About us

The Ringling Effect


Welcome! I am honored to introduce you to Ringling College of Art and Design, a world-renowned art college that is poised to be THE preeminent art and design college worldwide. 

Ringling College is a place for the world’s most talented emerging creatives. Here, we know that creative problem solvers and critical thinkers require a unique environment to reach their full potential, which is why we provide our students with an award-winning faculty, world-class facilities, and professional opportunities to learn and grow. We call it "The Ringling Effect."

The Ringling Effect can’t be narrowed to one aspect of life at Ringling. No, it’s a confluence of factors that result in the very best conditions for creative development, inspiration, and creative problem-solving.  Our faculty, comprised of award-winning artists and designers who are passionate about their field, lead our students through the best practices in the industry, prompting them to ask questions, think globally, and take big, yet calculated, risks. Our studios, labs, and classrooms empower students to learn by making and doing, while developing their professional skills using best equipment and most advanced technology in the world. Our programs propel students from the classroom to the conference room by guaranteeing the opportunity to have actual, professional client projects for each and every student before graduation.

And we care. For the last 85 years, Ringling College has strived to create globally aware and socially responsible leaders of art and design. Companies today are looking for original, creative solutions to make the world a better place and address the major challenges of our time. That’s why we instill the significance of creating work with value and meaning.

So join us. Join our elite group of forward-thinking, socially responsible artists and designers who are exceeding expectations in their industries and taking the world by storm. They are unafraid of risk and undeterred by failure. Join the ranks of our esteemed alumni raking in Emmys, ADDYs, Oscars, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and working at the top creative companies around the globe including Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Google, LinkedIn, Lilly Pulitzer, and so many more. Join a community defined by innovation, invention, opportunity, and possibility.

Bring your creativity and passion.  We will help you master and apply it to the most creative, meaningful, and purpose-filled career you can imagine.


Dr. Larry R. Thompson




At Our Core


Ringling College of Art and Design recognizes that artists and designers play a significant role in society. The College's primary mission is to provide programs leading to degrees that prepare students to be discerning visual thinkers and ethical practitioners in their chosen area of art and design.

Visual arts professionals must understand diverse aspects of past and present cultures, and develop their capacity for creative expression and effective communication. Ringling's curriculum, therefore, balances the teaching of technical knowledge and skills with the development of critical, conceptual and creative abilities and supports courses that provide historical, multicultural, global and future perspectives. Ringling faculty consists of professionally active and teaching-oriented artists, designers and scholars.

Ringling College of Art and Design strives to enroll both full- and part-time students from diverse backgrounds who intend to become professionals in the visual arts. Through its policies and practices, the College supports excellence in teaching and fosters the aesthetic, intellectual, professional, personal, and social development of its students. Academic programs and advising, career services, and an extensive co-curricular student life program prepare students for an art or design profession, or when appropriate, for continued studies on the graduate level.

In addition to its degree program, Ringling College offers courses, lectures, exhibitions and other art-related services to the local and regional community through its gallery, library, continuing education and community service programs.

Through the efforts of its Board of Trustees, administrators, faculty, support staff, alumni, and friends, Ringling endeavors to provide the necessary resources, services and environment to fulfill its institutional mission.

Founded in 1931, Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, independent, nonprofit, four-year college.

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, April 11, 1991
Revision adopted by the Board of Trustees, October 24, 2002
Revision adopted by the Board of Trustees, April 12, 2007
Reaffirmed by the Board of Trustees, February 12, 2015


In Support of the Institutional Mission We Value:

  • The arts as essential in the cultural and intellectual life of a society.
  • Rich and varied arts education that engages innovation and tradition.
  • Educational experiences in and out of the classroom that nurture lives of learning and creativity.
  • Development and support of the whole student.
  • Academic freedom, inquiry and freedom of expression.
  • Integrity and social responsibility in an interdependent world.
  • Diverse community that serves as a source of empowerment.

Indicators of the Mission and Values in Action

  • Preparing students as future artists and designers by providing a curriculum that explores ideas, technical and conceptual skills, and aesthetic choices. In addition to appropriate support for the major disciplines, this includes support for the liberal arts as an essential component, an adequate number of qualified faculty, high standards in teaching with attention to appropriate class size and provision of adequate academic support through facilities and services.
  • Attending to the whole student by providing qualified staff and appropriate services, adequate and safe facilities for on-campus life. This strengthens the classroom and educational experiences and helps to lay the foundation for a life of continued growth.

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, February 13, 2003


The Student Competencies outlined below are intended outcomes for all students by the time of graduation. Both academic and academic support areas advance student achievement within the BFA degree program. Students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate specific abilities as creators, communicators and collaborators.

School-wide competencies are developed at three levels

  1. Awareness 
  2. Understanding
  3. ​Application

Competency threads woven throughout all areas

Communication Skills
Demonstrate effective skills in visual communication, speaking, writing, listening, reading, and computer literacy. 

Thinking Skills
Demonstrate abilities in conceptual, logical, and intuitive thinking within a variety of contexts.

Global Perspectives
Demonstrate an understanding of differences in cultures and societies.

Artistic Discernment
Show an ability to discern artistic merit of diverse forms of art/design in their contexts. 
Be able to defend critical interpretations concerning the significance of artistic expression.

