Apply to RISD
Transfer application deadline for spring semester
Note: We are not accepting transfer applications during the 2023–24 application cycle for spring 2024 entry.
Transfer application deadline for fall semester
Decisions are released early May.
Fall transfer financial aid deadline
Submit your RISD application form and all other credentials via the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60, plus a nonrefundable $10 fee to submit a required online portfolio via SlideRoom.
We want to make sure that application fees do not pose a barrier for any student. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll process your fee waiver request for the RISD application and SlideRoom.
You must provide official transcripts covering at least the last three full years of completed academic work. These should include all college transcripts and, if applicable, your secondary school transcript. We require that all applicants submit evidence that they have obtained a high school diploma, General Education Development certificate (or GED) or equivalent with graduation date.
If you attend a school at which English is not the language of instruction, an approved translator must translate your academic credentials into English.
Transcripts can be submitted by school officials through Parchment, eTranscript, email or mail.
Tests and test-optional
Test-Optional, SAT and ACT
We offer all applicants (domestic and international) the option to apply without submitting results from the SAT or ACT. You may opt into this process by selecting test-optional within the RISD application.
For students who choose to submit test scores, we will superscore your results, looking at your highest outcome across multiple test dates.
RISD’s institution code number for the SAT is 3726; for ACT the code number is 003812.
You can use some Advanced Placement (AP), A-Level classes and International Baccalaureate (IB) credits toward RISD liberal arts requirements. See the transfer of credit section below and view RISD's full transfer credit policy.
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)
- Duolingo (an online English test).
Since English proficiency is a prerequisite for acceptance, you need to meet a minimum score of at least 93 on the TOEFL, a 6.5 on the IELTS or a 115 on Duolingo.
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. It may take up to four days for us to receive Duolingo test results.
The language test requirement may be waived for applicants who have studied in an institution where English is the language of instruction. You must email the Admissions Office at email@example.com to explain your school history and determine if you are eligible for a waiver.
Your portfolio should present 12–20 examples of your most recent work that showcases your thinking and making. You will upload your portfolio to SlideRoom, to which you will receive access via email after starting your application.
What to include
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.
Transfer students apply directly to a specific major and we therefore recommend that you show your interest and aptitude in that area in your portfolio. However, you can still include work from other disciplines that you feel strongly about.
We strongly recommend that you include some examples that involve drawing or painting from direct observation (rather than from imagination, photograph or video). Since drawing or painting is a fundamental tool for visual makers from initial concept to execution, 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 uploads/slides. This helps reviewers better understand how you develop your ideas.
Authenticity and documentation
The authenticity of the work in your portfolio is of great importance to the Admissions Committee. We will ask you to acknowledge that the work in your portfolio was conceptualized and created by you. In the case of collaborative work, we ask that you document your contributions and credit additional artists using the Additional Details field in SlideRoom.
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 submission limit.
You can submit additional angles or detail shots of some works across multiple slide submissions, combined into one composite including no more than three images, or in a single video upload. 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.
We recommend the following file formats: jpeg, png, gif, mp4 and mov. These formats are most compatible with SlideRoom. We discourage Google Drive and zipped files.
You may be interested in attending or watching the recording of one of our portfolio tips webinars for more advice on how to approach your RISD application portfolio.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
RISD embraces the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the creative process. It is, however, important for the Admissions Committee to understand how and where AI was used. Any work supported or created by AI in your portfolio must include a description of your process and the tools you used in your making. We will ask you to acknowledge this within Slideroom.
Statement of purpose
Submit a written statement of up to 650 words that addresses the following prompt:
Provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve by joining us at RISD.
The 650-word limit is just that—a limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.
While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we also 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 dynamic position in the samples you submit.
Writing supplement (optional)
To gain a better understanding of our applicants, we ask candidates to prepare a written response to the following prompt. While the word limit is 500, do not feel obligated to reach this number. Use as little or as much space as you need.
(500 word limit)
RISD is a community of determined and engaged makers. This common bond invigorates our campus, and the backgrounds, lived experiences and curiosities of our students deeply enrich our community. Describe an aspect of your background or life experience that defines who you are. How has this influenced your creative process?
