Parents’ Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do RISD students receive a well-rounded liberal arts education?

    RISD’s exceptional education in fine art and design is complemented by a wide range of liberal arts courses that emphasize critical thinking and creative problem-solving. Students are required to complete 42 credits in the liberal arts constituting almost a third of the coursework toward the BFA. A concentration in Literary Arts + Studies, History, Philosophy + Social Sciences (HPSS) or History of Art + Visual Culture (HAVC) can lend new perspectives to any studio major. Students may also cross-register for classes at neighboring Brown University for foreign language and advanced science and math classes at no additional cost.

    For more information, visit Division of Liberal Arts.

  • Does RISD have a newsletter for parents?
    Yes, RISD parents receive XYZmail, a monthly email newsletter with the latest updates from RISD, both on-campus and around the world.

    Other sources of news and information include RISD’s website, blog and Twitter feed.
  • Does RISD offer programs for kids and teens? Is there a summer program for high school students?

    Yes, RISD offers a variety of engaging educational programs for children, teens and families, ranging from Continuing Education (RISD|CE) classes for youths to programs at the RISD Museum that include hands-on activities. 

    For high school students considering a college-level art degree, RISD offers a six-week residential Pre-College Summer Program that provides a comprehensive introduction to the college art school experience. Students follow a college-like studio curriculum and live in RISD residence halls in a full-immersion encounter with art and design education at the highest level.

  • How can I get more involved/volunteer at RISD?
    We invite RISD parents to share their talents and expertise with the RISD community. For more information about the RISD Parents’ Council, please contact Sarah Sligo at 401 454-6469 or ssligo@risd.edu.
  • How can I support RISD's Annual Fund?

    As parents of RISD students, you are invited to participate in your sons’ and daughters’ art and design education in a variety of ways. One way to get involved is by giving to the RISD Annual Fund, which helps ensure that RISD students, regardless of their financial means, are taught in state-of-the-art facilities by talented faculty. Tuition and fees cover only 64 percent of the actual cost of each student’s education. The rest is made up from income earned on RISD’s endowment, auxiliary enterprises and, most importantly, from generous contributions from parents, alumni and friends of the college. For more information, visit the Annual Fund website.

  • How do I request a printed catalogue?
    Visit this page in Admissions to request that a printed viewbook be mailed to you.
  • Is an internship required for students? Who should my son/daughter contact to obtain an internship?
    Taking part in an internship is not a requirement for graduation but students are strongly encouraged to participate in internships during their time at RISD. In addition to offering career advice, the RISD Careers office assists students in finding internship opportunities.
  • Should my son/daughter buy a new computer?
    Since open-access computer labs are available throughout campus, undergraduates are not required to bring a computer for Foundation year, though many students find that having their own computer is more convenient. Once you declare a major, the following undergraduate departments require specific hardware and software tools, which will be used extensively within the departmental curriculum:
    • Architecture
    • Furniture Design
    • Graphic Design
    • Industrial Design
    • Interior Architecture
    • Photography

    Open-access and department-specific computer labs are available for graduate student use throughout campus. However, most grad students also find having their own computer more convenient. The following graduate programs require students to have department-specific laptop hardware and software tools used extensively within the departmental curriculum:

    • Architecture
    • Digital + Media
    • Furniture Design
    • Graphic Design
    • Industrial Design
    • Interior Architecture
    • Landscape Architecture
    • Photography

    Some students may already own a laptop and/or software that fulfills the requirements of their major. In other cases, a student will need to purchase the necessary computer and/or software. All students entering departments with specific computer requirements will receive detailed system specifications, ordering instructions for discounted purchases and laptop program policy information. Academic Laptop Program costs vary depending on each department’s specifications, but required hardware and software costs generally range between $2,900 and $3,500.

