Rosaria Piomelli (née Agrisano) was born in Naples, Italy, on October 24, 1937. She stayed in her hometown where she received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in 1954 and 1955, respectively. By 1960, M. Rosaria had immigrated to the United States and received a Bachelor of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For the next two decades, she worked at architect firms in Italy, New York and the Netherlands.
In 1971, M. Rosaria began to teach at the City College of New York (CCNY) School of Architecture. Three years later, she began to teach at the Pratt Institute. During this time, she was also the director of the Equal Opportunity Committee for the American Institute of Architects, where she focused her time promoting women and their work in the field. In 1980, M. Rosaria was appointed the Dean of the City College of New York School of Architecture making her the first female in America to become the dean of an architecture school. In 1985, she returned to teaching full-time and is currently a professor at CCNY.