Forming the basis of education at RISD, "critical making" takes place when critical thought, social awareness and immersive hands-on making intersect. The learning you do in the studio is enhanced by in-depth liberal arts studies and enriched by the broad array of opportunities and resources you can explore on and off campus.

Experimental and Foundation Studies

In Experimental and Foundation Studies, RISD's first-year program, you'll pursue questions and develop ideas through academic research, studio exploration and critical analysis. You'll take three studios: Drawing, Design and Spatial Dynamics—each meeting one full day per week—and work on an ongoing series of challenging assignments outside of scheduled class time.

Studio-based disciplines

RISD offers 16 fine art and design disciplines. Within the studio major you select—your institutional "home"—you'll learn exceptional critical thinking, making and professional practice skills and benefit from the dedicated mentorship of renowned faculty, the support of talented peers and a curriculum that allows for cross-disciplinary exploration and collaborative work.

Liberal Arts

With a long-standing emphasis on the liberal arts that makes it unique among art schools, RISD offers courses and concentrations that blend contemporary and historical thought and cover a wide range of subjects. The critical frameworks you develop will allow you to articulate ideas with independence and intelligence; think creatively, critically and analytically; and nurture a lifelong curiosity about the world.

RISD Global

If you choose to pursue an experience abroad, you'll be supported by RISD Global, the college's hub for global discourse and cross-cultural literacy. Whether you travel to study a specialized craft during Wintersession, enroll as an exchange student in another country or take an overseas course during the summer, you'll see how exciting and inspiring the world can be when you allow your imagination to roam.

RISD Museum

With a collection of 93,000 objects—from ancient to contemporary art—the RISD Museum is an amazing interdisciplinary resource for the entire community. You'll have the chance to work directly with curators of various collections and get inside access to incredible works of art and design. Few other art and design schools can match the size, scope, quality and educational programming of the RISD Museum, which is also a popular destination for the regional public.

Edna Lawrence Nature Lab

From Foundation year on, you'll have ready access to the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, where you can analyze the structure of a mineral, sketch a rare jellyfish or use a compound microscope to see what's contained in a single raindrop. By looking closely at the dynamics of the natural world, you'll experience the true power of observation and make fascinating connections to your own work.

Fleet Library

Home to a fascinating resource materials and a staff of experts excited to help inform your creative work, the Fleet Library at RISD is an award-winning example of adaptive reuse. With a circulating collection of more than 100,000 books, the library offers a wide range of resources in art, design, architecture and more, along with a Materials Resource Center, a special collection of artists' books and other specialized sources.

Brown University

As neighbors on College Hill, RISD and Brown University share a long-standing, highly collaborative relationship. RISD's dynamic Liberal Arts program is specially designed to elevate the education of artists and designers, and the scope of Brown's course offerings—from foreign languages to computer science, math and urban studies—allows you to further engage in subjects of particular interest to you. RISD students have the opportunity to cross-register for courses at Brown at no extra cost, and Brown students are able to do the same at RISD.

Writing Center

Open to all students at any stage of the writing process, the Writing Center offers peer tutoring and ongoing support for students looking to hone written messages, whether they're working on academic papers, artist’s statements, cover letters, presentations or other projects.


In Co-Works, an interdisciplinary fabrication lab for the entire RISD community, you'll get the chance to explore new and emerging technologies. Co-Works invites students in all disciplines to experiment, research and collaborate outside of the standard curriculum.

Campus Exhibitions

A key part of RISD's educational and social fabric, exhibitions offer exciting curatorial opportunities and occasions for you to present your work to the wider community. Whether you participate in a department-specific exhibition, propose a group show or invite peers and faculty to see your work in progress during an Open Studio night, these events are a great way to discover the creative currents running through RISD.