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About Us

The Rhode Island School of Design's (RISD's) Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD) is a progressive and dynamic center of inquiry and practice, where faculty and student work involves a high level of engagement with communities beyond the boundaries of the college. The department is committed to providing its graduate students with programming that links academic study direct with practice sites. This emphasis allows students to both explore and contribute to the development of new practices in art and design teaching across an arts learning continuum, which spans kindergarten to university and, indeed, beyond.

Paul Sproll, Head, Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design from RISDTLAD on Vimeo.

 Graduate students in RISD's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and Master of Arts in Art + Design Education experience immersive one-year practice-based programs centered on the establishment of a pedagogical foundation that will frame their lives as educators. At the core of both of these degree programs is a guiding philosophy that learning in and through art and design, especially for children and youth, irrespective of educational contexts, provides extraordinary opportunities for making meaning and meaning making.

The hybrid nature of the department's work and its location within RISD's Division of Graduate Studies provides its students with unique sets of opportunities across its degree programs, service-learning programming, collegiate teaching courses, and funded outreach initiatives. These opportunities make optimal use of RISD's extraordinary resource particularly its studio and liberal arts faculty, and, of course, the RISD Museum.

Degree Programs:

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) 1-Yr

RISD's MAT is an intensive full-time (summer through spring) cohort teacher preparation program for artists and designers that culminates in recommendation for K-12 teacher certification. The department seeks candidates for its MAT program who have a passion for art and design, a commitment to the empowerment of children and youth, and who wish to be fully engaged as artist/designer-teachers in the transformation of art education in K-12 schools. The slideshow below showcases examples of MAT candidates' studio practice.


The program’s design is reflective of the department’s commitment to an inquiry-based approach to K-12 art and design education – an approach that puts ideas at the core of teaching. RISD’s MAT program is designed not only to prepare its candidates to be accomplished visual arts educators, but also to be articulate advocates for the role of art and design in K-12 education. 

RISD's MAT program involves key partnerships with elementary and secondary public schools and has been designed to enable its students to come to understand educational theory through direct experience in a rich variety of authentic teaching situations. These include an urban charter school, and out-of-school time programs for teens at RISD and in partner high schools. In the MAT program’s final semester, students are assigned to two 6-week, full-time student teaching experiences, one in an elementary public school and the other in a public high school. The program culminates in a multi-component degree project that includes an interpretive exhibition and the submission of print and electronic portfolios documenting a candidate’s instructional design and teaching practice.

Download PDF: MAT Curriculum

Master of Arts in Art + Design Education (MA) 1-Yr

RISD's MA in Art + Design Education offers candidates the choice of two possible tracks of study - Community Arts Education and Professional Development for visual arts educators possessing a minimum of 3-years of teaching experience. However, the Department of Teaching + Learning in Art has increasingly recognize the importance of its MA, while permitting specialization, providing its candidates with programming opportunities to view their particular interest within the broader landscape of arts learning. We, therefore, encourage our candidates not to see their futures limited by the walls of the school, museum, or community center as arts learning occurs increasingly across such educational frames. It is, therefore, we believe, to the placement advantage of our MA graduates if they embrace a broader, as opposed to an institution specific, view of themselves as educators prepared to work, if necessary, across traditional boundaries of places of learning.

Community Arts Education Track

The Community Arts Education track of the MA in Art + Design Education is designed to provide a professional qualification for the teaching artist or designer who sees a career in the expanding field of arts learning in community-based arts centers and organizations and in out-of-school time programming. RISD’s practice-based program has a particular focus on underserved urban youth and utilizes a unique partnership with Project Open Door, RISD’s college access program from teens for under-resourced backgrounds, as an academic lab and demonstration project for graduate students exploring community arts education.

Candidates entering this track are interested in connecting their creative and studio practice to the public domain and in acquiring the foundational knowledge and skills in educational theory and pedagogy that will support future professional practice in community based contexts.

 In addition to the MA program’s set of core courses, and credit-bearing internships during fall and spring semesters in Project Open Door, students in this track pursue a professional practice internships during the Winter term, which take place in one of a number of community arts organizations or agencies in Providence or in surrounding communities. These include AS220 Youth Studio, New Urban Arts, RiverzEdge Arts Project, and CityArts. Additionally, studies include studio, graduate seminars, and liberal arts. The selection is dependent on personal interests and requirements specified for the track.

Download PDF: Community Arts Education Curriculum


Professional Development Track

This MA track will be of particular interest to art teachers from public or independent schools and who have a minimum of 2-3 years of teaching experience who are seeking an opportunity for professional renewal:  to become more informed of contemporary approaches to art and design education, to develop their studio practice, and to expand horizons in terms of a pedaogy for arts learning more particulary in formal K-12 school contexts.

The professional development track of the MA provides elementary and secondary school art teachers with a program of advanced study that could form a basis for career advancement in administration, supervision, or perhaps future study at the doctoral level.  

The Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design will consider applications from qualified international visual arts educators wishing to enroll in this MA track. It is likely that such international applicants are seeking a program of study that provides opportunities to develop an understanding of contemporary approaches to American art teaching and learning, which might inform their teaching practice and curriculum design in their home countries. 

 In addition to the MA program’s set of core courses, a professional development candidate's program of study may include studio, graduate seminars, and liberal arts. The selection is dependent on personal interests and requirements specified for the track.

Download PDF: Professional Development Curriculum