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FAQs

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FAQs

Q. How many credits are required for RISD’s undergraduate degree?

Q. How many transfer credits are allowed, and what restrictions apply?

Q. What are the minimum and maximum enrollment requirements?

Q. Can I take a reduced load if I have a special circumstance?

Q. Does tuition change if I’m taking a reduced course load?

Q. How can I add or drop a course?

Q. Can I pursue a double major/secondary major?

Q. How can I earn academic credit outside of courses?

Q. What other options do I have for interdisciplinary study?

Q. How can I take a course at Brown?

Q. How many credits are required for RISD’s undergraduate degree?

A: 126 Total Credits Required

  • 18 Foundation

  • 54 Major Program

  • 12 Non-Major Studio Electives

  • 42 Liberal Arts 

Q. How many transfer credits are allowed, and what restrictions apply?

A. While pursuing a RISD degree, you may take some courses at other schools. You may transfer a maximum of 12 credits from other accredited institutions after RISD matriculation.

Approval is required BEFORE taking any courses intended for transfer credit. Eligibility is determined by the your Department Head (for major courses and non-major studio electives) or the Dean of Liberal Arts (liberal arts courses)—before transfer credit can be considered pre-approved.

Note that there are different forms for seeking pre-approval of Liberal Arts or studio transfer credits. The LA-related forms are available at the Liberal Arts Division Office. The form for transfer of Major/Non-Major studio credit is available on the Registrar’s website. In order for pre-approved transfer credit to count toward the degree, you must have earned a grade of C or better in the course. Successfully completed transfer credits are indicated by a “T” in the Program Evaluation on WebAdvisor or “Progress” in Student Planning. Also note that waivers are not given for the required Liberal Arts courses H101, H102, S101, or E101 for first-year students.


Q. What are the minimum and maximum enrollment requirements?

A. The recommended course credit load is:

15 credits in the Fall, 3 in Wintersession, and 15 in the Spring

CAUTION: If you want to take more than 15 credits in either Fall or Spring you must get approval from their advisor and/or Department Head. Consult the Department Coordinator for more information.

CAUTION: If you do not attempt the minimum 12 credits in Fall and Spring and 3 credits in Wintersession you will be placed on academic probation and that may jeopardize scholarships or financial aid. International Students will be in violation of their immigration status and may need to leave the U.S.

Q. Can I take a reduced load if I have a special circumstance?

A. Taking less than 12 credits in Fall or Spring or less than 3 credits in Wintersession requires advanced approval by the Academic Standing Committee. Address queries to the Registrar (registrar@risd.edu).

You may be eligible for reduced course loads if you:

  • are registered with Disability Support Services

  • have a documented medical condition

  • have legitimate academic reasons determined by the Academic 
    Standing Committee

If you meet the criteria for reduced course loads you must:

  • complete an Exception to Academic Policy Form (available from the Registrar’s Office)

  • obtain any required approvals and signatures PRIOR TO the beginning of the relevant semester

  • confirm that attending RISD on a reduced credit load will not adversely affect your financial aid or scholarships

  • seek advice from the Office of International Student Services if you are attending RISD on a visa PRIOR TO dropping below full-time.

Q. Does tuition change if I'm on a reduced course load?

A. Students are typically charged the full-time tuition fee even when authorized to attend on reduced load. Exceptions to this requirement may be made in the case of medical or disability-related reductions. For further information, contact the Student Accounts office.

Q. How can I add or drop a course?

A. NOTE: First-Year students must consult with the Dean of Experimental and Foundation Studies.

All other students may follow these guidelines.

If you are still within the add/drop period:

Adding a course? Register online through WebAdvisor or if necessary obtain the signed permission of the instructor on the official Add/ Drop form. The form must be submitted to the Registrar.

Dropping a course? Signatures are NOT required for dropping a course during the Add/ Drop period. Students may drop courses on WebAdvisor if they registered themselves, or they can submit an Add/Drop form to the Registrar’s Office. The student’s major department can drop courses that were registered by the department.

