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Rhode Island School of Design

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Type  Private art school
Endowment  $328.3 million
Undergraduates  1,883
Mascot  Scrotie
President  Rosanne Somerson
Established  1877
Students  2,282
Acceptance rate  37.2% (2015)
Total enrollment  2,481 (2015)
Phone  +1 401-454-6100
Academic staff  146 full-time336 part-time
Address  2 College St, Providence, RI 02903, USA
Undergraduate tuition and fees  Local tuition: 45,530 USD (2015), Domestic tuition: 44,594 USD (2015)
Notable alumni  Seth MacFarlane, Dale Chihuly, Kara Walker, David Macaulay, Rosanne Somerson
Similar  Brown University, School of the Art Institute o, Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, School of Visual Arts

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, /ˈrɪzd/) is a fine arts and design college located in Providence, in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. It has been ranked among the best art and design universities in the United States, while the QS World University Rankings by Subject ranked it as the world's 3rd best institution for the study and practice of Art & Design in 2016.


Founded in 1877, it is located at the base of College Hill; the RISD campus is contiguous with the Brown University campus. The two institutions share social, academic, and community resources and offer joint courses. Applicants to RISD are required to complete RISD's two-drawing "hometest".

It includes, on the Fall 2015 term, about 470 faculty and curators, and 400 staff members. About 2,014 undergraduates and 467 graduate students enroll from all over the United States and 57 other countries. It offers 16 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate majors. RISD is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a consortium of thirty-six leading art schools in the United States. It also maintains over 80,000 works of art in the RISD Museum.


The Centennial Women were a group formed to raise funds for a separate Women's Pavilion showcasing women's work at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. In a little over a year the RI women raised over $10,000 with spectacles such a recreation of the burning of the Gaspee that drew a crowd of 9000, the writing and publication of a monthly newspaper, Herald of the Century, and an art exhibition. The Women's Pavilion at the 1876 Centennial successfully highlighted women's "economic right to self-sufficiency" and included exhibits from recently founded design schools, displays of new patents by women entrepreneurs, and a library containing only books written by women. The Rhode Island Centennial Women submitted their newspaper, Herald of the Century, to this Women's Pavilion's library.

At the end of the World's Fair, the RI Centennial Women had $1,675 left over and spent some time negotiating how best to memorialize their achievements. Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf proposed that the group donate the money to found what would become the Rhode Island School of Design, and this option was chosen by a majority of the women on January 11, 1877. The school was incorporated in March 1877 and opened its doors the following fall at the Hoppin Homestead in downtown Providence, RI. Metcalf directed the school until her death in 1895. Her daughter, Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke, then took over until her death in 1931.

The Rhode Island General Assembly ratified "An Act to Incorporate the Rhode Island School of Design" on March 22, 1877, "[f]or the purpose of aiding in the cultivation of the arts of design." Over the next 129 years, the following original by-laws set forth these following primary objectives:

  1. The instruction of artisans in drawing, painting, modeling, and designing, that they may successfully apply the principles of Art to the requirements of trade and manufacture.
  2. The systematic training of students in the practice of Art, in order that they may understand its principles, give instruction to others, or become artists.
  3. The general advancement of public Art Education, by the exhibition of works of Art and of Art school studies, and by lectures on Art.

Programs of study

  • Apparel Design – B.F.A.
  • Architecture – B.F.A./B.Arch, M.Arch
  • Ceramics – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Digital + Media – M.F.A.
  • Film/Animation/Video – B.F.A.
  • Furniture Design – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Glass – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Graphic Design – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Illustration – B.F.A.
  • Industrial Design – B.F.A., B.I.D., M.I.D.
  • Interior Architecture – M.A.
  • Department of Interior Architecture: Degree in Interior Studies: Adaptive Reuse – B.F.A., M.Des
  • Jewelry/Metalsmithing – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Landscape Architecture – M.L.A.
  • Painting – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Photography – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Printmaking – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Sculpture – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Teaching & Learning in Art & Design – M.F.A.
  • Textiles – B.F.A., M.F.A.
  • Rankings

    RISD is annually ranked as the top art and design school in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranked RISD first amongst Fine Arts programs, above Yale University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2015 and 2016, RISD has been ranked 3rd by the QS World University Rankings amongst Art & Design programs. Within subdivisions of Fine Arts, the school was ranked 1st in graphic design, printmaking and industrial design; 2nd in painting; and 3rd in ceramics and photography. Its undergraduate architecture program ranked 7 in DesignIntelligence's ranking of the Top Architecture Schools in the US for 2017.


    Concentrations at RISD do not confer a degree; they act like minors at other education institutions and require courses in the chosen field.

  • History, Philosophy, Social Sciences
  • English
  • Art History
  • Liberal Arts
  • RISD Museum

    The RISD Museum houses a collection of fine and decorative art objects. The first public galleries opened in 1893.

    Fleet Library

    Founded in 1878, the RISD Library is one of the oldest independent art college libraries in the country. Its more than 145,000 volumes and 380 periodical subscriptions offer unusual depth and richness in the areas of architecture, art, design and photography. The collection provides strong historical and contemporary perspectives, and materials in landscape architecture, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry support upper-level research. The library is also noted for its artist’s book collection, its rare books and outstanding visual resources collections.

    A nationally award-winning example of adaptive reuse, this 55,000-sf renovated bank building and second floor houses 130,000 books, 685,000 image and sound holdings, and 1,200 artists books.

    Students also have access to Brown University libraries and the Providence Athenaeum.

    Nature Lab

    Edna W. Lawrence founded the Nature Lab at Rhode Island School of Design in 1937. Lawrence graduated from RISD in 1920 and began teaching at RISD in 1922. The Nature Lab is a collection of plant, bird, marine, and animal specimens, many of which circulate to RISD students and faculty for use in their studios. The Arthur Loeb Science Design collection is housed in the Nature Lab and includes three-dimensional geometric models and two-dimensional patterns found in the natural world.

    XYZ Magazine

    XYZ Magazine is RISD's primary print publication by and about the school's alumni. It was first published in May 2010, replacing the college’s original magazine, risd views (1995–2009). The magazine encourages the participation of its alumni with the mission "to keep readers informed about the people, projects and passions that make RISD’s creative community so special." The magazine is published twice a year.

    Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts

    * Commencement speaker


    Rhode Island School of Design Wikipedia