Apply to RISD


ashcan student work 

First-year (Freshman) Applicants


Early Decision deadline: November 1

Regular deadline: February 1



Fall: March 15

Spring: November 1 


» Begin your RISD application


You’ll begin and manage your RISD application process using The Common Application. There is a non-refundable application fee of $60 to use this service and eligible students may apply for a fee waiver.

If for some reason you’re not able to use the Common App, please contact the Admissions Office at or 800 364 7473.

Academic Transcripts  Applicants must provide official transcripts of all secondary academic work through the most recent grading period. If you are attending school in another country, your academic credentials must be translated into English by an approved translator. Your counselor may submit your transcript through the Common App, Parchment, email or mail.

SAT or ACT | All applicants are required to submit the results of the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT (American College Testing program). Subject tests are not required. RISD’s CEEB code number for the SATs is 003726; for ACT the code number is 003812.

TOEFL or IELTS | All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Since proficiency in English is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants must attain an acceptable score on either test; RISD requires a minimum result of 93 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on IELTS. Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take six weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD.

Portfolio  Your portfolio should show a selection of 12–20 examples of your best recent artwork. We suggest that the work reflect the full range of your ideas, interests, experience and abilities in the arts to date. Work presented can be in any medium (including film or video), in finished or sketch form, and the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration. We strongly recommend that you include a few pages from your journal or sketchbook to indicate your process of research, thinking and investigation.

Please don’t submit a multi-page PDF with individual and unrelated works on each page since this is likely to exceed the limit of 20 examples we’ve requested. The only exception to this is a portfolio piece like a graphic novel where multiple pages are part of a single, cohesive work.

Portfolios must be submitted through SlideRoom, an online portfolio service (which requires an additional $10 fee).

The Assignment  Choose one of the following three prompt options and create two responses using any medium you prefer (no restrictions).

We consider this assignment to be as much about process as presentation and encourage you to consider your submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and risk-taking more than as final presentations or examples of technical proficiency. No particular outcome is valued more than another, so feel free to explore the full range of possible expression in these works.

• deconstruct | ˌdēkənˈstrəkt | verb [with obj.] | reduce (something) to its constituent parts in order to reinterpret it

  1. Select something.
  2. Deconstruct it.
  3. Make a work in response to the process or result of the deconstruction.
  4. Create a title for the work.

• light | līt | noun | the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible
verb [with obj.] | provide with light or lighting; illuminate

  1. Create a work using light or the illusion of light.
  2. Create a title for the work.

• contain | kənˈtān | verb [with obj.] | have or hold (someone or something) within | container | kənˈtānər | noun | an object that can be used to hold or transport something

  1. Identify what you want to contain.
  2. Create a container for it.
  3. Create a title for the work.

Please upload your responses in the specific section of SlideRoom dedicated to these works. (Do not include them in the Portfolio area of SlideRoom.)

If the file size of either of your responses exceeds 10 MB, please embed a link to direct us to another viewing platform such as a personal website, Vimeo, etc.

In the SlideRoom submission section for your two works, we also ask you to reflect on the two responses that you are sharing and provide a brief response to this question: What are the other directions or ideas you would explore as a next step?

Writing Sample  Submit one example of your writing, up to 650 words. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

The writing prompts are listed below, but you will also find these prompts in the Personal Essay section of the Common Application.

Select one of the following options:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we look for applicants who are not afraid to take risks in their expression. Please don’t hesitate to use a writing style or method that may be outside the mainstream as you express a distinctive personal position in the samples you submit.

Letter(s) of Recommendation  Although not required, these letters can be very helpful to your application. One letter is suggested, although as many as three may be submitted. Recommendation letters should be written by teachers or other professionals who have firsthand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student.

Please use the Common Application to invite people who are writing letters in support of your application to upload them through that service. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to


» Submit your application form through The Common Application.

» Have your school send official transcripts to the Admissions Office – electronically through the Common Application or Parchment – or by email or mail.

» Upload your portfolio in SlideRoom.

» Upload your two responses for the RISD assignment in SlideRoom. Respond to the question about further explorations concerning your responses to the assignment.

» Upload your writing sample and letters of recommendation through the Common Application.

We prefer that your credentials be submitted electronically using the online tools but paper versions of official transcripts, recommendations, writing sample and test reports may also be mailed to:

Admissions Office
Rhode Island School of Design
Two College Street
Providence, RI 02903


Students applying for admission to the Dual Degree Program must complete the application process at both institutions by our respective deadlines: January 1 for Brown and February 1 for RISD.

You may not apply to both RISD and Brown using the Early Decision deadline, although you can choose to apply to one of the two schools early. If you do so, please indicate your interest in this program on your application.

The only additional credential required to apply for this program is the Dual Degree Supplement, which is included within the Common App. Note that the dual degree essay does not replace the other required writing sample.

Students must be admitted both to RISD and Brown before being considered for admission to the Dual Degree Program

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