RISD Commencement 2017

Saturday, June 3 | 10:30 am
Rhode Island Convention Center
One Sabin Street
Providence, RI

Caps + Gowns

Students need to reserve their caps and gowns online. A link will be sent out in early March, with a reservation deadline in late April. During the week leading up to Commencement, students can pick up their cap and gown at the RISD Store.


Graduating students will receive an email in early March with information about reserving tickets for Commencement.

Students can reserve up to six tickets, with the option of requesting more. Based on demand, extra tickets will be allocated closer to the time of the event. (Note that graduating students do not need a ticket for themselves.)

Graduates may pick up tickets at Carr Haus the week leading up to Commencement. Each guest must have a ticket to get into the ceremony, so tickets must be picked up ahead of time.

Seating is open and available on a first-come, first-served basis. If guests require special seating (for the elderly, disabled or hearing impaired etc.), it can be requested the time of the reservation. Guests can also contact us at commencement@risd.edu to arrange for special seating.

For Families

If you’re coming to RISD from out of state or out of the country, you’ll need to consider various transportation options, which are spelled out below. It’s also important to book a place to stay as early as possible since hotels in and around Providence tend to fill quickly.

For those unfamiliar with campus, RISD is located just off of I-95 and I-195 in the College Hill neighborhood of Providence. Our official address is Two College Street.

Featured Hotels

Providence Hilton

21 Atwells Avenue
Providence, RI 02903
401 709-0335

Call 1 800 HILTONS and reference RISD Commencement for a special group rate. Rooms are limited and must be booked prior to April 3.

Renaissance Providence Downtown

5 Avenue of the Arts
Providence, RI 02903
866 630-0704

Book here or call 866 630-0704 for a special rate. Please use RISD Graduation Block when booking your stay.

The Dean Hotel

122 Fountain Street
Providence, RI 02903
401 455-DEAN

The Hotel Providence

311 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
401 861-8000

To book, call 401 861-8000 and reference RISD Commencement Room Block for a special rate.

The Marriott—Providence Downtown

One Orms Street
Providence, RI 02904
866 807-2171

Providence Courtyard by Marriott

32 Exchange Terrace
Providence, RI 02903
401 272-1191

The Hampton Inn & Suites

58 Weybosset Street
Providence, RI 02903
401 608-3500

Omni Providence Hotel

One West Exchange Street
Providence, RI 02903
800 843-6664

To book, call 800 THE-OMNI and reference RISD Commencement Room Block for a special rate.

Additional Providence Hotels

Ramada Inn

213 Taunton Avenue
Seekonk, MA 02771
508 336-8700

Wyndham Garden Providence

220 India Street
Providence, RI 02903
877 999-3223

The Providence Biltmore

11 Dorrance Street
Providence, RI 02903
401 421–0700



If you are planning to arrive in Providence by train, you can find schedules and fares at amtrak.com or 1 800 USA-RAIL (1 800 872-7245). Information concerning service between Providence and Boston on the Attleboro/Stoughton Line can be found at mbta.com and 1 800 392-6100.


Providence is about a 15-minute cab ride from T.F. Green Airport (PVD) in Warwick, RI. You can find information on flights at pvdairport.com. Airport information: 1 888 268-7222; in Rhode Island: 401 737-8222.

Once you are at the airport, you can take the shuttle to your hotel.

If you are flying into Logan International Airport in Boston, MA (BOS), you can find flight information at massport.com/logan and 1 800 23-LOGAN. Logan is about an hour’s drive from Providence, depending on traffic.


Peter Pan bus company offers daily express service to Logan Airport in Boston and T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, RI, as well as to major metro areas such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Schedules are available online or by calling 1 888 751-8800 (toll-free) or locally, 401 751-8800.

Greyhound bus schedules and fares are available online or by calling 1 800 229-9424, +1 402 330-8552 (if you’re calling from abroad without toll-free access), 1 800 752-4841 (for assistance for passengers with disabilities) or 1 800 345-3109 (TDD).

