Rhode Island School of Design
Providence, RI, USA

About Global Exchange

Global Exchange is for RISD students who wish to study for one semester at a partner school around the world.

RISD partners with many leading art and design colleges and universities around the world to offer the semester-long Global Exchange Program for RISD students. While on Global Exchange you will opt to leave the familiar behind and plunge into the unknown, inhabiting the life of an art and design student at one of our partner institutions around the world for one semester in your junior or senior year. Global Exchange is an opportunity for you to engage in an off-campus semester with other students from your discipline, while understanding it from a completely different cultural and academic perspective. Best suited for mature and independent students who seek an immersive cultural experience, Global Exchange gives you the freedom to explore, absorb, and create on your own terms in a cross-cultural context.

The Global Exchange Fall 2024 application will close on on March 1, 2024 at 11:59 PM. Applications must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered.


1 Semester Only (Fall/Spring)

Varies per Exchange School, may include Wintersession.

Open to RISD students

Juniors + Seniors. Minimum 3.0+ GPA required.

Application Deadline
The Global Exchange Fall 2024 application will close on on March 1, 2024 at 11:59 PM. Applications must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered.

The scholarship application is embedded in the outgoing Global Exchange application. To be considered for a RISD Global Travel Scholarship you must submit your application by March 1, 2024.

Academic Credits
12+ RISD credits equivalent
Instruction Language
  • Varies per Exchange School

Global Exchange

On Global Exchange you'll take the equivalent of 12+ RISD credits, that must be pre-approved by your department. You will immerse yourself in the local aesthetic and learn from the craftsmanship honed in that region under the guidance of local faculty. The rest of your time is yours to fill, visiting museums and galleries, wandering the streets with a sketchbook, exploring your host city's rich historical and contemporary arts scene, traveling to nearby cities, and participating in campus events. Many students even take time to intern or volunteer at local studios and arts organizations, which can be coordinated for credit through RISD Careers.

Upon your return, a new evolution of your thought and practice, sparked by your Global Exchange experience, will fuel your work in the studio and your perspective in crit going into your final semesters at RISD.

Partner Institutions

RISD partners with many leading art and design institutions around the world for Global Exchange. Exchange agreements are determined for each college/university by department, to best suit the shared academic requirements and curriculum objectives of both RISD and the host institution.

Apply for Global Exchange

The entire application process will be completed using an online application portal. Apply the semester before you plan to attend.

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About Exchange + FAQ

Is Exchange right for me?

Exchange is a great opportunity for you to continue to gain expertise within your discipline, while understanding it from a different - yet specific - cultural context and perspective. Because you will travel to your exchange partner school independently, not with a group, exchange is best suited for mature and self-sufficient students who seek an immersive and highly independent cultural experience.

What courses and credits does Exchange offer?

As an exchange student, you'll enroll in the equivalent of 12-15 RISD credits at your chosen partner school. If your exchange period overlaps with Wintersession, you are responsible for covering any required Wintersession credits during your exchange semester.

Every partner school designs their course plans for exchange students a little differently and available courses will vary per partner school. Some will have set courses reserved specifically for visiting students while others may allow you to enroll in any course you choose. Research your options carefully before applying so that you can ensure the credits earned on Exchange will work for your academic plan at RISD. Learn more about available schools and the courses they offer – Partner Schools

Is there a limit on how many credits I can transfer back to RISD?

RISD students attending RISD Global Exchange are considered enrolled at RISD and credits taken on Global Exchange (typically 12-15) do not count towards the 12 credit transfer limitation for regular transfer of credits from institutions outside RISD. Learn more – RISD Transfer Credit Policy

Who teaches Exchange courses?

On Global Exchange you’ll take courses with local faculty members employed at the partner school.

Do I earn RISD credit while on Exchange?

While on Global Exchange you’ll maintain your full enrollment at RISD while attending a partner school. Upon your acceptance to the host institution, RISD Global will guide you in completing the mandatory Learning Agreement for credit transfer. Before you leave and upon your arrival you will work with your RISD department to approve the courses you want to take for transfer. All studio courses will need pre-approval from your Department Head and Academic Advisor. All Liberal Arts courses will need pre-approval from the Dean of Liberal Arts. RISD Registrar’s Office can assist you in determining the type of credit offered at your host institution and its equivalency to RISD credits.

