Supporting facts & figures

The following information may be helpful in conveying and bolstering the key messages shared in this guide.

Overview (boilerplate)

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


The mission of Rhode Island School of Design, through its college and museum, is to educate its 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.


As one of the first independent colleges of its kind in the US—incorporated on March 22, 1877 along with the RISD Museum—RISD has always been something of a maverick, founded and nurtured by a small group of women more than 40 years before women in America even gained the right to vote. That year Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf urged 34 members of the Rhode Island Women’s Centennial Commission to invest their group’s surplus funding of $1,675 in founding a school of art and design (instead of building a public fountain—one of the other options on the table). In doing so, they embarked on a radical experiment under Metcalf’s able leadership and set a precedent for RISD’s ongoing commitment to challenging expectations.

Degree programs

16 Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs in:

  • Apparel Design
  • Architecture (+ BArch)
  • Ceramics
  • Film/Animation/Video
  • Furniture Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Glass
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Studies
  • Illustration
  • Jewelry + Metalsmithing
  • Photography
  • Painting
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Textiles

Brown|RISD Dual Degree (BRDD) program:

a five-year degree program in which selected students pursue bachelor’s degrees at both institutions simultaneously

11 Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in:

  • Ceramics
  • Furniture Design
  • Digital + Media
  • Glass
  • Graphic Design
  • Jewelry + Metalsmithing
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Textiles

9 other graduate programs leading to the following degrees:

  • Master of Architecture (MArch I)
  • Master of Arts in Art + Design Education (MA)
  • Master of Arts in Adaptive Reuse (MA)
  • Master of Arts in Global Arts + Cultures (MA)*
  • Master of Arts in Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies (MA)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
  • Master of Industrial Design (MID)
  • Master of Interior Design (MDes)
  • Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

* new degree program launching in fall 2019

6 concentrations (“minors”) available in:

  • Computation, Technology and Culture (CTC)
  • Drawing
  • Theory + History of Art + Design (THAD)
  • History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences (HPSS)
  • Literary Arts and Studies (LAS)
  • Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies (NCSS)

Average class size

  • 14


RISD enrolls 2,051 undergraduates and 493 graduate students from the US and more than 69 countries throughout the world.

In 2018/19, students of color accounted for 32% of the student body and international students 36%. Average SAT scores are 654 for math and 639 for evidence-based reading and writing.


RISD’s nearly 30,000 alumni include world-renowned artists, designers, architects, performers, illustrators and leaders in a host of other professions. Ten have earned MacArthur “genius grants” and graduates are frequently recognized with other international honors, including Caldecott Medals, American Institute of Architects awards, Academy, Emmy and Sundance awards, Fulbright fellowships, Guggenheim fellowships, National Design Awards, Progressive Architecture awards and the Rome Prize, among others.

Alumni include fine artists Janine Antoni, Jenny Holzer, Shahzia Sikander and Kara Walker; visual storytellers Roz Chast, David Macaulay, Chris Van Allsburg and David Wiesner; filmmakers Seth MacFarlane, Ryan Trecartin and Gus Van Sant; fashion designers Katie Gallagher, Nicole Miller and Marcia Patmos; graphic designers Tobias Frere-Jones and Michael Rock; architects Deborah Berke, Michael Gabellini and Michael Maltzan; musicians and actors David Byrne, Martin Mull and Tina Weymouth; and glass artists Dale Chihuly, Josiah McElheny and Toots Zynsky.

Many alumni achieve success as entrepreneurs—including Airbnb cofounders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia—while others work for established companies such as Apple, Gagosian Gallery, Google, Houghton-Mifflin, Marc Jacobs, Martha Stewart Living, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NASA, Nike, Pixar and SOM Architects, among others.


RISD is located in Providence, Rhode Island—on the east coast of the US, a three-hour drive north of New York City and 45 minutes south of Boston.


  • New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC)
  • National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD)
  • Landscape Architecture Accrediting Board (LAAB) of the ASLA
  • National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
  • Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDESE)

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