Experiential Learning


In the College of Art and Design, there are countless opportunities to extend your educational experience outside classrooms and studios. Through cooperative education and internships, international experiences, multidisciplinary projects, industry partnerships and more, we support your individual growth as an artist. By going beyond the classroom, we afford opportunities to apply your skills and knowledge to real-world problems, in real-world settings — all the while preparing you for life after RIT.


Students Photographing Statues

Today’s top employers are looking for ambitious graduates who have professional work experience in addition to a quality academic background. RIT’s cooperative education and internship programs allow you to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations, where you will solve real-world problems. Co-op is not required for students in the College of Art and Design, but it’s an option that many take advantage of to gain meaningful work experience and earn a salary to help offset college expenses. Since the summer of 2013, more than 1,350 College of Art and Design students have completed co-ops at companies such as Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Dolby, DreamWorks Animation, and Google. Learn more by visiting RIT's Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education website.

How to get involved

Make an appointment to discuss co-op and internship opportunities by calling (585) 475-2301 or find your assigned career services coordinator or career counselor and contact them.

Study Abroad

Photo Students in Ireland

There’s no better way to gain an understanding of another culture than to experience it firsthand. To prepare you for success in our global society, RIT offers a range of exciting study abroad opportunities. You can immerse yourself in another culture through our study abroad programs offered in cooperation with Queens University (England), University of Osnabruck (Germany), or Kanazawa Institute of Technology (Japan). In programs affiliated with other institutions, RIT students also have the opportunity to study in China, Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, Australia, Kenya, New Zealand, Germany, Greece, and other international locations. You may also choose to study at one of RIT’s global campuses in Croatia, Dubai, or Kosovo.

How to get involved

Visit here for guidance on the planning steps for your study abroad experience.

Recent trips

Recent College of Art and Design faculty-led study abroad courses include Art History in Florence, Italy; Fashion Photography in Toronto; and Documentary Projects in Kosovo.

International Experiences

Masahiro Sasaki Glass Demonstration

In the fall of 2017, College of Art and Design students went on an enlightening research trip to Honduras to further develop projects related to an RIT initiative aimed at bringing healthcare improvements to the Central American country. It’s one of countless demonstrations of the college’s commitment to providing students with the resources necessary for an unparalleled education. Other international opportunities that enhance coursework and facilitate career success include:


The college has had eight prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program award recipients, allowing each to study, research, or teach abroad.


Led by our dedicated faculty, students in various programs travel to international conferences and events for development opportunities.


College of Art and Design students sometimes don’t need to travel outside of RIT’s walls to receive an international experience. Visiting artists from all over the world frequent our classrooms for lectures and demonstrations.

Student Research

Lecture in the Cary Collection

RIT’s archives play the relevant role of being dynamic and didactic research and educations tools. Students — in addition to teachers and researchers from around the world — have access to an abundance of original resource materials housed in RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection (above) and Vignelli Center for Design Studies. Combined, the centers hold over 85 collections of prominent designers’ work, all available to enhance the student experience.

Partnerships with Industry

A group of Industrial Design students

Many of our programs have established working relationships with companies in various industries in support of coursework. Two examples of students working closely with industry partners come from RIT Industrial Design courses — Metaproject at the undergraduate level and Activating the Archives at the graduate level.


The Industrial Design BFA program’s Metaproject design studio course sees students partner with a different company every year to design a product or experience that solves a specific problem or works within parameters set by the industry partner. Students then showcase their work from the class to a vast audience during NYCxDESIGN, New York City's annual celebration of design that attracts hundreds of thousands from across the globe.

The engineered surfaces company was the Metaproject 01 sponsor. Each student was required to conceive seating prototypes celebrating Wilsonart’s laminate materials.

Website: https://www.wilsonart.com

CMoG was the Metaproject 02 sponsor. Students explored concepts using glass with the world-renowned museum. RIT’s partnership with CMoG extends to the annual GlassLab Design Fellowship, sponsored by the museum. It grants a graduating BFA senior or graduate student a distinctive two-day experience working with CMoG glassblowers.

Website: https://www.cmog.org

The avant-garde accessories manufacturer was the Metaproject 03 sponsor. Students were challenged to explore the properties of wood as a primary material in object construction.

Website: https://www.areaware.com

The well-known furniture company was the Metaproject 04 sponsor. This iteration focused on designing for the workplace and how furnishings and space empower interactions.

