Policies + Disclosures

Graduate Full-time Enrollment Requirement

The college’s resources are designed to serve its full-time students and do not allow for the unrestricted enrollment of part-time students. Graduate students are required to enroll in no fewer than 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester in order to remain in good academic standing.

Authorization to attend on reduced load may be granted by petition only as a needed accommodation for students registered with Disability Support Services, for appropriate, documented medical reasons, and for legitimate academic reasons. While it is typically preferable for a student with a disability to be accommodated through methods such as academic advising and academic adjustments, it may in some circumstances be appropriate for the student to seek the further accommodation of requesting a reduced course load. Factors such as employment, extracurricular activities, family/personal obligations, inadequate academic preparation, failure to make use of appropriate academic accommodations, or poor class attendance are not in themselves acceptable reasons for a reduced course load. 

Authorization to attend on reduced load must be requested of the Academic Standing Committee no later than one month prior to the start of the term for which the reduced course load is requested. A request based on a disability must be supported by appropriate documentation and reviewed and endorsed by the Office of Disability Support Services. The request must also be accompanied by the student’s coursework plan for the completion of the student’s degree, signed and approved by the student’s Graduate Program Director and department head. 

Students normally are charged the full-time tuition fee even when authorized to attend on reduced load (fewer than 12 credits). Exceptions to this requirement may be made in the case of medical or disability-related reductions.  

Students attending on an approved reduced load remain eligible for the same benefits and privileges as students enrolled full time. However, students allowed to attend on reduced load should follow up with the Financial Aid Office to determine whether their aid will be adversely affected. Also, RISD students are not eligible for RISD sponsored student health insurance if enrolling in less than 9 credits for a term. Reduced load students must check with non-RISD providers (such as personal health insurance and non-college-sponsored scholarships) as these and other services may be adversely affected by the reduction in semester hours. 

Outside entities are not bound by the college’s decision to grant a reduced course load/full-time status designation.

Additional Information for International Students (F-1 visas)
International students generally are required by Federal visa regulations to enroll full time and maintain full-time status. There are very limited circumstances in which a reduced load for medical or academic reasons may be granted. An international student who is granted reduced load for medical reasons may be granted such reduction for not more than 12 months, which may or may not be consecutive. A reduced load granted for allowable academic reasons may be granted for only one semester. An international student seeking a reduced load should seek advice from the Office of International Student Services prior to filing the request.


Biking is big at RISD – despite the killer hill.