The purpose of the Wintersession program is to enhance the educational experience of RISD students and faculty by providing a period that offers opportunities which may not be available in a regular semester. Wintersession provides students with the opportunity to take a break from their core studies and immerse themselves in a focused study over a shorter term. Since its inception, the academic aim of Wintersession is to present students with an alternative learning experience that is distinct from the Fall and Spring semesters, and offers an opportunity to experiment with more innovative course offerings suitable to a shorter timeframe. Courses are designed to take into account the compressed and immersive nature of a condensed term, and offer students a chance to explore something new. Most courses are available to students without restriction and regardless of major, prior knowledge, or experience. Many students take advantage of this opportunity to explore new practices, interdisciplinary study, travel courses, or internship opportunities.

Enrollment Requirements

Every degree program student, undergraduate or graduate, is required to enroll in a minimum of 3 credits during each Wintersession term in order to remain in a full-time student status at RISD and to remain in good academic standing. Wintersession is a mandatory term. There are academic (and possibly financial consequences) for students who fail to register for Wintersession.All students must be registered for a minimum of 3 credits by the Wintersession Add/Drop deadline.Independent Study, Collaborative Study, and credit-bearing Internships each count towards the purpose of this requirement. Students who fail to register for 3 credits in Wintersession will be subject to academic probation.


  • Students graduating mid-year
  • Upper-class Brown | RISD Dual Degree students (although encouraged to take a class if their Brown schedule permits)
  • Students going on Spring EHP travel.(Students returning from Fall EHP travel are encouraged to take a class if their schedule permits)
  • Students coming/going from approved RISD Global exchange programs

Authorization to waive Wintersession may be granted by exception to policy only as a needed accommodation for appropriate documented medical conditions, and/or for legitimate academic reasons. These requests are considered exceptions to academic policy and must be requested in advance, using the Request for Exception to Academic Policy form. Factors such as teaching a Wintesession class, graduate application preparation, credits not needed towards degree requirements, inadequate academic preparation/planning, employment, extracurricular activities, or family/personal obligations, are not in themselves acceptable reasons for a Wintersession waiver. Authorization to waive Wintersession must be requested of the Academic Standing Committee no later than one month prior to the start of Wintersession. See the Academic Calendar for the exact deadline date. Plan accordingly as Wintersession waiver requests will not be accepted once the deadline passes.Use the ‘Request for Exception to Academic Policy’ form available in the Registrar’s Office.


  • Must be requested of the Academic Standing Committee no later than one month prior to the start of Wintersession.
  • Use the ‘Request for Exception to Academic Policy’ form available in the Registrar’s Office.

Wintersession Requirement for International Students (F-1 visas)

All international students must be enrolled for a minimum of 3 credits in the Wintersession term. If you seek an exception to this academic policy, make sure to visit the Office of International Student Services prior to submitting your request for a wintersession waiver. Not enrolling in Wintersession could affect your immigration status in the United States as well as your eligibility for OPT.

Second Course Availability

Registration in a second course is dependent upon course availability and is not guaranteed. Wintesession is designed for focused, unrestricted work in a course without the normal distractions of multiple courses.Consider and consult with your academic advisor if you are thinking about taking more than one course. Coursework for two classes in Wintersession can be overwhelming. Care should be taken in choosing courses so that they do not conflict in time or attendance.

The registration system is set up to provide all students with an opportunity to select one course before any student has an opportunity to select a second course. Registration for a second course is allowed only after all students have had a chance to register in one course. Most courses are three credits.If you register in one course which carries six credits, then you may not take a second course, even if the second course is an independent study or internship as students may not exceed six credits in Wintersession.

Meeting Times for On-Campus Courses

Courses in Wintersession generally span five to six weeks in January and early February. In order to have 12 scheduled course meetings for the term, three credit classes will meet twice a week and additionally on alternating Wednesdays.For six credit studios, contact hours are doubled, and courses meet Monday through Friday or as listed on Student Planning. A visual display of scheduled meeting days for Wintersession is available on the Registrar’s Office website..


Courses meet every week on Monday and Tuesday, except for the Monday holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr day when classes are not in session. In addition, courses meet on 3 Wednesdays for a total of 12 course sessions.


Courses meet every week on Thursday and Friday. In addition, courses meet on 2 Wednesdays for a total of 12 course sessions.

SCHEDULE AA (Alternative to A)

This is an alternative to Schedule A in order to provide at least one day off between most course meetings. Courses meet every week on Monday and Thursday. In addition, courses meet on 3 Wednesdays for a total of 12 course sessions.

SCHEDULE BB (Alternative to B)

This is an alternative to Schedule B in order to provide at least one day off between most course meetings. Courses meet every week on Tuesday and Friday. In addition, courses meet on 2 Wednesdays for a total of 12 course sessions.

