Rhode Island School of Design

Administration building Rhode Island School of Design
Administration building Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a private art and design school in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1877 and now offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes in 19 different fields. It is affiliated with Brown University, with which it shares a College Hill campus.


The RISD campus is next to the Brown University campus and is situated at College Hill’s base. The two universities offer a joint degree programme, which shares social, academic, and community services. Students can cross-register for courses.

181 full-time and 421 part-time faculty members and 2,009 undergraduate and 492 graduate students make up the RISD population.  Nearly 30,000 people have graduated from the school.

For admission applications submitted in the fall of 2020, RISD’s acceptance rate was 26%.

Founding of the School

Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf’s visit to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 is credited with establishing the Rhode Island School of Design. Metcalf went to the Women’s Pavilion at the exposition. The pavilion, which was organised by the “Centennial Women,” featured the work of female entrepreneurs, artists, and designers. Metcalf’s visit to the pavilion had a profound influence on her. It inspired her to discuss a gap in design education for women.

Following the exhibition, the Centennial Women’s RI committee was left with $1,675 in funds; the party spent some time debating how best to use the surplus. Metcalf convinced the community to use the funds to start a coeducational design school in Providence. A majority of the women on the committee voted in favour of Metcalf’s resolution on January 11, 1877.

First years

The school first opened its doors in Providence in October of 1877. The first class had 43 students, with the majority of them being female.

RISD was housed in a suite of six rooms on the fourth floor of the Hoppin Homestead Building in Downtown Providence for the first 15 years of its life. The school dedicated a new brick building at 11 Waterman Street on College Hill on October 24, 1893. This structure, designed by Hoppin, Reid & Hoppin, served as the school’s first permanent home.


Wikipedia contributors. (2021, March 27). Rhode Island School of Design. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:36, March 30, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rhode_Island_School_of_Design&oldid=1014563936

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