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College History

Rhode Island College is built upon a legacy vital not only to the state of Rhode Island but also to the development of modern education in this country. RIC came from humble origins, as an untested idea that was championed by a few truly visionary leaders. But its founding also inaugurated an unmatched commitment to self-transformation in order to meet the changing needs of the people of Rhode Island – a commitment that continues to this day.

Read about RIC’s forward-looking 162-year approach to education in a newly published, limited edition volume titled “Adobe PDFRhode Island College: Meeting the State’s Needs Through Time” (2016).


Rhode Island College is located on a 180-acre park-like campus in the Mount Pleasant section of Providence. This location combines a suburban atmosphere with easy access to the benefits and resources of the metropolitan area.

Academic offerings are provided in five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Management, the School of Nursing, and the School of Social Work.

Rhode Island College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and has also received accreditation for specific programs from the following agencies: Council on Social Work Education, National Association of Schools of Art and Design, National Association of Schools of Music, National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

When the college was established in 1854 as the Rhode Island State Normal School, its goal was to provide teacher preparation to young people from Rhode Island. With the dedication of a new building in 1898, the institution began a period of steady growth, evolving first into a teachers' college, the Rhode Island College of Education. In the 1958-59 academic year the college moved to its current Mount Pleasant campus, and in 1959 was renamed Rhode Island College to reflect its new purpose as a comprehensive institution of higher education. With an enrollment predominantly from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut, the institution historically has served as a "College of Opportunity" for first-generation college students.

The college now serves approximately 9,000 students in courses and programs both on and off campus.

RIC is our state’s first public institution of higher education. The college operates under the aegis of the Council on Postsecondary Education, one of two councils that comprise the Rhode Island Board of Education. The Board of Education is an innovative integration of policymaking and planning for elementary, secondary and higher public education in our state.

Rhode Island College Sesquicentennial

1854-2004: 150 Years and Still Growing!
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Page last updated: Friday, May 20, 2016