Note: There are no scheduled days set aside for Wintersession Crits/Exams. All Wintersession Crits/Exams must take place during scheduled course time.

Student Planning always has the latest information about course times. If the course meeting time does not appear on Student Planning by November 1, check with the department offering the course. Dates and times for off-campus study courses (that is, travel courses) are listed on Student Planning for the days the course is held on RISD’s campus. Dates and times for the travel portion of the class are provided by the instructor or department offering the course.



Wintersession tuition for full-time students is included in the tuition for Fall and/or Spring semesters. Course fees are assessed on some courses. These fees are listed below the course description.The fees will be added to your account upon your registration in the class and you will be billed by Student Financial Services. In addition, some courses require the purchase of materials. Estimates of material costs are provided in the course description if they have been submitted by the department. Material costs are out-of-pocket expenses and are not billed by the College.

Off-campus study courses have costs beyond tuition associated with travel, lodging and perhaps materials.

Estimates are given in this Catalog, if available at publication time. The latest information on travel costs are listed in the course description on Student Planning as well as on the Global Partners and Programs website.

Brown University students who are given permission to cross-register for the Wintersession are not charged tuition but must pay any course fees at the time of registration.

Special Students (non-degree) are charged tuition on a per-credit basis and are also responsible for course fees. Payment is due at the time of registration which can be no sooner than the first day of class.

Course Options

Students are free to request any course for which they are eligible. Most courses do not require any special prior approval or prerequisites. In some departments, students may be required to enroll in specific Wintersession courses.These special curriculum requirements are listed in the Course Announcement, and available from your department.

Courses using the subject codes of NMSE, IDISC, AD, or FA are not offered by a particular major department and usually fulfill the degree requirement of a (N)on-(M)ajor (S)tudio (E)lective, as would a course offered by a department other than your major department. They may fulfill a major elective instead if the subject matter is pertinent to your major and if your department head approves.

RISD Winterssion Travel Courses (off-campus)

RISD offers a variety of off-campus Travel courses, which involve travel to locations worldwide. Courses are developed by individual faculty who create itineraries, program costs, and schedules. Travel courses require the instructor’s permission and registration takes place in mid to late October, prior to the regular registration for on campus Wintersession courses. Payment in full is due for Travel courses during the registration period.Wintersession Travel classes typically span the full Wintersession period (5-6 weeks) and usually include an on-campus period of study, either prior to travel, after travel, or both. Travel courses, and other relevant information are posted on the Global Partners and Programs website at and are also listed on Student Planning. Freshmen are eligible for designated travel courses with the approval of the Dean of Experimental and Foundation Studies.

Independent Study Program (ISP) and Collaborative Study Project (CSP)

Use the electronic application form available from the Registrar’s website.Enrollment in a three-credit ISP or CSP requires approval of your faculty tutor, and the department head for your major as well as the approval of the department head of the department granting the credit, if they are not the same. An overall 3.0 grade point average is required for participation in an ISP or CSP. Freshmen are not eligible for Independent or Collaborative Studies. ISP/CSP electronic application forms must be filed by the deadline indicated in the Academic Calendar.

A CSP allows two undergraduate or two graduate students to work collaboratively to complete a faculty supervised program of independent study.The CSP is an alternative to a regularly offered course and may be taken for three credits. Usually, a CSP is supervised by two faculty members, but with approval it may be supervised by one faculty member. Check the academic calendar for ISP/CSP deadlines.


Enrollment in a credit-bearing internship requires completion of an electronic Internship Registration and Agreement in ArtWorks by the deadline posted on the academic calendar. Freshmen are not eligible for Internships. Registration for an Internship requires special approvals and registration through ArtWorks, RISD’s online system used for tracking internships: Students may not retroactively register for internships once the semester has passed.Students must be enrolled in the internship during the semester in which the credit is sought. Grading is Pass/Fail only. Students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to participate in a credit bearing internship. Undergraduates may take a maximum of six internship credits toward their degree and Graduate students may take a maximum of three internship credits toward their graduate degree, except where departmental requirements dictate that students acquire more experience beyond three credits. Internship applications must be filed by the deadline indicated in the Academic Calendar.

Wintersession internships carry three credits, unless the department (such as Apparel Design) allows a six credit internship and provides approval for it in advance. For the few exceptions that allow six credits, the amount of course credit is linked to the content of the internship and number of hours the student participates in the internship, e.g., full-time for five weeks is necessary for up to six credits, but may not, on its own, be sufficient to warrant six credits. The six credit internship allowed in select departments should offer the student greater range or depth of experience than a three credit internship.

