The idea of a dual degree was conceived in 2003 and was prioritized in the Fall of 2006 under the governance of President Ruth Simmons of Brown and President Roger Mandle of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).  During the 2006-2007 academic year, a proposal for a five-year dual degree program was developed and after approval by the governing boards and trustees from both Brown and the RISD, President Simmons and President Mandle signed a memorandum and established the Dual Degree Program in September of 2007. 

The establishment of the Dual Degree Program built upon the institutions' long-standing cooperative relationship and cross-registration agreement.  The Program was in part derived by the desire to facilitate and formalize the means to complete both a degree from Brown and a Degree from RISD, something a few students were managing to do by transferring back and forth between the two institutions!  The first Brown|RISD Dual Degree cohort, the BRDD Class of 2013, was admitted in the Fall of 2008.