Transfer application deadline for spring semester
Decisions are released the second week of December. Note: If you have been considered and denied admission for the spring semester, you cannot be reconsidered for entrance the following fall.
Transfer application deadline for fall semester
Decisions are released the third week of April. Most transfer students are required to begin their RISD education with the Summer Experimental and Foundation Studies Program, a six-week session that runs from mid June through the end of July. Modeled on the full-year Experimental and Foundation Studies curriculum that all freshmen follow, the summer program is an integral part of the RISD learning experience, offering studios in Drawing, Design and Spatial Dynamics. If you have completed the equivalent of RISD’s first-year program, this requirement may be waived. The Admissions Committee automatically reviews all applicants and issues waivers where warranted.
Transfer financial aid deadline
Fall term If you will have satisfactorily completed at least one full year of study at a college 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) by June 2018, you may apply as an upperclass transfer student. 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.
Spring term If you have completed two years (approximately 60 credits) of college and your visual arts training and accomplishments qualify you to enter a specific RISD program as a second-semester sophomore, you may be considered for admission in the spring semester. Opportunities and eligibility for spring admission vary by department. If you have questions about your eligibility for transferring in the spring, please contact email@example.com.
Transfer students enter RISD degree programs as sophomores—at the second-year level, which is when departmental major requirements call for sequential courses focused on a specific studio discipline. Applicants with prior experience that closely matches RISD’s curriculum may be eligible for placement at a more advanced level, either at the time of admission or after the first semester. Your application decision will indicate the level at which you are admitted
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 covering at least the last three full years of academic work completed. This should include all college transcripts and if applicable, your secondary school transcript. If you are attending a school in non-English-speaking country, your academic credentials must be translated into English by an approved translator.
Transcripts can be submitted by school officials through the Common App, Parchment, eTranscript, email or mail.
Tests and Test-Optional
If you are a transfer applicant to Architecture, Interior Architecture or Industrial Design with less than three years of higher education, you must submit results from either the SAT or the ACT. Submitting these scores is optional if you’re applying to any other department. RISD’s CEEB code for the SAT is 003726; 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, using the prompt indicted below. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.
- Provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve by joining us at RISD.
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 dynamic position in the samples you submit.
Your writing sample may be uploaded through the Common Application.
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 first-hand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student.
Please use the Common Application to invite people who are writing letters in support of your application to upload them through that service. Letters may also be sent to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitting your materials
Submit your application form through the Common Application.
Have your school(s) send official transcripts to the Admissions Office - electronically through the Common Application, Parchment or eTranscript - or by email or mail.
Upload your portfolio through SlideRoom.
Upload the 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 samples and test reports may also be mailed to:
Rhode Island School of Design
Two College Street
Providence, RI 02903
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 and will be applied toward the 42 liberal arts credits required for graduation. A grade of C or better is required in order to transfer credits from other institutions. The Division of Liberal Arts determines whether each course is eligible for transfer credit. Once you have enrolled as a RISD degree student, you may only transfer 12 credits from other institutions.
Credits earned in previous studio courses will be reviewed by faculty 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. Your application decision will indicate your entry level.
Typically, credit for appropriate studio courses will be reviewed after your first term in the department. Advanced standing may be granted after your initial work at RISD and your previous studio experience have been evaluated. RISD requires a minimum of two years of residency before granting a degree.
Summer Experimental and Foundation Studies program
Most transfer students are required to attend the Summer Experimental and Foundation Studies (SEFS) program, a six-week immersion in RISD’s approach to studio learning. The program is taught by EFS faculty and offers the same three studios as in the foundation year: Drawing, Design and Spatial Dynamics. Each studio session meets 10 hours (over one and a half days) a week—or a total of 60 hours per course.
Students who complete the program successfully earn nine of the 18 required credits in EFS and find it to be an excellent way to transition to RISD. It both strengthens their confidence as makers and reinforces critical thinking and making capabilities.