Sample evaluation forms are provided to students and internship supervisors in advance to help clarify the educational expectations for the internship. Electronic forms for evaluating the student’s work as an intern are provided to the supervisor and student through ArtWorks as the internship is nearing completion.Supervisors and students will submit their internship evaluation forms electronically at the end of the internship period.Students are graded by the instructor on record for the registered internship. Grading process is supported by the supervisor and student evaluations submitted through ArtWorks.

Registration Times and Information

Registration for Wintersession courses is via the web, using Student Planning, except for travel classes, ISP/CSP and Internships (see the previous section for how to register for these special classes). Web registration lottery times are emailed to students in October and follow the schedule posted on the Registrar website. Web registration lottery times are randomly assigned within your appropriate cohort/class level group. Student Planning will allow you to register only after your assigned time begins. The order of students selecting courses is set by the faculty. Students are limited to selecting one course at the time of initial registration. Detailed information about registration times and procedures can be found in October on the Registrar’s office website.

Note: You cannot web register for a course that requires instructor permission (as noted in the course description). To register, contact the instructor directly and use the paper Add/Drop Form available from the Registrar’s Office.

There is a separate registration lottery for adding a second course. Information is emailed to all students in October from the Registrar. Use Student Planning to check for open courses (with seats available). During the Add/Drop period, classes which have been previously closed may reopen as students drop classes or are dropped by the faculty for unexcused absence.


Many courses in Wintersession allow for electronic waitlisting on Student Planning.

  • If a course is full, you may add your name to a waitlist. Make your choices count. Limit yourself to three waitlists.
  • If a place subsequently opens up in the course, an email is sent to the first student on the waitlist informing them of the opening and directing them to go to Student Planning within 48 hours in order to register themselves, if they are interested in the spot. Student Planning is used by the student to register.
  • If the student does not register within the 48 hour window, they lose their opportunity, and an email will be sent to the next student on the list, etc.
  • If you try to waitlist a course that does not offer this feature, you will get a message that "waitlisting is not allowed for this course." Contact the instructor to see if they are keeping their own waitlist.
  • At the end of the registration period, automatic enrollment from the waitlist will end, as will the automatic waitlist feature. On the first day of class, if you are on that waitlist and wish to be registered, go to the first class. If spots in a course open up, the instructor has the option of adding students at their discretion via the Add/Drop form process.

Instructors have 24/7 access to their WebAdvisor class rosters and waitlists.

Wintersession Travel Course Registration

Wintersession Travel course registration is held in advance of RISD's traditional on-campus registration. Registration dates are listed in the Academic Calendar. Global Partners displays opportunities for Wintersession travel. Each of the courses are also viewable on Student Planning and WebAdvisor.

Registration for Wintersession Travel courses requires pre-approval from the instructor. Students do not register for these courses themselves. Freshmen are eligible for designated travel courses with the approval of the Dean of Experimental and Foundation Studies.

Follow these steps to register:

1) Students must attend the Instructor's information session, which provides students with information about the goals and objectives of the travel course.

Information sessions take place mid-September to early-October, and are available to all students interested in registering. In some instances, a direct meeting with the instructor of the course may be an alternative to session attendance. Feel free to contact the instructor of your interested travel course for more information.

2) After the Information sessions, instructors will provide the Registrar's Office and Student Financial Services with a list of approved and waitlisted students for their travel course.

3) Students approved to register will receive acknowledgements from the Registrar's Office on the first day of travel course registration. This email will include information on how to pay for the course. Payments will be collected online through Student Financial Services. Students have from one week to make full payment online for the course.

4) Students will be registered by the Registrar's Office once payment is collected.

Waitlisted students will also receive an acknowledgment on the first day of registration from the Registrar's Office. Should seats become available in a travel course, waitlisted students will be notified by the Registrar's Office, which will require a 48 hour response of payment. Registration will be processed once payment is collected.

All students participating in off-campus global learning must be in good academic standing (and good conduct-related standing) in order to register for a travel course and travel abroad. To participate in a Wtinersession Travel course, students must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.50 at the time of registration. Prior to travel, students sign a waiver agreeing to remain in good standing at RISD, and the RISD Global office works with offices across campus to ensure this is the case. Should a student fall below the minimum adequate standing requirements for travel, RISD may remove the student from the course at any point.

Note: it is not possible to drop a Wintersession Travel course after it has commenced. RISD provides many resources to support students during their RISD Global experiences. In the case of unforeseen and extenuating circumstances, and after you have spoken with the faculty lead, the host school international office, and/or in special circumstances RISD Global for approval to withdraw from the program, please be aware that no refund will be issued. Returning to RISD in the current semester is not an option.