Student Life

Our Neighborhood

RISD Beach view of Carr Haus

Given its relatively small footprint, Providence is comfortable and easy to navigate, with seven colleges and universities making it very student-focused. A vibrant community of artists and designers—including many alumni who choose to stay in the area—adds to the flavor, as do the city’s eclectic neighborhoods, which offer a variety of lifestyles, restaurants and entertainment options. Students often take advantage of day trips to Boston, New York or beautiful beaches as appealing options for inspiration and refreshment.

On-campus stores


As the primary retail venue on campus, the risd:store carries a wide variety of art supplies, as well as trade books, digital and office supplies, convenience items, and a large selection of RISD-imprinted clothing and gifts. The store also includes a rotating retail collection of work by RISD alumni.

risd:store 3d

This essential supply store stocks a wide variety of materials and supplies used in 3D studios from ceramics to glass, jewelry, sculpture and woodworking. Plywood, hardwood, plexiglass, glass and metal rods can be cut to size for next-day pickup. Knowledgeable and dedicated staff members are always on hand at the risd:store 3d to help source materials and answer questions.

Cards worth carrying

Beyond identifying you as a member of the campus community, your RISD ID card is an invaluable key to accessing almost everything here—from getting into buildings, labs and shops to checking out books from the library and getting free admission to the RISD Museum.


risdbucks is an optional prepaid debit account that offers a convenient and safe way for students to purchase products and services wherever you see the risdbucks logo—both on and off campus. Funds placed in the risdbucks system don’t expire, meaning you can roll them over by semester and academic year. Participants can also manage the account from any computer or by downloading a mobile app, viewing transaction history and real-time account information and finding off-campus businesses that accept risdbucks.

Student advantage

RISD students are also eligible for a discounted rate on the Student Advantage card, which is offered to college students nationally as a way to save on a wide range of services and products.

Getting around


With a RISD ID card, students, faculty and staff can ride RI Public Transportation Authority buses anywhere in the state for free.


On-demand transportation in Providence and throughout Rhode Island is available through Uber and Lyft.


Thanks to our partnership with zipcar, students get a discount when they join and have access to vehicles at dozens of convenient locations on or near campus.


RISD is a short walk from the Providence Amtrak Station, where you can catch a train from Providence to NYC daily and enjoy the city’s world-famous museums, galleries and cultural landmarks in just over 3 hours – or less when if you take Amtrak’s Acela Express.

MBTA Commuter Rail

Students can take a one-hour ride to scenic Boston on the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Commuter Rail to enjoy world-class dining, shopping, arts and culture while taking in the city's rich historical character.

Interstate Bus Service

Travel to New York, Boston, and throughout the country is also available through Greyhound, Peter Pan, Megabus and other commercial bus lines that depart from downtown Providence.

Local art and culture

RISD is a perfect fit for Providence, which dubs itself “the Creative Capital.” Students find a range of film, food, music, theater and arts options to choose from, many a short walk or bike ride from campus. Independent and experimental cinema reigns at the nearby Avon Cinema. AS220, the city’s eclectic community arts center, brings together adventurous gallery shows and live music with a popular restaurant/bar just around the corner from the award-winning Trinity Repertory Company. Downcity is peppered with music and dance clubs, and many old mills in Olneyville and on the West End offer converted spaces for local bands. Creative hubs like the 3D studio and educational center The Steel Yard, New Urban Arts and Big Nazo Lab have RISD connections—and many more welcome students and alumni to get involved.

Neighborhoods with character

Providence is full of interesting old colonial architecture, artists’ lofts, great restaurants and distinctive ethnic neighborhoods—from the Italian section on Federal Hill to the Portuguese community in Fox Point and enclaves of resettled refugees from Liberia and Southeast Asia in South Providence and Elmwood.

Upperclass and grad students who opt out of RISD housing generally choose to live in neighborhoods within a mile campus—often in 18th- and 19th-century homes on Benefit Street and College Hill, and in Fox Point, Wayland Square and other areas of the East Side. Most students walk or bike everywhere they want to go, though public buses are also available to RISD students at no cost.

In city’s West End and Olneyville neighborhoods—and in nearby Pawtucket—RISD alumni and others have transformed old mill buildings into artists’ collectives, lofts, performance spaces, galleries, bars and restaurants.

A lot of colleges per capita

Providence’s colleges and universities attract an incredibly diverse community of students, making for a very student-centric atmosphere, especially on College Hill, where RISD and Brown share neighboring campuses.

Brown University

The seventh-oldest college in the country, Brown is a world-renowned Ivy League research university with many highly-ranked undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. Students at RISD and Brown can cross-register for classes at each institution and selected students are enrolled in the Brown | RISD Dual Degree program, which enables them to earn two degrees simultaneously.

Community College of Rhode Island

Local CCRI students of all ages attend classes at two campuses in the city—one in the heart of downtown—working towards associate’s degrees in a wide range of fields.

Johnson & Wales University

Specializing in business, hospitality and culinary arts education, this private, nonprofit university enrolls approximately 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students at four campuses in the US.

Providence College

The only school of higher education in the country administered by Dominican Friars, Providence College is a Catholic college with a strong liberal arts tradition and recognized Big East Conference athletics programs. You can check out a men's basketball game at the Dunkin' Donuts Center just a short walk from RISD’s campus.

Rhode Island College

Founded in 1854 and located in Providence's Mount Pleasant neighborhood, RIC is the state's oldest public institution of higher learning and is especially well known for its teacher training and nursing programs.

University of Rhode Island

The URI Feinstein Campus downtown is a satellite campus for the state's largest public university—located 30 miles south in Kingston, RI. It offers both undergraduate and graduate classes along with continuing education certificate programs.