Transfer Applicants


Applications for transfer admission are accepted beginning on September 1.

 » Begin your RISD application

Deadline for fall (summer) term entrance: March 15  

Decisions are mailed the third week of April.

Most transfer students are required to begin their RISD education with the Summer Experimental and Foundation Studies Program, a six-week session that runs from mid June through the end of July. Modeled on the full-year Experimental and Foundation Studies curriculum that all first-year students follow, the summer program is an integral part of the RISD learning experience, offering studios in Drawing, Design and Spatial Dynamics. If you have completed the equivalent of RISD’s first-year program, this requirement may be waived. The Admissions Committee automatically reviews all applicants and issues waivers where warranted.

Deadline for spring term entrance: November 1

Decisions are mailed the second week of December. Note: If you have been considered and denied admission for the spring semester, you cannot be reconsidered for entrance the following fall.


Fall term  If you will have satisfactorily completed at least one full year of study at a college accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the US (or recognized in a similar fashion by an appropriate authority if the college is in another country) by June 2017, you may apply as an upperclass transfer student. A full year of college-level study consists of a minimum of 27 earned credits, including a minimum of 12 credits in the liberal arts.

Spring term  If you have completed two years (approximately 60 credits) of college and your visual arts training and accomplishments qualify you to enter a specific RISD program as a second-semester sophomore, you may be considered for admission in the spring semester. Opportunities for spring admission vary by department and mid-year entrance is generally not possible in the architectural studies majors.

Transfer students enter RISD degree programs as sophomores – at the second-year level, which is when departmental major requirements call for sequential courses focused on a specific studio discipline. Applicants with prior experience that closely matches RISD’s curriculum may be eligible for placement at a more advanced level, either at the time of admission or after the first semester. Your application decision will indicate the level at which you are admitted


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 covering at least the last three full years of academic work completed. This should include all college transcripts and if applicable, your secondary school transcript. If you are attending a school in non-English-speaking country, your academic credentials must be translated into English by an approved translator.

Transcripts can be submitted by school officials through the Common App, Parchment, eTranscript, email or mail.

Tests SAT or ACT | If you are a transfer applicant to Architecture, Interior Architecture or Industrial Design, you must submit results from either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT (American College Testing program). Submitting these scores is optional if you’re applying to any other department or you’ve already completed at least three years of higher education. RISD’s CEEB code 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 your ideas, interests, experience and abilities in the arts to date. Work presented can be in any media (including film or video), in finished or sketch form and the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration. We strongly recommend you to include 2–3 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.

Your responses should be uploaded in SlideRoom in the specific section dedicated for these works. Do not include them in the Portfolio area in SlideRoom.

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

In the SlideRoom submission section for your two works, we also ask you to provide a brief statement responding to this question:

Reflect on the two responses that you are sharing. 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, using the prompt indicted below. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

  • Provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve by joining us at RISD.

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 dynamic position in the samples you submit.

Your writing sample may be uploaded through the Common Application.

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 first-hand 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 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, Parchment or eTranscript  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 samples and test reports may also be mailed to:

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


Academic courses  Course credits in liberal arts, mathematics, science and foreign languages earned at other colleges or universities accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the US (or recognized in a similar fashion by an appropriate authority if the college is in another country) are usually transferable to RISD and will be applied toward the 42 liberal arts credits required for graduation. A grade of C or better is required in order to transfer credits from other institutions. The Division of Liberal Arts determines whether each course is eligible for transfer credit. Once you have enrolled as a RISD degree student, you may only transfer 12 credits from other institutions.

Studio courses  Credits earned in previous studio courses will be reviewed by faculty during the application process. Studio credits are generally not transferable at the point of entrance, but in rare instances, they may allow placement at a more advanced level. Your application decision will indicate your entry level.

Typically, credit for appropriate studio courses will be reviewed after your first term in the department. Advanced standing may be granted after your initial work at RISD and your previous studio experience have been evaluated. RISD requires a minimum of two years of residency before granting a degree.

Visit RISD

We’d love to welcome you here on campus and visiting RISD while classes are in session is highly recommended to get a true feel for the atmosphere and nature of our studio learning process.

If you’re not able to make it to campus, RISD representatives are available to speak with you at selected Portfolio Days throughout the country.
And, of course, please contact us with any questions!

401 454-6300


800 364-7473

Students find plenty of good outdoor spots to draw and paint at RISD.