Self-Directed Learning
Demonstrate responsibility for independent learning and perseverance towards goal attainment.

Understand and practice collaboration in appropriate situations.

Social Responsibility
Recognize the social and ethical responsibility of creating art and design.

Discipline-Based Competencies

  • Demonstrate the ability to create and present quality works in their chosen field(s) of study. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze, interpret, and evaluate works of art/design. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to integrate theory, creativity, and technical skills as applied to their profession.


As recommended by the Ringling College Academic Affairs Committee [AAC] and the Departmental Affairs Committee. November 5, 2002.


Ringling College of Art & Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges [SACSCOC] to award the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Ringling College of Art & Design.

The College is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design [NASAD], and at the First Professional Degree Level by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation [CIDA].

Ringling is a member of AICAD – the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design – a non-profit consortium of 42 leading art schools in the US and Canada. It was founded in 1991 by a group of 25 presidents who felt a need for the similarly structured art schools to come together so as to mutually develop their schools and programs. AICAD's mission is to help strengthen the member colleges individually and collectively, and to inform the public about these colleges and the value of studying art and design. AICAD colleges educate more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year, plus many thousands more in summer and continuing education programs. Students are drawn from all 50 US states and more than 60 foreign countries, and over 70% of these students receive financial aid to support their education. http://www.aicad.org

Ringling College is a member of Cumulus, the only global association to serve art and design education and research. It is forum for partnership and transfer of knowledge and basic practices. Cumulus consists currently of 198 members from 48 countries. Learn more: cumulusassociation.org

Ringling College is an Institutional Affiliate of Design Futures Council (DFC), a global network of design community professionals whose mission is to explore trends, changes and new opportunities in design, architecture, engineering, construction and building technology for the purpose of fostering innovation and building a better future. Design Futures Council membership is comprised of dynamic corporations, firms, forward thinking organizations, and individual innovators who are industry leaders interested in creating fresh visions for the future of design. Learn more: www.di.net

Ringling College of Art and Design is a private four-year accredited college located in Sarasota, Florida that was founded by Dr. Ludd M. Spivey in collaboration with John Ringling as an art school in 1931 as a remote branch of Southern College named The School of Fine and Applied Art of the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum. 

The concept of founding this art school originated from Dr. Ludd M. Spivey, then president of Southern College, which was founded in 1856 in Lakeland, Florida, and is now called Florida Southern College. Spivey sought financial support for this concept from the Sarasota circus magnate, John Ringling. At that time, Spivey learned that Ringling was not interested in giving to Southern College and he was more interested in establishing his own art school at the museum founded with his first wife, Mable. The museum was constructed on their estate in the form of an Italian villa to house a vast collection of seventeenth century sculpture and paintings collected on their travels and at auctions. Most importantly, Ringling nearly was bankrupt. If Ringling could have, he would have opened his own art school that was drawn on his original plans for the museum, but it was not built because of a lack of funds.

Ringling's wife, Mabel, died in June 1929, a few months before the crash of the stock market. Ringling's health began to fail as well. A year later, in 1930, he married Emily Haag Buck in Jersey City, New Jersey, a wealthy woman who turned out to have little interest in Florida. This marriage ended in divorce shortly before the death of John Ringling in 1936. He died just before losing his museum and residence to bankruptcy. His will left his residential property, including his home and the museum, to the state, otherwise they would have been sold for debts along with his other holdings. In retrospect, failure to involve Ringling in founding the school became a stroke of luck for its survival: if Ringling had founded the art school as requested, it would have been subjected to the same fate. After a ten-year struggle, his nephew was able to keep that deteriorating estate parcel intact and retained by the state.

Repeatedly Spivey's plan to found an art school was discussed and, after much negotiation, it was agreed that Southern College would open its own art school in Sarasota as a branch. With much reluctance, Ringling agreed that it could be known as the School of Fine and Applied Art of the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum, lending his name and that of his former wife to the school, to associate the Florida Southern art school with the more famous name of the Ringlings and their museum.

The first class had only seventy-five students and there were thirteen faculty members. Each student paid $783 per year for tuition, board, room, fees, and books. Each student also attended chapel services every day and written permission had to be received by the school's president or dean if a student wanted to leave town.

The art school separated from Southern College and became an independent nonprofit institution in 1933 and changed its name to Ringling School of Art. It qualified for full accreditation as a degree-granting institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) on December 11, 1979. Upon joining as a member, accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) was granted in 1984.

Today, the picturesque 48-acre campus includes more than 110 buildings, and enrolls 1,300 students from 45 states, 60 countries, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico – two thirds of whom reside on the pedestrian-friendly residential campus. Its more than 140 faculty members are all professional artists, designers, and scholars who actively pursue their own work outside the classroom. The College’s rigorous curriculum engages innovation and tradition through a strong, well-rounded, first-year program specific to the major of study, with a deep focus on the liberal arts. Its teaching model encourages its students to become globally aware scholar-practitioners who are well prepared to enter the job market and be successful in their chosen careers.

Learn more about the institution's beginnings by reading "The First 50 Years" an account of the College's early years by past president Robert E. Perkins.



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