Experiential Learning

Overview

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.

Cooperative Education

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 (co-op) and internship programs allow you to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations. 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. Our students have completed co-ops at companies such as Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Dolby, DreamWorks Animation, Google and many more. Learn more by visiting RIT's Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education.

Co-op Experiences

A composite image of Ashley Mastin next to a DNA illustration of hers.

Ashley Mastin

Ashley Mastin ’21 (Medical Illustration) was a scientific illustrator for the Center for BioMedical Visualization at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. She credits the co-op experience with helping her land a full-time job as a scientific illustrator for Science magazine.

"It is important to have a strong portfolio, but that extra experience of a co-op really pushes your competitiveness as a new artist entering the field," Mastin said.

Isha Mehta stands for a portrait in Dixon Schwabl.

Isha Mehta

Isha Mehta '20 (Graphic Design) credits professional experiences at various agencies and companies with preparing her for a design career. While at RIT, Mehta completed a co-op as a junior art director at Rochester ad agency Dixon Schwabl and fulfilled design internships at The Cause Collaborative, LeChase Construction and Waldinger Creative.

“I wouldn't be the professional I am today if I hadn’t started early on with my co-ops and internships," Mehta said.

Will McCloskey poses for a photo in front of a window and a piano.

Will McCloskey

During his time at RIT, Will McCloskey ’21 (New Media Design) became a co-op veteran. He executed design co-ops at Two Bulls and Instrument in consecutive summers, leading to a junior design position at Instrument after gradation.

“Team experience is, in my opinion, by far the most important aspect to further learn and expand on your school experience,” McCloskey said. “Being able to generate assets and ideas alone is a very powerful tool, but being able to effectively do that with others, and to work through real-world projects, drastically helps your ability to do more of that in the future." 

A portrait of Simon Yan set against a colorful background.

Simon Yahn

Simon Yahn '22 (Motion Picture Science) spent the spring of 2021 on co-op with MAGIC Spell Studios, chronicling RIT's build out of a curriculum in virtual production, an emerging filmmaking method only a few universities around the world are working with.

“There really is unlimited potential there,” Yahn said of MAGIC Spell Studios, a state-of-the-art facility where game designers, programmers, filmmakers and animators collaborate to build entertainment and interactive experiences. “I’ve had experiences that people in Los Angeles would be jealous of.”

Kibaek Sun works as a silversmith.

Kibaek Sung

Instead of having breakfast at Tiffany’s, Kibaek Sung ’19 MFA (Metals and Jewelry Design) worked with the chefs in the jewelry-crafting kitchen during a co-op with world-renowned luxury jewelry company Tiffany & Co. As a silversmith, he helped craft trophies for major U.S. sports leagues, including the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the NBA Finals.

A portrait of Gabe Cagera sitting in a lab on campus.

Gabe Cagera

Gabe Cagera ’20 (New Media Design) completed a co-op in the summer of 2019 at Google, where he created a new user experience for the YouTube music app. 

“I was encouraged to seek out a work experience because I wanted to see what the real world of my field is like,” Cagera said.


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.


Creative Industry Day

RIT's Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education also sponsors the annual Creative Industry Day — a professional networking event that allows students to meet with companies like Adobe, Blue Sky Studios and Google. The event has directly led to job and co-op opportunities

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 a global society, RIT offers a range of exciting study abroad opportunities. You can immerse yourself in another culture and find inspiration in a new environment through study abroad programs led by College of Art and Design faculty, at RIT’s exchange universities in Dessau, Germany, or Kanazawa, Japan, or with one of RIT’s affiliate partners in countries known for their art, design and architecture. Locations for affiliate programs include Australia, Denmark, England, Germany, Italy and more. You may also choose to study at one of RIT’s global campuses in Croatia, Dubai or Kosovo.


Programs

Past College of Art and Design student study abroad experiences include:

  • Working at an international animation festival in Kosovo
  • Gaining inspiration at Art Biennale in Venice, Italy
  • Examining the evolution of typography in Northern Italy
  • Photographing the landscape, architecture and people of Cuba
  • Creating an interactive art installation in Paris

Finding a Program

RIT has more than 600 study abroad programs in 60 countries for as short as one week and as long as a full year. Programs offer a variety of locations, course offerings and costs. Planning early, discussing plans with your academic advisor and working with a study abroad advisor to find a good program fit will set you on the path to have a memorable experience while staying on track to graduate. Start exploring programs in the study abroad Compass.

More about study abroad for College of Art and Design students

Study Abroad Experiences

Two students at Dubai Maker Faire

Research

Frank Barletta '19 (Industrial Design) and Hannah Giancola '19 (Industrial Design) presented projects that address hygiene issues in rural Uganda at the 2019 Maker Faire Dubai as part of an RIT Global International Research program.

"We can't emphasize enough how much this opportunity has influenced our worldly views on design and culture. We hope that more experiences like this present themselves for future students."

Learn More about the RIT student showcase innovation make faire in Dubai

Students with a turtle on the Galapagos Islands

Faculty-led Program

Diana Spencer '22 (Photojournalism) spent a semester on Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands through the Galapagos: Evolution and Ecology faculty-led program. Students learn about the volcanic origin of the islands and the unique animals and plants that inhabit it. 

“Before my study abroad experience, I had never been on a plane, nevertheless out of the country,” Spencer said. “It was a completely eye-opening experience for me. I suddenly realized how small the world could be, how accessible world travel was. In addition, I saw for the first time how others lived and what nature looks like when left untouched by humans. The Galapagos in particular is a place unlike any other in the world, where nature exists quite literally at your fingertips. I highly recommend traveling to the Galapagos, but more generally travelling with RIT Study Abroad. The department takes good care of their students and walks them through their journeys step-by-step, from the application process to discussions and workshops once they return.”

Real-world Experiences

There are countless examples of our students engaging in future-focused opportunities that enhance their coursework and facilitate career success. The RIT resources that contribute to an unparalleled education include high-value networking opportunities, multidisciplinary projects, access to over 300 clubs and organizations and much more.

Yasmeen Smalley-Norman diving underwater

Fulbrights

The College of Art and Design has had eight Fulbright U.S. Student Program award recipients, allowing each to study, research or teach abroad. One was Yasmeen Smalley-Norman, selected to take underwater photos of endangered coral species in support of coral reef research in the Philippines.

Students at a conference

Conferences

Led by our dedicated faculty, students in various programs travel to conferences and events — both in the country and abroad — for development opportunities. The Motion Picture Science program, for example, annually attends the National Association of Broadcasters Show.

A visiting artist from Japan works with students in the glass hot shop

Speakers

Students sometimes don't need to travel outside of RIT's walls to receive an international experience. Visiting artists from all over the world — like Japan's Masahiro Sasaki — frequent our classrooms and studios for lectures and demos.

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.

Metaproject

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.

Visit Wilsonart's website

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.

Visit the Corning Museum of Glass's website

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.

Visit Areaware's website

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.

Visit Herman Miller's website

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

Visit Kikkerland's website

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

Visit Bed Bath and Beyond's website

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.

Visit Poppin's website

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

Visit Umbra's website

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.

Visit Good Luck's website

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.

Visit Sesame Street's website

In celebration of the Vignelli Center's 10th anniversary, students partnered with RIT's world-class design museum to create products incorporating their own definition of timelessness — a theme that kept with the "Design is One" philosophy espoused by the center.

Visit the Vignelli Center's website

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.

Visit Loll's website

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.

Visit Steelcase's website

Entrepreneurship

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

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.

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.