Apply for Global Exchange & AICAD

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

COVID-19 Update: Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, all RISD Global off-campus learning programs for Wintersession and Spring semesters 2021, including all RISD Exchange activities, are suspended. Read more in our announcement here.

Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA)
Tallinn, Estonia
Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA)
Tallinn, Estonia

How to Apply

Whether applying for exchange at one of our Global Exchange Schools or through AICAD, the entire application process is completed using an online application portal. You will upload, request and submit all required documents there.

Infosessions & Advising

Prior to applying we recommend that you attend an information session. We also recommend that you attend a 1:1 advising session with the RISD Global Learning Advisor.

You must also consult your Academic Advisor and Department Head to ensure that all required credits will be met prior to graduation. Approval from both faculty is required in order for the application to go forward.

Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, all RISD Global off-campus learning programs for Wintersession and Spring semesters 2021, including all RISD Exchange activities, are suspended. Read more in our announcement here.

Am I eligible?

You can attend an Exchange semester during your junior or senior year (or anytime if you are a grad). You must have a 3.0 GPA to apply.

Undergraduate students in four-year programs may participate during either their junior or senior year. Undergraduate students in five-year programs are encouraged to participate during their senior (fourth) year. Transfer students are eligible as long as they fulfill the residency requirement for graduation – contact the Registrars’ Office at registrar@risd.edu with any questions. Finally, you must remain in good standing at RISD, in terms of conduct and finances, up until and throughout your time on the program.

GPA Requirement: Exception to Academic Policy

Students seeking an exception to the GPA requirement academic policy should contact the Registrars’ Office at registrar@risd.edu with any questions.

Follow all steps outlined below to complete a successful Global Exchange Application!

Step 1: Research
Prior to starting your application, we recommend learning more about the program by attending an information session held on campus and/or scheduling a 1:1 advising session with the RISD Global Learning Advisor.

You may apply to one partner school at a time. Carefully research the partner schools you are interested in to make sure you find the best fit before applying. You are encouraged to select a first and second preference when you apply for Exchange. Please keep in mind that if you decide to give two preferences for partner schools you should verify that your second choice school deadline falls after your first, so it can be used as a backup if your first application is not successful.

When considering different partner schools, keep the following in mind:

  • Major + Location: Filter the Global Exchange Schools by department to see where you are eligible for exchange based upon your major. If you are interested in exchange at US or Canadian institutions you should visit the AICAD Exchange website.
  • Language: Check the language of instruction at your preferred partner school. If you don't speak the local language, check the availability of courses taught in English or another language that you speak.
  • Dates: Check the partner school's semester dates. Will you miss Wintersession? Will the exchange period include some of your summer months? Make sure you meet with an academic advisor to make sure you are on track to get the credits you need, considering the months you will be away from RISD's campus.
  • Courses: Does the partner school allow exchange students to choose any course offered that semester or do they utilize a set course system? This will help you understand if your course load at the partner school can satisfy your RISD credit requirements.

Step 2: Advisor/Department Head Approval
You will be asked to request your Advisor and Department Head’s approval through the online application portal, but it’s best to meet beforehand in person to discuss your intention to join the program and how your Exchange credits will complement your overall academic plan. Your Advisor and Department Head can also assist you in deciding which semester is best for students from your department to attend an off-campus semester on Exchange.

Step 3: Begin your online application to RISD Global

Applications are always submitted the semester before you plan to attend. Once you’re sure attending Exchange in the upcoming semester is right for you, read through the Application Materials list below, then open your online application on the Online Application Portal. In the portal you will find all required materials listed with instructions on how to submit each one. Carefully review all instructions before submitting, so you can ensure that your application will satisfy all requirements.

Step 4: Request Recommendations + Approvals

As soon as you open your application you should visit the References section and submit your requests for your Faculty Recommendation and Academic Advisor and Department Head approvals. Your faculty, Advisor, and Department Head need time to submit their approval/recommendation through the portal, so by completing this step right away, you’re ensuring they have as much time as possible to submit before the deadline. Don’t leave this step until the last minute! Don’t even leave it until the last week.

Because application deadlines are different for each school, you should send your faculty recommenders, advisor, and department head a quick message giving them a heads up on your deadline to submit.