Letter(s) of recommendation
Letters of recommendation can be very helpful to your application. One letter is required, although you may include as many as three. 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 RISD Transfer Application to invite your recommendation writers to submit letters through that service. Letters may also be directly emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to our mailing address (see “Submitting your materials” below).
Submitting your materials
Our online application lets you submit your application form, official transcripts, writing sample, and letters of recommendation to a single platform. (You will submit your portfolio via SlideRoom.)
You may also mail paper versions of official transcripts, recommendations, writing requirements and test reports to:
Rhode Island School of Design
20 Washington Place
Providence, RI 02903
Questions about financial aid?
RISD’s Student Financial Services Office (SFS) works with students and parents to reach the shared goal of preparing and educating creative individuals who aspire to make a meaningful contribution to our world. Our staff is here to help you seek, obtain and make the best use of all resources available to help finance the costs of attending RISD.
Transfer students enter RISD degree programs as sophomores when, per requirements of their major, they begin following a course sequence focused on a specific studio discipline. Given RISD's studio-based, discipline-specific programs, our ability to admit transfers depends on the space available within each major.
It is possible that Admissions won’t receive space availability information until after you’ve submitted your transfer application. While we wish we could predict this sooner, it is the nature of our process and varies with each cycle. If the major you apply to cannot accept transfers, you will be notified as soon as possible.
To be eligible for transfer admissions in the fall, you must satisfactorily complete one full year of study (at least) at an accredited college by June 2023.
If you attend college in the US, your school must be accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies. If you attend college outside the US, your college must be accredited or recognized in a similar fashion by an appropriate authority.
A full year of college-level study consists of a minimum of 27 earned credits, including a minimum of 12 credits in the liberal arts.
We require about two full years of college-level study, consisting of a minimum of 60 earned credits, including a minimum of 24 credits in the liberal arts. The transfer application is not available for spring 2024 entry.
Transfer of credit
Course credits in liberal arts, mathematics, science and foreign languages earned at other colleges or universities accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the US (or recognized in a similar fashion by an appropriate authority if the college is in another country) are usually transferable to RISD. These will be applied toward the 42 liberal arts credits required for graduation.
In order for us to accept transfer credits from other institutions, you must receive a grade of C or higher. The Liberal Arts division determines whether a course is eligible for transfer credit.
Upon enrollment as a RISD degree student, you may only transfer 12 credits from other institutions. View RISD's full transfer credit policy for more information.
Studio courses and advanced standing
Faculty will review credits earned in previous studio courses during the application process. Studio credits are generally not transferable at the point of entrance, but in rare instances, they may allow placement at a more advanced level of your major curriculum. Your application decision will indicate your entry level.
Studio credits transfer at the discretion of your major's department head and the dean of Experimental and Foundation Studies.
Typically and at your request, we can review credit for appropriate studio courses after your first term in your department. This may make you eligible for a process called advanced standing. RISD may grant you advanced standing after we evaluate your initial work completed at RISD along with your previous studio experience.
We require a minimum of two years of residency before granting a degree. Please note that the advanced standing evaluation process can begin only after your first semester in RISD. The Admissions Office can’t guarantee that you will receive advanced standing.
See our transfer credit policy for more information about what credits we will and will not accept.
Summer Experimental and Foundation Studies (EFS) program
Since transfer students enter RISD at the sophomore level, they skip our first-year EFS curriculum. For that reason, we require most new transfer students to enroll in a six-week Summer EFS course, which starts in mid June.
Taught by EFS faculty, the program offers the same three studios as in the first-year curriculum: Drawing, Design and Spatial Dynamics. Each studio session meets 10 hours per week, for a total of 60 hours per studio course.
Students who successfully complete the program earn 9 of the 18 required credits in EFS. The summer program provides you an excellent way to transition to RISD, as it both strengthens your confidence as a maker and reinforces critical thinking and making capabilities.
Transfers applicants who have completed 18 comparable foundation art credits may be eligible for a Summer EFS program waiver.