Rhode Island School of Design Launches Test-Optional Admissions Policy

August 30, 2019

Policy will broaden access for students from diverse backgrounds

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has adopted a test-optional admissions process, which allows first-year applications to be reviewed without the submission of results from the SAT or ACT standardized tests. Beginning with students applying for entrance in 2020, RISD is offering a test-optional route for applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the US. Applicants who hold citizenship from other countries, as well as those who are homeschooled, will still be required to submit results from the SAT or ACT to provide a clearer picture of their academic history.

RISD joins a growing group of colleges and universities that are now test-optional. National data supports the trend and shows that test-optional policies provide greater access to students from diverse educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. Social equity is a core value at RISD, and this new policy is being implemented in part to help increase access for underrepresented students.

“The ability of a standardized test to measure students’ academic capabilities is increasingly questioned, with new research demonstrating that these tests may privilege applicants in particular demographic groups,” notes RISD President Rosanne Somerson. “Therefore testing requirements can limit access to college for very qualified students. As outlined in RISD’s new strategic plan, we’re committed to contributing to the creation of just societies through social equity and inclusion, and a test-optional admissions policy is in line with our priorities. We’re focused on making a RISD education more accessible, relevant and powerful than ever before.”

Going forward, applicants will continue to submit portfolios of recent work and visual responses to an established assignment, both heavily weighted application components. Using enrolled student data as a benchmark, the Admissions team has determined that this assessment, when considered alongside high school GPA, is the best indicator of an applicant’s ability to succeed at RISD.

Learn more about RISD Admissions and the application process.

About Rhode Island School of Design
RISD’s mission, through its college and museum, is to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation. The college’s strategic plan NEXT: RISD 2020–2027 sets an ambitious vision for educating students for the future and bringing creative practices to bear on the creation of just societies, a sustainable planet and new ways of making and knowing. RISD’s immersive model of art and design education, which emphasizes critical making through studio-based learning and robust study in the liberal arts, prepares students to intervene in the critical challenges of our time. Working with exceptional faculty and in extraordinary specialized facilities, 2,500 students from 69 countries engage in 42 full-time bachelor's and master's degree programs. RISD’s 30,000 alumni worldwide testify to the impact of this model of education, exemplifying the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. Find more information at risd.edu.