  • What careers do RISD graduates pursue apart from art and design?
    Many RISD alumni choose to apply the critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills they learned at RISD to a wide range of other pursuits. In addition to starting their own businesses, RISD graduates have gone on to run schools and theaters; teach, work as policy analysts and research robotics; and become chefs, doctors, lawyers, therapists, accountants, politicians and pilots, among other professions.
  • What emergency services are available in case of illness or injury?
    The most current information about Health Services, including hours and staff, can be found at http://info.risd.edu/health-services/.

    If there is an emergency when Health Services is closed, students are instructed to call the Department of Public Safety (401 454-6376 or EMERGENCY: 401 454-6666), which is located within the first-year Residence Hall complex. A trained officer will then respond with treatment or arrange for transportation to an appropriate medical facility.
  • What is Providence like?

    Providence is a historic, arts-oriented city with several colleges, interesting architecture, diverse neighborhoods and a wide range of housing options. It’s small enough to be easy to navigate, but big enough to have a lot going on. Students can also attend events or cross-register for classes at neighboring Brown University. We’re an hour south of Boston and three hours north of New York City, with frequent bus and train service, so it’s relatively easy to get to one of these larger cities for exhibitions, concerts and other activities.

  • What is RISD’s connection to Brown University?

    RISD and Brown have adjacent campuses on Providence’s College Hill and students at either school may cross-register for classes at the other at no extra cost. RISD students typically turn to Brown for a broad array of foreign language and advanced science and math classes, all of which satisfy RISD’s liberal arts requirements. Students also have access to Brown’s extensive athletic facilities and can supplement activities available at RISD by attending concerts, lectures, theatrical performances and the like. In addition, the Brown|RISD Dual Degree program enables highly motivated undergrads to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree from RISD and a Bachelor of Arts (AB) from Brown in five years.

    See also: http://www.risd.edu/academics/brown-risd/.

  • What is the weather like in Providence?
    Providence’s climate is similar to much of the northeastern seaboard with warm summers, cold winters and fairly high humidity year-round. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean keeps Providence more moderate than many inland locales. January is the coldest month with a mean of 28.7 °F (−1.8 °C) and July is the warmest month with an average of 73.3 °F (22.9 °C), with highs rising to 90 °F (32 °C).

    For current weather conditions and forecasts, visit https://weather.com/weather/today/l/02906:4:US.
  • What kind of salaries do alumni earn after graduation?
    Salary levels vary based on occupation. Some alumni start their own businesses and earn less in their first year than their classmates who have chosen to work for larger corporations or firms, so an average starting salary would not be representative. However, RISD graduates consistently earn a higher average salary than the published average salary of liberal arts graduates in their first year out of college. RISD Careers maintains ongoing statistics about alumni careers.
  • What kind of security is present on campus?

    Working closely with both the Providence Police and Brown University Police departments, the Department of Public Safety shares in the responsibility for maintaining a safe community and a quality of life that supports the educational mission of the college. Officers patrol the campus on foot, bicycle and in distinctively marked cruisers, and provide service around the clock to the RISD community. The department is responsible for campus safety, security, parking, shuttle and escort.

    Emergency phones are located inside each building on campus, and outdoors near parking lots and some entrances, and connect directly to the Public Safety office. Academic buildings and residence halls are card-access only.

    From 7 pm - 12 am, the RISD Rides shuttle service operates on a loop every half hour. From 12am to 3:30am shuttles provide direct service from campus buildings to student residences within a designated service area in Downcity, College Hill and the East Side.

  • What percentage of graduates find jobs in creative fields?
    Based on an annual survey conducted by RISD’s Career Center, 96% of alumni are employed one year after graduation. An additional four percent are enrolled in a full-time educational program to pursue an advanced degree. Of the employed alumni, approximately 70% are employed in positions directly related to their major and 25 percent are employed in positions indirectly related to their major. Statistics in this annual survey tend to be similar from year to year. For more information, contact the Career Center »
  • When is the best time to visit RISD?

