large group of gowned students throw their caps in the air

A vibrant celebration, Commencement offers a joyous opportunity for family and friends to mark this significant milestone with graduates of both our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Graduating students are encouraged to have fun and transform their caps and gowns in idiosyncratic ways to make a more personal artistic statement.

Commencement 2021

Celebrate with us on June 5, 2021

This year RISD will host a Commencement event that includes both an online speaking program and an in-person processional and degree conferral, so that the Class of 2021 can safely celebrate their accomplishments together. This is made possible by Rhode Island’s recent expansion of outdoor event capacity to 500, with a potential further increase to 1,000 people in May. We are finalizing details for the in-person event and will announce them soon, contingent upon approval by the State of Rhode Island.

For families and friends, attendance of both the speaking program and processional will be online. While we wish we could welcome guests to attend the processional in person, we have determined that it is not safe to do so. None of this is how we wish it to be, but at the center of our planning is the celebration of this year’s graduating students in ways that are meaningful and safe given current circumstances.

We encourage you to visit for information and updates about our Commencement plans. To stay informed of RISD’s response to COVID-19, please visit

Recent Commencement ceremonies

Celebrating RISD’s Class of 2021

An in-person and online Commencement ceremony features student leaders from the classes of 2020 and 2021 and an eclectic array of honorary degree recipients.

A Call to Change the Narrative

Commencement keynote speaker Bryan Stevenson urged the Class of 2019 to combat injustice with hope and creativity.

Looking Ahead at Commencement

Thousands of family members and friends celebrate the accomplishments of the 672 new graduates who collected their hard-earned degrees on Saturday, June 2.