Accreditation is a voluntary system of self-regulation carried out by peer review in which an institution or program is found to meet or exceed a set of standards.

RISD is accredited by two organizations: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Several programs have specialized accreditation: Architecture (National Architecture Accrediting Board), Landscape Architecture (Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board) and the Master of Art in Teaching (RI Department of Education).

Every 10 years, institutions submit a comprehensive self-study and supporting documents in advance of a site visit. RISD's last site visit was April 3–6, 2016.