Grad Written Thesis

All graduate students at RISD write, design, and produce a Master’s thesis book — a lasting record of their work, process, research, and ideas. While the criteria for the written thesis vary from department to department, most theses describe and illustrate the student’s thesis project or body of work. Some include additional projects or pieces made throughout the graduate program at RISD. Most place the work in historical, theoretical, cultural, and/or personal context. Some are scholarly, some practical, some poetic. The variety of thesis approaches reflects RISD’s variety of disciplines, their related professional practices and traditions, departmental standards, and the distinct interests and intentions of the thesis writer.

The Master’s written thesis is, for many, a rewarding experience of discovery that clarifies, crystallizes, expands, and articulates the process and outcomes of graduate work. Placed in the Fleet Library and on the Digital Commons and consulted often by other students and scholars, the thesis is also an important contribution to research and scholarship.

A&L offers a variety of resources to support grad students in preparation for and throughout this long-term research and writing process, including:

– Dedicated faculty mentors (Anne West all year and Emily Cornell du Houx in spring) offering weekly or biweekly appointments (contact Meredith Barrett at ( or one-time visits
Thesis writing workshops (Thursday nights this fall)
– Peer tutoring at any stage of the thesis writing process
– Thesis book design consultation
– A PDF of the Master’s Written Thesis Handbook (e-mail us to request)
– A file of all departments’ written thesis guidelines
– An annual list of copy editors available for hire (see handouts page)
– A book featuring exemplary theses annotated to highlight their unique features (coming soon; see excerpt here)