for admission to the Brown|RISD Dual Degree program must complete the application process at both institutions by our respective deadlines: January 1 for Brown and February 1 for RISD.
You may not apply to both RISD and Brown using the Early Decision deadline, although you can choose to apply to one of the two schools early. If you do so, please indicate your interest in this program on your application.
The only additional credential required to apply for this program is the Dual Degree Supplement, which is included within the Common Application. Note that the Dual Degree essay does not replace the other required writing sample.
Students must be admitted both to RISD and Brown before being considered for admission to the Dual Degree program.
Graduation from secondary school is a prerequisite, although a high school equivalency diploma may be accepted. Prospective applicants are urged to follow a college preparatory program in secondary school, taking courses in studio art and art history where possible. Courses that develop visual and design skills (such as studio drawing) are strongly recommended. Students interested in our Architecture program must have completed a course sequence in mathematics including algebra, geometry and trigonometry and one year of science, preferably physics.