Step 5: Upload all materials and submit

Once your recommendations and approvals are requested, take your time to thoughtfully prepare the rest of your application materials, outlined below. Take proactive steps to ensuring your materials are as strong as possible.

We recommend you visit the Center for Arts + Language to review your written materials with a peer tutor. They offer peer tutoring for all kinds of writing at any stage of the process including brainstorming ideas, outlining, drafting, restructuring, and practicing error correction. RISD Careers offers tips and examples for resume writing on their website.

Review the portfolio pieces you plan to submit with your Advisor or another trusted faculty member or friend. Having another set of eyes on your materials can help you see your application better from an outside perspective, strengthening your application as a whole package.

When everything is just how you want it, submit! You will begin to receive updates from RISD Global by email on the status of your application and the review process.

Step 6: Scholarship

You will notice that the application questions for the Global Exchange Travel Scholarship Funds are included as a part of your application. If you choose to answer these questions your application will be considered and your award decision will be included in your nomination decision letter.

You may also apply external (non-RISD) scholarship awards to your time on Global Exchange - this program qualifies for any scholarship awarded for “study abroad” as well as most scholarships awarded for undergraduate study, as you continue to pay your regular tuition to RISD. Visit the Scholarship page to learn more about recommended external scholarships. Begin your search now, as their deadlines may be fast approaching.

Step 7: Nomination

RISD Global can nomination two RISD applicants for exchange at each of our partner schools each semester. As long as your application is received on time, your application is approved by your department, and no more than two applications have been received for your first choice partner school, RISD Global can submit your nomination very quickly. You should receive an email that your application has been nominated - and that’s your cue to move on to the next step - submitting your materials to your first choice partner school.

If three or more applications are received by RISD Global for the same partner school, a lottery will be conducted to determine the two nominated applicants for that semester. If this occurs, you’ll be notified via email.

Please note: your application to the partner school is considered invalid without receipt of RISD Global’s nomination. This is a mandatory application requirement for all of our partner schools.


Step 8: Begin your application to the partner school

Once nominated, Global Exchange applicants may submit your application materials to the partner school, per their instructions. Typically these materials are the same materials required by RISD Global and require little, if any, tweaking before resubmission.

It is your sole responsibility to submit your application materials to the partner school. RISD Global will submit nomination only upon your behalf.

Once nominated, AICAD Applicants will apply through the AICAD Exchange website.

How do I get help preparing my application?

RISD Global holds several application prep sessions, check our events page for dates and times. You can also schedule a 1:1 advising session with RISD Global – we are happy to help! The Center for Arts and Language is also a great resource for help with your statement of purpose. You might also ask a trusted advisor or faculty to review your portfolio.

Are there students I can talk with about their experiences?

Throughout the pages on this website you’ll find quotes and testimonials from RISD students who have done Exchange. We also often host infosessions and in-person/virtual events (such as student panels, Instagram live Q&A, etc.) that feature program alumni voices. You are also more than welcome to schedule a 1:1 advising appointment with our Global Learning Advisor who can connect you with returned exchange alumni who have agreed to share their experiences.

Whether applying for Global Exchange or AICAD Exchange, you will first submit all of your application materials, listed below, to RISD Global through our Online Application Portal:

Statement of purpose (max 500 words) This written statement prepared as if submitting to the partner school should be a concise and thoughtful discussion of how the proposed program of study at the partner school would benefit your artistic development and educational/career goals. Your essay should be tailored to your chosen partner school, just like an admissions essay, and should address the following:

  • Why you are a strong candidate for Global Exchange at their institution, based upon your academic performance, approach to art/design, and interest in the local cultural context
  • How you imagine your participation in Global Exchange will benefit your classmates and the host institution
  • Your interest in working within the cultural and historical/contemporary context of your destination city
  • Your ability to succeed within new and flexible studio environments, with site-specific resources

Portfolio A selection of 10-15 images of your work (JPEG, PDF, video files, or website links are accepted). The pieces you select should reflect your strongest, most recent major and non major-related, academic and/or personal work, as well as projects you would like to pursue or expand upon once on Exchange. Include titles, descriptions, and descriptive text for each portfolio piece in the appropriate spaces provided.

Approval from Department Head + Academic Advisor (requested and sent through Reference section). If your Department Head and Academic Advisor are the same person, both approvals will be sent as one.

