Frequently asked questions
Undergraduate students complete 126 total credits on their way to earning a BFA, as follows:
- Experimental and Foundation Studies: 18 credits
- Degree program: 54 credits
- Liberal Arts: 42 credits
- Non-major studio electives: 12 credits
Students in Architecture earn an additional 30 credits on their way to completing the five-year Bachelor’s in Architecture (BArch) degree program. Brown|RISD Dual Degree students have unique curriculum requirements for completing the program.
You may take a maximum of 12 credits from other accredited schools after enrolling at RISD. Approval must be granted by your department head or, for Liberal Arts courses, the dean of the Liberal Arts division.
More information about transfer credits is available from the Registrar’s Office.
Students must take 12-15 credits each fall and spring and 3 during Wintersession.
Students who do not elect the minimum credits in a given semester will be placed on academic probation and may jeopardize their scholarships and/or financial aid. International students who do not meet the minimum required credits will be in violation of their immigration status.
Taking fewer than the minimum credits in any semester requires advanced approval from the Academic Standing Committee. You may be eligible for reduced course loads if you are registered with Disability Support Services, have a documented medical condition and/or have academic reasons determined legitimate by the Academic Standing Committee.
Contact the Registrar’s Office or your academic advisor with questions or if you think you might need to take a reduced credit load in an upcoming semester.
Students are typically charged full tuition and fees even when authorized to take a reduced credit load. Exceptions may be made in the case of medical or disability-related reductions. Contact Student Financial Services for more information.
If you are a first-year student you will need to consult with the dean of Experimental and Foundation Studies. All other students may follow the guidelines below.
Students can add a course during the add/drop period via WebAdvisor or, if necessary, by obtaining signed permission from the instructor via the official add/drop form. You must submit this form to the registrar.
You may drop a course during the add/drop period via either WebAdvisor or the add/drop form. If your major department registered you for a specific course in your major, they can also drop you from the course.
It is very important that you follow all instructions and submit any required forms during the add/drop period. If you fail to do so you will either receive an “F” on your academic record or be considered “unregistered” and therefore not graded, recorded or credited for the course.
To add a course after the add/drop period you must follow the exception to academic policy procedure as set by the Registrar’s Office.
To drop a course after the add/drop period but before the withdrawal deadline passes you will need your instructor’s approval and complete a course withdrawal form (click here for form instructions). You cannot drop a course without your instructor’s approval or after the withdrawal period ends. If you stop attending or completing work without formally withdrawing from the course, you will receive an “F” or “UW” (for unofficial withdrawal) on your academic record.
Since double majoring is not an official option at RISD, student requests to double major are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you want to elect a double major—or a “primary” and “secondary” major—you need to work with both department heads to get written permission for a feasible degree plan.
Students must declare intent to double major by the middle of junior year and should expect to stay at RISD for an additional year. You must complete requirements for both majors in order to graduate, unless you formally undeclare a double major. To do so, you will need to notify your advisor(s), the department heads for both majors and the Registrar’s Office.
One way is to take an Independent Study Project (ISP). An ISP allows you to complete a faculty-supervised project in an area of interest that supports your course of study. If two students would like to work on a similar project for credit, they can register for a Collaborative Study Project (CSP).
Students earn 3 credits for each ISP or CSP, and can receive a maximum of 9 ISP/CSP credits toward their degree. To elect an ISP or CSP, you must:
- have a GPA of 3.00 or more
- choose a faculty member who will supervise the project
- prepare a proposal outlining the purpose and scope of the project
- complete an ISP/CSP application and submit it according to instructions before the end of the semester add/drop period
The Interdisciplinary Study Option (ISO) lets students augment their major with coursework taken outside their home department. You may count 3–12 ISO credits toward your degree. To be eligible to elect the ISO you must:
- be in your junior year
- have a 3.50 GPA or higher
- meet with the relevant department heads to discuss a plan and get permission
- submit and complete an ISO application
Students are eligible to take internships beginning in the summer after their sophomore year, and can receive 3 credits upon completion. A total of 6 internship credits can count toward your degree.
You may either search for opportunities on your own or consult with your department’s internship coordinator and/or the Career Center. Complete your internship application through Artworks no later than one week into the internship. International students on an F1 student visa must obtain work authorization from the Office of International Student Services before participating in any off-campus internships in the US.
RISD degree candidates may enroll in Brown University courses and vice versa. To do so, the course must be approved by the head of your home department or, in the case of liberal arts-related courses, the dean of Liberal Arts.