CAUTION! Failing to submit an Add/Drop form or to add or drop a course via WebAdvisor will result in an “F” on your academic record or will result in you being considered “unregistered” and therefore you will not be graded, recorded or credited for the course.

If the add/drop period has ended:

Adding a course? You must follow the Exception to Policy procedure (Visit Registrar’s Office).

Dropping a course?

If you have your instructor’s approval and the course withdrawal deadline hasn’t passed you must get a Course Withdrawal form from the Registrar’s Office, obtain the signature of the instructor, and return the form to the Registrar’s Office by the deadline for Course Withdrawal date on the Academic Calendar. The letter “W” (for withdrawn) is recorded on your academic record along with the course title and semester. “W”s remain on your transcript but do not adversely affect the grade point average (GPA).

If you do not have your instructor’s approval and the course withdrawal deadline has passed you cannot withdraw from a course. An “F” will be recorded on your academic record.

CAUTION! If you stop attending a course without permission from the instructor, the instructor will either enter an Unofficial Withdrawal (UW) grade or a failing grade (F) on your academic record.


Q. May I pursue a double major/secondary major?

A. A double major represents the completion of work in two areas for one degree. As double majoring is not an official policy at RISD, evaluation and approval of student requests to pursue a double major are handled on a case-by-case basis. A student interested in a double major must meet with both department heads to gain written permission to formally declare both majors based on a feasible plan. One major will be designated “primary” and the other “secondary.” Students generally pursue both majors simultaneously rather than sequentially; hence the intention to double major must be declared by the middle of the junior year. A student declaring a double major should expect to remain at RISD for an extra year. Both majors must be completed before the degree can be earned unless you formally “undeclare” your double major. You may withdraw a double major declaration by notice to advisors and heads of the departments concerned, as well as the Registrar’s Office.

Q. How do I earn academic credit outside of courses?

A. Independent Study Projects (ISPs) allow you to complete a supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest to supplement the established curriculum. Collaborative Study Projects (CSPs) allow two students to work collaboratively to complete a supervised project of independent study. Each ISP or CSP receives 3 credits. A combined total of 9 credits of ISP/CSP may be undertaken toward your degree. ISPs and CSPs are available Fall, Wintersession, and Spring. They may not be taken during the summer.

Students interested in an ISP or CSP must:

  • have a GPA of 3.00 or above

  • request the guidance of an appropriate faculty member(s) in planning and pursuit of the project prepare a thorough proposal outlining the purpose and scope of the project

  • complete an application (available on the Registrar's site)

  • submit the completed application according to the instructions on the form before the end of the Add/Drop period of the Fall, Wintersession, or Spring semester.*

  • *NOTE: Some departments require an earlier submission

Q. What other options do I have for interdisciplinary study?

A. The Interdisciplinary Study Option (ISO) permits students to augment their major with credits earned outside their department. Between 3 and 12 ISO credits may be counted for major credit.

Students interested in the ISO must:

  • be in their junior year
  • have a GPA of 3.50 or higher
  • meet with heads of the relevant departments to obtain permission and discuss a plan
  • submit a proposal stating the reasons his/her major studies will be enhanced by study in another discipline
  • complete an application (available from the Registrar)

3-credit INTERNSHIPS are permitted in the Fall, Wintersession, and Spring semesters, and over the summer. Students interested in an internship:

  • may take their first internship in the summer after sophomore year
  • may seek their own internship opportunities or consult with the RISD Career Center and department listings or a department internship coordinator for opportunities
  • may take a maximum of 6 internship credits toward their degree
  • must complete an application on the Artworks website
  • must complete the registration process before the internship begins or no later than one week into the internship*
  • International students on the F1 Student Visa must obtain work authorization from the Office of International Student Services to participate in any off-campus internships in the United States.

*NOTE: Some departments require an earlier submission

Q. How can I take a course at Brown?

A. Through a long-standing agreement between the two institutions, RISD degree candidates may enroll in courses at Brown University and vice versa. In order to enroll and for credit to be granted for a course taken at Brown, the course must be approved using the cross-registration form by the student’s department head or the Dean of Liberal Arts and meet the student’s degree requirements.