RISD officially awards degrees three times a year. Degree conferral occurs at the conclusion of the Fall semester, at the conclusion of the Spring semester, and at the conclusion of the Summer term. The conferral date is the date which will be posted on the diploma and on the official transcript.
Students must fill out a Graduation Application so that the Registrar’s office can capture the name a student wishes to appear on their diploma. Students may stay enrolled at RISD only as long as needed in order to complete graduation requirements. Students will be automatically graduated upon successful completion of all degree requirements. Students who do not complete degree requirements as anticipated by the end of the semester/term will earn their degree as of the next degree conferral date, provided successful completion of all requirements.
The Registrar’s office is in contact with students regarding diploma issuance. Diplomas are not released until the Registrar’s office confirms final degree requirement clearance. Students cannot remain enrolled at RISD after degree requirements have been completed.
Please see the Academic Calendar for official dates.
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 summer or Fall.To be considered for graduation at the end of Fall, students should declare their intentions to their department, as well as to the Registrar's Office, by November 1. Fall graduates who have completed all degree requirements are not eligible to register for Wintersession or Spring courses unless the results of their Fall semester grades require them to do so. Any student that is cleared to graduate who enrolls in a Wintersession course will be dropped in advance of Fall degree conferral.
Students who finish degree requirements after Wintersession will be eligible for a letter attesting to their completion of requirements, but the actual degree and diploma will not be transcripted, conferred, or available, until the spring conferral date in early June (or late May, depending on when the first Saturday after Memorial Day occurs).
International students on an 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.
Students that are not currently enrolled at RISD, who are seeking to complete degree requirements from a prior year, are eligible for degree conferral (assuming successful completion of degree requirements) as of the next upcoming graduation date. Students that have been away from RISD for four or more years must satisfy the degree requirements in place at the time of their request to graduate.
Student academic records are sealed upon graduation and no changes or additions to that record will be entertained once a student officially graduates.
Commencement is an institutional ceremony. RISD holds one commencement ceremony a year, on the Saturday following the Memorial Day holiday. Students must have degree requirements completed (assuming successful completion of Spring classes in progress) in order to be listed in the Commencement program and participate in the graduation ceremony and activities.
Students who are not cleared to graduate in spring, who are within 6 credits of completing degree requirements and who expect to complete those requirements over the summer, must seek approval from the Academic Standing Committee (ASC) in order to participate in Commencement activities. A ‘Plan to Complete Degree Requirements' form must be completed and filed with the Registrar by April 1 for ASC review. The ASC will notify students of its decision by May 1 or as close as possible thereto.
Students who have degrees conferred in the prior Summer or Fall are invited to participate in the upcoming Commencement ceremony (as well as, for graduate levels students, the Graduate Hooding) the spring following degree requirement completion.