Eligibility and Participation

Students must have degree requirements completed (assuming successful completion of Spring classes in progress) in order to be listed in the Commencement program, participate in the graduation ceremony, and receive their diploma.

There are limited exceptions to this policy, namely: Students who are within 6 credits of completing all degree requirements and who expect to complete those degree requirements by September 1 must seek approval from the Academic Standing Committee (ASC) in order to participate in Commencement activities. A ‘Plan to Complete Degree Requirements' form available from the Registrar, must be completed and filed with the Registrar by April 1 for ASC review. The ASC reviews and makes determinations on the ‘Plan to Complete’ forms and notifies students of its decision by May 1 or as close as possible thereto.


By semester (Fall/Spring):

Students who achieve a semester grade-point average of at least 3.750 with a minimum of 12 credits included in the GPA calculation earn honors at the end of the semester. Courses taken at Brown through cross-registration must be taken with the A, B, C letter grade system in order for these credits to apply toward the minimum of 12 required for consideration for semester honors.

Semester honors are based on grades recorded with the Registrar’s Office at the end of each semester. When honors are calculated, students with one or more incomplete grades for the semester will not be eligible for semester honors. Semester honors are recognized by a letter from the Academic Standing Committee.

Upon graduation:

College graduation honors are conferred for Undergraduate students who have completed all graduation requirements with a cumulative GPA of 3.750 or higher on the day of Commencement. Honors will NOT be awarded to a student whose GPA rises to 3.750 or higher after their official Commencement date (due to a grade change or completion of additional work).

Graduation Date

RISD holds a commencement ceremony once a year on the Saturday following the Memorial Day holiday, which is the only official graduation date for all students who complete degree requirements between Sept. 1 and Commencement Day. A current student who completes graduation requirements after Commencement but by September 1 will officially graduate on the Commencement date that just passed, provided that documentation of completion (e.g. transcript, grade change form) arrives in the Registrar’s Office by September 1.

A student who completes degree requirements after September 1 will earn the degree as of the Commencement date following completion of the work, provided that documentation has arrived in the Registrar’s Office. For example, if on the day of Commencement one additional course is needed to graduate and that course is taken and passed in the subsequent Fall semester, then the official graduation date for that student will be the date of Commencement which follows the date the student completed the work.

Student academic records are sealed upon graduation and no changes or additions to that record will be entertained once a student officially graduates.

Mid-Year Completion of Degree Requirements

The vast majority of RISD students complete their degree requirements at the end of the Spring semester by design of program curriculum. However, for students in the Liberal Arts MA programs, and select students off-track, they may be ready to complete requirements at the end of the Fall semester or after Wintersession, which is referred to as mid-year graduation. For mid-year graduation, students should declare their intentions to their department as well as the Registrar's Office by December 1.

Students who are confirmed for mid-year graduation will be eligible for a letter attesting to their completion of requirements, but the actual degree and diploma will not be conferred or available until the day of Commencement in early June (or late May, depending on the academic calendar). Beginning January 2020, when the first class of Liberal Arts MA students graduate, mid-year diplomas will be awarded.

International students (F-1 Visa) should see the Office of International Student Services if they plan to graduate mid-year. The program end date that is listed on the student's Form I-20 immigration document will need to be adjusted. At that meeting, OISS reviews options for international students after graduation. International students may stay enrolled at RISD only as long as needed to complete graduation requirements.