Once you return home, your credit will be transferred to your RISD transcript. Your exchange credits will transfer as pass/fail and will not affect your RISD GPA.

Do I need to be fluent in the local language?

This varies greatly by partner. Check through the partner program pages to make sure you speak the language of instruction of your preferred partner school.

Can I do an internship?

Often, yes! This depends on your exchange schedule and calendar, as well as your immigration regulations for the country you’re traveling to. We recommend working with RISD Careers to find and register your internship for credit. It is your responsibility to understand the immigration requirements for participating in an internship in your destination country. RISD Global can help, upon request.

When does Exchange take place?

Academic calendars vary, sometimes greatly, in different countries. Check the academic calendar of your preferred partner school prior to applying, so that you fully understand in which months your exchange semester will occur.

The exchange semester replaces the corresponding semester at RISD, so if your exchange semester starts or ends mid-way through the RISD semester, you are not required to be on-campus at RISD for any part of that semester.

If your exchange semester (Spring or Fall) overlaps with part of, or the entire, Wintersession you should account for any required WS credits in your exchange semester course plan.

Can I extend my Exchange into a second semester?

No, extension of exchange semester is not possible.

How much does an Exchange semester cost?

While on Exchange, you will continue to pay tuition to RISD and continue to receive your regular financial aid package (if applicable). You will also be billed a one-time fee for travel health insurance. You will not be charged additional tuition by the partner school, however, some students choose to purchase student housing at the partner school. While on exchange you will cancel your RISD housing/dining plans (if applicable).

In addition, you will be responsible for the following out-of-pocket expenses (this list is estimated to assist you in budgeting for your time off-campus):

  • On or Off-campus Housing + Meals (accommodation/meal plan availability at partner school varies)
  • Flight to/from host country
  • Student Visa + Resident Permit (some nationalities are exempt)
  • Local travel/transportation
  • Supplies/Materials: you may choose to bring your art supplies and materials with you or to purchase them once on exchange. You will find that some materials will be cheaper, and others will be more expensive once in your destination. For packing guidelines on art supplies, visit the Transportation Security Authority (TSA).

Will I receive financial aid when I attend Exchange?

Your regular RISD Financial Aid package continues to apply during exchange (if applicable).

Is work study available?

No, work study is a US federal program for students and does not apply to institutions outside the US. Depending upon your nationality you will most likely not be eligible to work in your host country as a visiting student.

SFS Balance Payment Policy

Per Student Financial Services policy, RISD students who plan to travel on school-sponsored trips must first pay your student account balance in full. If your account has an outstanding balance you are ineligible for travel until full payment has been made and you may forfeit any funds already used to book travel arrangements.

Are scholarships available?

RISD Global partners with Student Financial Services and Institutional Advancement as well as the Office of Social Equity and Inclusion to offer limited need-based RISD Travel Scholarships for outgoing Global Exchange students. All RISD students are eligible to apply. The scholarship application is embedded within the course application. Learn more – Scholarship Opportunities.

Are other funding opportunities available?

Finding funding for off-campus global learning experiences can seem daunting, but persistence pays off! Explore this proven list of trusted sources for external scholarship funding for off-campus programs, beyond the scope of RISD’s Travel Scholarship Funding. You might also consider meeting with Student Financial Services to explore if you are eligible for alternate/private loans that can be applied to your Exchange semester.

Is Exchange right for me?

All RISD students entering junior or senior year or at a grad level are eligible. You must have a 3.0 GPA to apply. Learn more about Exchange eligibility – Apply for Global Exchange

How do I apply?

The application process will be completed using an online application portal. Learn more – Apply for Global Exchange

Off-Campus Programs Policy

As per RISD's Off-Campus Programs policy, all RISD Global Exchange students must remain in good standing, in terms of conduct and finances, up until and throughout your exchange semester. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the program, either before or during the exchange.

How does housing and dining work?

While on exchange you will arrange housing and dining independently, either at the partner school or within the local community. During your semester off-campus you will cancel your on-campus housing and dining contracts at RISD (if applicable).

