Academic Year and Course/Credit Load
For most students, the academic year consists of two semesters (Fall and Spring), and a mandatory Wintersession term. The normal credit load is 12 to 15 credits per semester, and 3 credits during Wintersession.Twelve (12) credits per semester is the minimum requirement for full-time enrollment (successfully completing 12 credits each semester is the minimum requirement, along with meeting a minimum GPA standard, to remain in good academic standing).
Registering for less than 12 credits in a semester (and less than 3 credits in Wintersession) is not permitted. Students who do not complete at least 12 credits in a semester (or 3 credits during Wintersession) will be placed on academic probation and run the risk of jeopardizing their financial aid.
International students on an F-1 Visa must enroll in at least 12 credits (and 3 credits in Wintersession) to maintain their visa status. Any internships done in the United States must be credit bearing and require Curricular Practical Training (CPT) work authorization. Please see the Office of International Student Services for more information.
Requests to enroll for less than 12 credits (referred to as “reduced load”) are considered according to the policy described in the section entitled “Full-time Enrollment Requirement” in the Registration Policies. Requests for reduced load must be made in writing to the Academic Standing Committee using the ‘Request for Exception to Academic Policy’ form and submitted to the Registrar’s Office no later than one month prior to the start of classes. Refer to the next section “Maximum Semester and Wintersession Term Credits” for the policy on maximum semester credits.
Undergraduate students may take credit bearing courses at RISD in the Summer under limited circumstances. These circumstances include internships (for which registration is completed prior to beginning the internship), Summer Travel courses through RISD Global, and enrollment in the Summer Experimental & Foundation Studies Program, which offers up to nine credits to incoming students, as well as continuing students, seeking to make up coursework in Foundation Studies. RISD Continuing Education offers credit bearing courses. Refer to the “Other Programs” section for more information.
Graduate students may take credit bearing courses at RISD in the Summer under limited circumstances. These circumstances include internships (for which registration is completed prior to beginning the internship), Summer Travel courses through RISD Global, and enrollment in the Summer Experimental & Foundation Studies Program which offers up to nine credits to incoming graduate students seeking to make up coursework in Foundation Studies to meet a condition of admission. In addition, select graduate programs have Summer credit requirements, such as the MLA in Landscape Architecture, the MAT program in Art Education, the MDes program in Interior Studies (Adaptive Reuse), and the MA in Interior Architecture.