Website: https://www.hermanmiller.com

Kikkerland was one of two sponsors of Metaproject 05 — for which students designed for home and dorm room storage.

Website: https://kikkerland.com

The national retail chain that specializes in home furnishings was one of two sponsors of Metaproject 05.

Website: https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com

The office supplies manufacturer was the Metaproject 06 sponsor. Students created innovative accessories for the company’s new line of office furniture that accented or improved their use.

Website: http://www.poppin.com

The Toronto-based designer and manufacturer of housewares was the Metaproject 07 sponsor. Versatile designs for compact living resulted from this collaboration.

Website: http://www.umbra.com

The downtown Rochester hotspot was the Metaproject 08 sponsor. Students teamed up for this iteration, designing a pop-up restaurant within a restaurant, giving patrons a unique, four-course experience.

Website: http://restaurantgoodluck.com

The nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street was the Metaproject 09 sponsor. The “Urgency of Play” theme called on students to make a modern Sesame Street product for play.

Website: http://www.sesameworkshop.org

Activating the Archives

Students at the graduate level work with an industry partner to address real-world design challenges, with the possibility of their prototypes going into production.

The outdoor furniture company that manufactures its products from recycled plastic was an Activating the Archives course partner. One of the student projects was commercialized and is still in Loll’s catalog.

Website: https://lolldesigns.com

The furniture company was the Activating the Archives sponsor in spring 2018, allowing students to experiment with its Bassline table and create different tops for it.  Steelcase then hosted students, faculty, and alumni at its New York City headquarters during Design Week for a showcase of the final products.

Website: https://www.steelcase.com


Students work together in the studio

RIT students exemplify their strengths of creating and innovating at the intersection of art, design, and technology through interdisciplinary collaborations to solve real-world problems. Several examples of RIT programs that bring together multidisciplinary teams of students with client organizations are IdeaLab, Studio 930, and the Effective Access Technology Conference. These initiatives often lead to the creation of prototypes for client organizations or the launch of startup companies. Students from various disciplines including design, engineering, business, and computing collaborate to find technological solutions to problems facing Rochester-area organizations and companies. These student teams use design thinking methodology and a human-centered approach to innovation that considers user needs, technological possibilities and business requirements.


IdeaLab is a bi-annual event that brings together faculty coaches and students to work collaboratively over the course of a weekend on a client organization’s real-world challenges. Clients include Rochester Regional Health patients and health care personnel, the Al Sigl Community of Agencies, and the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI). After the weekend concludes, many students continue to work on the projects and receive course credit and funding from RIT’s Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

A transfer lift for adaptive ski programs developed by industrial design students is an example of how an idea evolved into the design and development of technology to solve a real-world problem. David Villarreal, an MFA industrial design major, and Ana Sorensen, a BFA industrial design major, were part of a multidisciplinary student team at an IdeaLab weekend. They brainstormed ideas of creating a transfer lift for adaptive ski programs after identifying issues with the current methods available for skiers with impaired leg movement looking to go from a wheelchair to a sit ski, and vice versa. Following the IdeaLab weekend, Villarreal and Sorensen obtained funding from the Simone Center to continue developing their ideas. The two then presented their transfer lift concept at the April 2017 Effective Access Technology Conference. Their system is currently undergoing user testing. Once it’s completed, Swain Ski Resort plans to use the lift during the 2018-19 ski season.

Studio 930

Studio 930 is a multidisciplinary studio experience focusing on the design and production of healthcare technology products. Studio 930 was founded in 2015 by Stan Rickel, associate professor of industrial design and graduate director of the MS degree program in integrative design. The Simone Center, together with the College of Art and Design, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, College of Engineering Technology and Saunders College of Business, gives students the opportunity to work together on projects.

Beyond the Classroom

Bevier Gallery Reception

Students across all College of Art and Design programs have many outside-the-classroom opportunities to build on what they learn inside it. The value of them is epitomized by the industrial design (BFA) program’s Metaproject design studio course, which sees students showcase their work from the class to a vast audience annually at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City.

Through the college’s various gallery spaces, students also have the chance to display their coursework in exhibitions and develop ways to share, promote, and curate their output. Additionally, the galleries offer student employment opportunities that instill art gallery management and curation skills. 

Other platforms for students to apply their education include different centers and departments with a student-employee model and the organization of the annual Thought At Work design conference.