Rhode Island School of Design

Continuing Education

Certificate Programs: for creative lives and work
RISD has an unparalleled reputation for producing highly skilled, successful and internationally renowned creative practitioners. 
With more than 100 years of expertise nurturing ‘critical making, thinking and innovation’ and ‘applying the principles of art and design to the requirements of trade and manufacture’, RISD Continuing Education (RISD|CE) Certificate Programs are designed to facilitate personal and professional development, by engaging students in sustained exploration and learning in specific creative disciplines. 
These non-credit certificates are flexible to accommodate both your learning interests and schedule; robust by providing immersive, studio based learning that is current, relevant and integrally connected to creative sector development; and impactful - equipping students with skills, confidence, proficiency and (real world) experience to accelerate creative lives and work. 
Programs are led by diverse, expert faculty from academia, creative practice, entrepreneurship and industry, with professional connections to multiple sectors. With no entry requirements, learn with motivated peers to develop your portfolio, broaden existing skills, explore a new career path or life pursuit, or start your own business - and build the network that will help you do it. 
RISD|CE certificates offer an accessible, transformative and effective way to join a community of alumni who have accelerated their creative lives and work.

Certificates are available in the following disciplines:

Advertising Design (AD)  •  Animation + Video (AV)  •  Children's Book Illustration (CB)
  •  Digital Photography (DI)  •  Drawing + Painting Studies (DS)
Graphic Design (GR)  •  Interior Design (ID)  •  Jewelry + Light Metals (JM)
    Natural Science Illustration (NS)  •  Product Development + Manufacturing (PM)  •  Web + Interactive Design (WE)

For courses applicable to a particular certificate program, look for the two letter program code (in parentheses in the above list) in the "Applies to" statement at the end of the course description.

**Note: RISD Continuing Education is in the process of re-evaluating and updating our certificate programs. In the coming months, there will be some program and curriculum changes. For these reasons we will not be accepting new Adult Certificate candidates until Fall 2016. If you are interested in future enrollment in one of the certificate programs please complete this form indicating your interest and we will be in touch in Summer 2016 with more information. If you want to get a jump start on courses that would count toward a Certificate Program please contact the RISD|CE office at 401-454-6201 or cemail@risd.edu
  • Advertising Design Certificate

    Gale Litchfield, Certificate Advisor

    Marketing, promotion and persuasion are the objectives of the advertising professional; this certificate program teaches those core concepts and how they inform design practice. Students learn how to develop an advertising campaign and how to give it effective and media-specific form. The curriculum reflects the … Read More

  • Telling stories using the technology-rich vocabulary of film, animation and video gives one a unique opportunity to express a creative vision. This certificate program provides students with a fast-paced curriculum designed to give novices access to the field, as well as training for forward-thinking professionals … Read More

  • Aspiring illustrators are introduced to the multi-faceted world of children's book design and illustration while surveying the creative, technical and business aspects of the illustration field. With an emphasis on process, students develop the skills in drawing, painting, writing, digital design, research and development they … Read More

  • Photography is both an art and a science, requiring both aesthetic and technical skills. This program addresses the need for photographers of all levels to stay technologically current and creatively relevant. With its broad instructional focus, the program is appropriate for both beginning and experienced … Read More

  • Within the context of a structured studio environment, students develop critical skills in drawing and painting while exploring the intimate relationship between the two. The curriculum provides a solid foundation in depicting the subject and its setting, while providing tools for experimentation and self-expression. Participants … Read More

  • The Graphic Design certificate program focuses on pragmatic problem solving through an emphasis on the design process. Students learn to effectively develop a piece from concept to delivery, as they study typography, image and image making methodologies, structure, systems and meaning – all in a … Read More

  • The Interior Design Certificate Program equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to create and implement all phases of an interior design. Courses address the creative aspects of the field as students develop the discipline and organizational skills that are the foundation of a … Read More

  • The Jewelry + Light Metals certificate program provides a broad-based introduction to and foundation in designing and making jewelry. Combining technical skills -- including digital -- with conceptual thinking, this focused program allows students to gain insight into and experience with making wearable works of … Read More

  • From Lady's Slipper Orchids to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, scientific illustrators must communicate accurate natural science information while applying artistic skills of design, drawing and painting. In this program, students develop the observational skills necessary for realistic depiction while honing artistic abilities to create visually powerful illustrations. … Read More

  • Product developers work to shape the world we live in and the experiences we have within it. They practice human-centered design through careful planning and creative thinking, and ultimately drive user satisfaction and business growth. The Product Development + Manufacturing certificate program teaches students to … Read More

  • This certificate program prepares students to enter, or stay current with, a complex and continually evolving field. Its programmatic objectives address technical functionality and design topics while acknowledging the electronic media professional's responsibilities to organize information, communicate clearly and consider and incorporate the user's needs. … Read More

  • Read MoreRead Less

    How does a certificate compare with a degree?

    A certificate program is not the same as a degree program, which here at RISD requires full-time study. Certificate programs address specific professional training needs of adult students, many of whom have college and professional experience but want to upgrade their skills or make a career change. Certificate program courses prepare students for work in their chosen fields, and part-time evening study allows people with career or family commitments to come back to school.

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    How quickly can I earn a certificate?

    Certificate programs generally take two to four years of part-time study to complete, depending on the certificate program and its specific requirements, as well as how you schedule courses. Students with a full course load take two courses in each of the Fall and Spring terms and one course in each of the winter and summer terms, for a maximum of six courses per academic year. (In rare circumstances you can take extra courses in Fall and Spring if you have no other pressing commitments and select your courses strategically. A meeting with the Academic Advisor or Certificate Advisor is strongly recommended in this case). Note: Appraisal Studies in Art + Antiques does not follow this scheduling model. Up to two courses may be waived in the Apparel Design, Hand Knitting Design and Jewelry + Light Metals programs; students in most other programs may waive up to four courses for previous academic or professional experience. Please refer to Certificate Programs Policies on the Certificate Programs Registration page.

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    I’ve been working in the field and think that I’ve learned a lot of the things your certificate program covers. How do I know what courses to take?

    You can petition to waive up to four courses for previous professional or academic experience (see previous paragraph). Make an appointment with the Certificate Advisor if necessary. If you are very advanced, you should just pick and choose the individual courses you need without enrolling in a program; you may still contact the Certificate Advisor or Academic Advisor for help with selecting the appropriate courses.

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    I would love to start the certificate program but I am not very good at drawing.

    People tend to think that a person is either “born with talent” or not, but drawing can be learned if the student is interested and motivated. Almost everyone feels a little intimidated about taking a drawing course, but the Drawing I teachers do not expect students to have any previous experience and are very patient and generous with their time.

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    I’m not sure which program to pursue.

    The first step is to read through each certificate program description. If you still have doubts, call the Academic Advisor, who can help you clarify your interests. You may like to take courses that count towards more than one program (such as Drawing I or Digital Tools for Print Design) for a few semesters before officially becoming a certificate candidate.