One Faculty Letter of Recommendation (requested and sent through Reference section). Must be provided by a RISD faculty member who has instructed you within the last calendar year.

Resume/CV A place to showcase relevant work/volunteer/internship opportunities, your skillset, foreign language proficiency, and other interests or areas of expertise. We advise you to research the standard format for resumes/CVs in the region of the world in which you are applying.

Unofficial Transcript PDF downloaded from WebAdvisor.

What is the deadline to submit?

Application deadlines are rolling throughout the Fall and Spring. On the page for each Global Exchange School you will find two deadlines for each, as there are two parts to the Global Exchange application process: RISD Global Application + Host School Application.

  • The first deadline is the day your application for Global Exchange is due to RISD Global. Once your application is complete and deemed eligible, RISD Global will send a nomination letter on your behalf to your first choice host school.
  • The second deadline is the day your nomination and application for Global Exchange is due to the Global Exchange School. You are responsible for submitting the required application materials to RISD Global and to the Exchange School by the stated deadlines.

Note: AICAD Schools have a separate application with its own deadline.

How is selection done, and who makes it?

RISD Global will review your application and ensure it is approved by your academic department. Once this step is complete, we will nominate your application to the partner school. If nominated, you may apply directly to the partner school and they will make the final selection.

Scholarship application review and selection is completed by Student Financial Services, and is kept completely separate from the academic review and selection process.

How many students apply? How many get in?

Selection is based on space available and the quality of your application. RISD can nominate two RISD applicants to each partner school per semester. In the event that three or more applications are received by RISD Global for the same partner school, a lottery will be conducted to determine the two nominated applicants for that semester. If this occurs, you’ll be notified via email.

Our two nominated applicants enter the pool with all nominated students from that school’s partners. Total number of applicants and spaces available vary greatly per partner school. Most applicants who thoughtfully prepare their applications do get in.

Will there be a waiting list?

RISD may not nominate more than two RISD applicants per semester to each partner school. Should more than three students apply, there will be a lottery selection to determine nomination.

Typically there is not a formal waitlist for Exchange admission. Applicants will be notified if their applications are approved or rejected by the partner school directly.

If I’m waitlisted or rejected, and I want to reapply, do I have to complete a new application?

If you are waitlisted or rejected by your first choice partner school RISD Global will happily nominate you to your second choice partner school if their deadline has not passed. If the deadline has passed or you do not have a second choice and would like to apply again for the following semester, you will have to complete a new application.

Once accepted, can I defer or withdraw?

Deferral is not possible, but you may reapply the following semester if you are unable to confirm your acceptance. Read the “Withdrawing from a RISD Off-Campus Global Learning Program” policy to learn more about withdrawal after your acceptance.

Once accepted, can I extend Exchange into a second semester?

No, extension of exchange semester is not possible.

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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

Next Steps for Accepted Students

Once you confirm your acceptance to Global Exchange, RISD Global will guide you through the pre-departure processes. These processes include:

Don’t have a Passport?

US Citizens can visit travel.state.gov to apply.

Passport expired or will expire shortly?
Begin the renewal process immediately! US Citizens can visit travel.state.gov to renew. International Citizens, contact your local embassy or consulate to renew.

Don’t delay the process of checking your travel documents for validity. The visa application process is time consuming and has a very tight turnaround following your acceptance. Your failure to possess valid travel documents may jeopardize your ability to participate in Global Exchange.

It is important to begin the process of obtaining a visa as soon as you have confirmed your participation in Global Exchange as it may take in excess of 4-8 weeks to obtain all of the proper documentation for a student visa.

Costs of visas vary from country to country, so please check with your partner school or the embassy/consulate for specific details. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to secure the correct visa in time for your program start date. Your host school should give you instructions and documentation for the appropriate visa for which to apply. RISD Global can offer general guidance on this process.

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 Global and the 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.

You are responsible for checking the portal frequently and completing these tasks in a timely manner once accepted to Global Exchange.

Scholarships

Increasing financial aid is a central pillar of RISD’s equity, inclusion and diversity commitment. With income inequality and student debt at unprecedented heights, we are working to provide greater support and access to students interested in pursuing learning experiences through RISD Global.

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