    The Admissions Office runs information sessions for prospective students throughout the school year and summer. For specific dates and to make a reservation, visit the Admissions area of this website.

    There, you will also find information on getting to Providence, and options for where to stay during your visit. While you are here, we also suggest checking out the RISD Museum and numerous galleries on campus, many showing student work.

    At any time, you can also explore RISD's most prominent buildings and spaces on your smartphone. Download the iOS or Android app.

  • Where can I buy RISD merchandise?

    RISD merchandise such as clothing, mugs, etc. are available for sale at the RISD store. The store also carries a wide array of art and office supplies.

    risd|works is a retail store, gallery and design showroom that features curated collections and changing exhibitions of work by RISD alumni and faculty.

    For more about RISD’s stores, visit www.risd.edu/Students/Our_Stores.

  • Where can I learn about opportunities for financial aid?
    The Student Financial Services Office (SFS) helps families in need of financial assistance to meet the costs of a RISD education to find the necessary combination of aid. By helping students to identify appropriate grants, loans, work study programs and scholarships, the office works to make it possible for all admitted students to benefit from attending RISD.
  • Where can students ship packages back home?

    Domestic or international packages can be sent using the following services:
    United States Postal Service (nearest post office locations)
    United Parcel Service (find nearest UPS locations)
    Federal Express (find nearest FedEx locations)
    DHL (find nearest DHL locations)

    International packages can also be sent using the following services:
    International Sea and Air Shipping Corp.
    Directory of International Shipping Companies
    Federal Express International

  • Where do students buy art supplies?

    The risd:store carries a wide variety of art supplies; for example, silkscreening, printmaking and etching supplies, decorative paper, drawing paper, mounting boards, bookbinding supplies, and more. They also carry office supplies, film, video and photography supplies, textbooks and convenience items, as well as a large selection of RISD-imprinted clothing and gifts.

    The risd:store 3D stocks a wide variety of sculpture supplies as well as general hardware store items. For example, plywood, hardwood, plexi glass, glass and metal rod can be cut to size for next day pickup.

    For more about RISD's stores visit www.risd.edu/Students/Our_Stores.

  • Which companies tend to hire RISD graduates?

    RISD graduates pursue work in a wide variety of sectors, from freelance/entrepreneurial ventures to fine arts studios to commercial work. Each spring, more than 150 different companies come to campus to meet with students and review their portfolios. Companies that have recruited at RISD include: General Motors, Google, Harmonix, JC Penney, Morningstar, Novartis, Swarovski, Target, and many more. For a full list of companies that attended this year's portfolio reviews for each discipline, visit RISD's Career Center »

  • Who do I talk to about tuition/billing questions?
    Student Financial Services (SFS) maintains the tuition billing system for the full-time degree programs. This department also receives and records all tuition payments. Contact the Student Accounts division of SFS at 401 454-6445
  • Will RISD help my son/daughter find a job after graduation?
    Finding a job after graduation requires a combination of preparation and persistence. RISD Careers supports graduating students and interested alumni by providing an annual series of portfolio reviews, seminars, lectures and guest speakers from various art and design professions. These emphasize skills such as writing an effective resume, preparing a professional portfolio and handling an interview. Some of the other topics covered include contracts and copyrights, grant writing and financial management. Other resources of the Career Center include ArtWorks, an online job listing service, and several computers with a library of bookmarked websites for artists and designers. RISD students may also meet with a career counselor for an individual appointment.

More FAQs and Facts

For more questions and answers, see these related FAQs.

Facts + Figures About RISD

General information about Rhode Island School of Design

Admissions FAQs
Info for prospective students

Financial Aid FAQs
Grants, loans, work study + more

Residence Life FAQs
Living in RISD residence halls

Policies + Disclosures
Forms and policies to assist students throughout their RISD experience

Academic Calendar


Graduates let loose at the close of RISD's colorful outdoor Commencement.