Rhode Island School of Design Withdraws from U.S. News & World Report’s Annual Rankings
February 13, 2023
School cites inability of rankings to accurately assess art and design education, while also running counter to principles of social equity and inclusion
PROVIDENCE, RI – February 13, 2023 – Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) announced today that it will no longer participate in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “best colleges” rankings.
In a communication to the campus community, RISD President Crystal Williams said, “Principally, Rhode Island School of Design does not measure the value of our students or our academic programs based on the same factors used by U.S. News & World Report. Our educational model is predicated on three primary ways of learning: visual, material and intellectual. The value of our unique form of education can be seen and felt in the daily impact our students, alums, faculty and staff have on the world. In a recent survey, more than 80 percent of our alums said they were proud of and happy with their RISD education. And 90 percent believe their RISD education has been essential to their professional success. Alums also tell us that, on average, two-thirds of their work ‘makes the world a better place to live’—a powerful reminder of the altruism inherent in the RISD community on campus and beyond. We believe that these outcomes speak to the impact and effectiveness of a RISD education."
Until last year, U.S. News & World Report categorized RISD and other art and design schools as “Speciality Schools: Art.” Under this heading, RISD’s undergraduate programs (reflecting 80 percent of matriculants) were unranked. However and as a result of small curriculum changes to some of RISD’s programs, last year it was categorized as a “regional school.”
“As is often the case, change triggers important reflection and opportunities to reassess and revise a course of action,” continued President Williams. “So, while we ranked #3 out of 181 schools in the ‘Best Regional Universities North,’ a category placing us in comparison to institutions with which we share very little in common, this change by U.S. News catalyzed our deeper thinking about the ranking system overall, its relevance to RISD and our work as educators and the criteria used to create it. Many of those criteria have been written about in critical terms and publicly questioned, and are unambiguously biased in favor of wealth, privilege and opportunities that are inequitably distributed.”
Various other higher education institutions—most recently, Duke University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School, Stanford University School of Medicine, Yale Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law, University of Michigan Medical School and the University of California at Berkeley’s law school—have also decided to withdraw from these rankings.
"RISD’s institutional commitment to embodying the principles of social equity and inclusion also means that, where possible, we eschew participation in systems that strongly rely on exclusion and inequity,” President Williams noted. “I hope many more will follow.”
About Rhode Island School of Design
RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) is a creative community founded in 1877 in Providence, RI. Today, we enroll 2,620 students hailing from 59 countries. Led by a committed faculty, they are engaged in 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and supported by a worldwide network of over 31,000 alumni who demonstrate the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society.
Beyond facts and figures, what is the spirit of this community? Through a cross-disciplinary curriculum of studio-based learning and rigorous study in the liberal arts, RISD students are encouraged to develop their own personal creative processes, but they are united by one guiding principle: in order to create, one must question. In cultivating expansive and elastic thinking, RISD seeks to activate a critical exchange that empowers artists, designers and scholars to generate and challenge the ideas that shape our world. RISD’s mission, at both the college and museum, is not only to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, but to transmit that knowledge and make global contributions.
Senior Director, Public Relations / RISD