Rochester Institute of Technology

Academic Program Overviews

Student Skills & Capabilities, Salary Data, Career Information 

Furniture Design BFA

Program Overview

The Furniture Design program at the School for American Crafts will engage students in the pursuit of their creative interests while providing a compressive technical background in contemporary woodworking. This program focuses on technical expertise, freeing students to investigate a full range of creative expression and professional interests. A carefully-sequenced training begins with a firm foundation in the use and maintenance of hand tools, proceeding on to more advanced tools and topics in construction and design.

In addition to the intensive Wood Studio, students will gain experience in drawing, fundamental design issues, concept development, art history, and business practices. The program also emphasizes self-promotion, professionalism, portfolio development, gallery interactions, and studio operations. During the senior year, students will culminate their work in an exhibition at an off-campus gallery. Upon graduation, students will be well-prepared to transition from student to active craftsman in this fine art field.

MFA degree - Graduate Study
The MFA program in furniture design is structured around the individual student’s needs, interests, and background. As such, the program seeks to strengthen students’ techniques, advance their aesthetic and design sensibilities, and hone their own personal expression. The first year of the program will expose students to a broad range of critical issues related to the conception and production of art, inspire and provoke their critical reflection, and facilitate the development of their preliminary thesis topic. In the second year students will propose and fully engage in a thesis project, which will culminate in a major exhibition in the spring.

Degrees Awarded

  • Associate of Occupational Studies
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • Master of Fine Arts


  • Approximately 40 students

Cooperative Education & Experiential Education Component

  • Bachelor degree students have the option to complete two co-op assignments.

Salary Information

Co-op:                   Insufficient Data
BFA/MFA:             Insufficient Data

Student Skills & Capabilities

  • The educational objectives seek to stimulate creative imagination and technical invention, develop knowledge of process and command of skills, and foster appreciation, not only of the crafts, but also the related arts.  The program strive to inspire the student to seek continual improvement through analysis and self-evaluation, and the AOS and BFA program cooperate with the College of Liberal Arts in assisting students to develop personally and socially.
  • The goal of the Furniture Design Department of the School for American Crafts is to provide a balanced program that engages students in the pursuit of their individual design interests, while developing a comprehensive technical background in contemporary woodworking.
  • Our students’ interests span the full spectrum of the woodworking world: one-of-a kind studio art furniture, commission work, production and limited edition work, involvement in industry and sculpture.  We believe that an understanding of appropriate technique frees the individual to investigate his or her full range of creative expression.  We offer instruction in a wide array of subjects, which simultaneously develops a student’s design vocabulary, technical skills and personal creative interests.
  • Our carefully sequenced technical training begins with a firm foundation in the use and maintenance of hand tools and proceeds on to the use and maintenance of the power tools in our well-equipped machine shop.
  • Students gain experience in 2-dimensional design, 3-dimensional design, free hand drawing, technical drawing, art history and business practices.


RIT is chartered by the Legislature of the State of New York and accredited by the Commission of Higher Education of the Middle States Association for the Colleges and Schools and National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Equipment & Facilities

  • The School for American Crafts has become famous for its devotion to the technical skills, impeccable craftsmanship, and artistic expression in the crafts. 
  • Studios, labs, classrooms and equipment are among the finest in the nation.  SAC boasts the latest equipment in all areas of design, arts, and crafts, and a wide variety of other resources, which aid students in their technical development.  Focus remains, however, on BOTH the technical and creative process.
  • Our program features a modern, comprehensive woodworking facility.  We have 4,800 square feet of benchroom space and a complete 2,300-square-foot machine room, with well maintained woodworking and metalworking equipment, separate veneer press and steam bending rooms, spray booth, wood storage, drawing rooms, and computer labs for computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting work.

Nature of Work

Despite the development of sophisticated plastics and other materials, the demand for wood products continues unabated. Helping to meet this demand are woodworkers. Woodworkers are found in industries that produce wood, such as sawmills and plywood mills; in industries that use wood to produce furniture, kitchen cabinets, musical instruments, and other fabricated wood products; or in small shops that make architectural woodwork, furniture, and many other specialty items. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook)

Training / Qualifications

Most woodworkers are trained on the job, picking up skills informally from experienced workers. Most woodworkers learn basic machine operations and job tasks in a few months, but becoming a skilled woodworker often requires 2 or more years. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)

Job Outlook

Employment of woodworkers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment growth should be good for woodworkers who specialize in items used in renovation, such as moldings, cabinets, stairs, and windows. Firms that focus on custom woodwork should be able to compete against imports without the need to outsource jobs to other countries.

Woodworkers who know how to create and carry out custom designs on a computer will likely be in strong demand. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)

Job Titles

Craft Artist, Sculptor, Designer, Furniture Designer


Woodworkers held about 202,700 jobs in 2012. Self-employed woodworkers, mostly cabinetmakers and furniture finishers, accounted for 12 percent of these jobs. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics O.O.H.)

Significant Points

  • Those with advanced skills, including advanced math and the ability to interpret design drawings, should have the best job opportunities in manufacturing industries.
  • Those who can demonstrate leadership and problem-solving skills should also have the best job prospects. (Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook)

Selected Employer Hiring Partners

George Nakashima Woodworkers, Gunlocke, Belkov Yacht Company, Atlantic International, Icon Design & Wendell Castle Collection, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Savante Furniture, Mirror Show Management, Wendell Castle Studios, BDDW Handmade American Furniture, Richard Wrightman Design, Edgewood, Kittinger Furniture Co.

Contact Us

We appreciate your interest in your career and we will make every effort to help you succeed. Feel free to contact Morgan Faas, the career services coordinator who works with the Furniture Design program. You can access information about services through our web site at

Morgan Faas, Career Services Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,  585.475.5469

Rochester Institute of Technology . Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education
Bausch & Lomb Center
57 Lomb Memorial Drive . Rochester NY  14623-5603