How do I arrange my flight?

RISD Global Exchange is not a group-travel program you will be responsible for arranging your travel independently, but we can offer recommendations, if needed! You will be required to submit a copy of your roundtrip airline reservation prior to travel to RISD Global.

Do I need a passport?

Yes, you will require a valid passport that should not expire within 6 months of the return date from your exchange semester. Additional requirements may apply.

  • U.S. citizens: Check the Department of State website for application/renewal guidance.
  • Citizens of all other countries: Check your consulate/embassy’s website for renewal guidance. If you have an I-20 form, you must also ensure that you get it signed for travel by a member of theOffice of International Student Services (OISS) before departing the United States. If you are a Permanent Resident you should carry your green card together with your passport.

If you determine that your passport is not valid prior to travel, contact RISD Global immediately!

Do I need a visa?

This depends on your citizenship and the countries to which you are traveling to and through. Check your destination country’s consulate/embassy website for visa application guidance. You are responsible for maintaining your own legal status and applying for your visa (if applicable). Upon request, the partner school will provide you with an enrollment letter in support of the visa application upon your acceptance. RISD Global can also help, upon request.

Do I need health insurance?

Yes, travel health insurance offered by RISD Global’s preferred provider will be billed to you. This is supplementary coverage meant to complement, not replace, your standard health insurance coverage.

Will my phone work internationally?

It’s essential that you have a working phone with data throughout the duration of your Exchange semester. Check with your cell provider to ensure you can add an international plan to your coverage or replace your SIM card with a local (or international) SIM in advance or upon arrival.

How do I prepare for handling money internationally?

  1. Tell your bank your destination and travel dates.
  2. Get to know your bank’s policies for international transaction and exchange fees.
  3. Make sure you have a chipped debit or credit card, and request a pin for ATM withdrawals.
  4. Get to know the exchange rates for currency in your exchange location.
  5. Consider that many countries are more cash-based than the US, so you can't always rely on a debit card or credit card for small purchases. Make a plan for having local cash upon arrival.
  6. Always have a backup plan! Work with trusted family or friends to understand how you will access funds if you need them in an emergency.

How can I prepare for my physical/mental health while off-campus?

We recommend a physical checkup with your primary care provider prior to travel. If you take daily medications, request a refill with enough medication to last the duration of your trip. If you currently see a mental health professional on a regular basis, share your travel plans and brainstorm how you can maintain your mental health away from home. Once enrolled, you are eligible to contact our international travel health insurance provider in advance to explore local services in your course location and even make appointments and order prescriptions in advance. For further support, don’t hesitate to reach out to RISD Health and Wellness.

I am an international student. What should I think about prior to travel?

Be mindful that you may need a visa to visit the course location. Check the country’s consulate/ embassy website for visa application guidance. RISD Global can assist, upon request.

If you have an I-20 form, you must also ensure that you get it signed for travel by a member of the International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) before departing the United States. If you are a Permanent Resident you should carry your green card together with your passport. For further support, don’t hesitate to reach out to the International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA)

How do I submit required documents to RISD Global, once accepted?

You will continue to utilize the status page of your online application portal to complete tasks and uploads relevant to your participation in Exchange, such as important health and safety processes and your Learning Agreement form. You are responsible for checking the portal frequently and completing these tasks in a timely manner once accepted.

What are Pre-departure Meetings?

You will learn more about important preparation actions to be taken, such as travel arrangements, health and safety information, visa application, and the Learning Agreement form process at our mandatory pre-departure meetings. Meeting days, times, and locations will be communicated to you upon your acceptance.

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1:1 Advising Session

Have questions? The RISD Global team is available to meet for a 1:1 advising session. We can give you more information about your study options, help you figure out which program makes sense for you, and assist you with the application process.

Schedule an Appointment


Increasing financial aid is a central pillar of RISD’s equity, inclusion and diversity commitment. Through partnership with other campus offices, we are working to provide greater support and access to students interested in pursuing global learning experiences at RISD.

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Exchange at RISD for Visiting Students

Exchange at RISD is for students from our partnered institutions around the world, who wish to study for one semester at RISD in Providence, Rhode Island.

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