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) offers local bus service for easy and inexpensive transportation within Rhode Island, including Providence/Newport ferries.


For information and schedules for Block Island ferry service from Point Judith and Newport, RI and New London, CT, follow this link: blockislandferry.com. Schedules vary seasonally.

For Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island ferry service from Woods Hole, MA; Hyannis, MA; and New Bedford, MA, follow this link: islandferry.com. Schedules vary seasonally.

Rental cars

Alamo | 800 651-1223

Avis | 800 633-3469

Budget | 800 218-7992


Dollar | 800 800-4000

Hertz | 800 704-4473

National | 800 222-9058

Thrifty | 800 847-4389

Frequently asked questions

What time should we plan to arrive for the ceremony?

Doors open at 9:30 am. Tickets are required to enter but seating is unreserved and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Doors will close at 10:15 am for approximately 15 minutes as the stage party and graduating students process into the hall. Guests should plan to arrive prior to 10:15 am or be prepared to wait until the doors reopen at approximately 10:30 am.

Where should we park?

Paid parking is available in a garage attached to the Rhode Island Convention Center. For other parking options visit parkdowntownprovidence.com.

Do you make special accommodations for the elderly or disabled?

Yes. Graduating students will be able to provide this information when reserving tickets for the ceremony. You can also feel free to contact us in Student Affairs at commencement@risd.edu or 401 454–6600 well in advance for information on entry and seating arrangements. The Convention Center is an accessible building, and the ceremony is all on one level (no stairs). Accessible parking spots are available in the Convention Center garage.

Guests with mobility needs requiring shuttle service to receptions on Friday, June 2 or the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 3 should call RISD Rides at 401 427-6915. RISD Rides drivers are professionally licensed chauffeurs who have undergone background checks by First Transit. RISD Rides drivers wear a First Transit uniform and a photo badge that you may ask to see at any time.

How long does the ceremony usually last?

The procession, speeches, awards presentations and other pomp and circumstance generally take more than two hours. Even though the graduating class now numbers close to 700, RISD still prefers to read the name of each individual graduate as they walk across the stage.

Is there anything special about RISD's diploma?

Every RISD graduate receives an academic diploma designed by the late John Howard Benson, a distinguished sculptor and calligrapher who taught at RISD from 1931–44. Each diploma is hand-lettered by calligrapher and alumna Alba Corrado 60 PT, a member of the Experimental and Foundation Studies faculty. At the Friday morning rehearsal, students also receive a “design diploma” — a fun commemorative object designed by a member of the graduating class.

Since official diplomas aren't given out at the ceremony, when do students get them?

Graduates will be directed to the Registrar’s table immediately after the ceremony to pick up their official Benson diploma.

Do RISD students actually wear caps and gowns at Commencement?

Yes and no. Students are issued standard black caps and gowns in advance and encouraged to use their creative talents to make them their own. Some choose to wear the gowns and mortarboards as issued, while others go all out embellishing them or creating other eye-opening costumery. Some simply opt to wear their own clothing – whether fancy or casual. The result: RISD’s ceremony is generally more festive, colorful and informal than most.

Are there any options for guests to stay on campus?

Families looking for affordable accommodations in traditional-style residence halls may be able to book a room, though we only have a limited number of on-campus housing accommodations available. For more information, please email housing@risd.edu.

Will there be translation services available at Commencement?

During the Graduate Hooding Ceremony on Friday, June 2, as well as during our Commencement ceremony, we will have an ASL translator on stage.

What other events in Providence are taking place Commencement weekend?

Providence will be hosting the PVDFest from June 1-4. For information regarding PVDFest, street closures and parking, please visit PVDFest.com | parkdowntownprovidence.com.


Commencement questions?

please contact Student Affairs

RISD’s main phone number

Registrar's Office

degree requirements / academic status

Diane Walker or Brianna Smith

401 454-6151​

Student Accounts

billing questions / financial matters

Alumni Relations