Frequently Asked Questions
What time should we plan to arrive for the ceremony?
The ceremony starts at 10:30am, but graduating students need to begin lining up in the West Lobby of the Convention Center no later than 9:30. The seating area opens to family members and friends at 9:30am, with seats available on a first-come, first-served basis. While there’s plenty of seating for everyone, the best seats tend to fill up relatively fast.
Where should we park?
Paid parking is available in a garage adjacent to the Convention Center.
Do you make special accommodations for the elderly or disabled?
Yes. Please contact the Office of Student Affairs at 401 454-6796 or firstname.lastname@example.org in advance for information on entry and seating arrangements. Graduating students will also be able to provide this information when reserving tickets for the ceremony. Handicapped parking spots are available in the Convention Center garage.
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 over 600, RISD still prefers to read the name of each individual graduate as he or she walks 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 Painting], a member of the Foundation Studies faculty. At Friday’s 10am 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?
Each graduate is asked to stop by the Registrar’s table in the Convention Center lobby immediately after the ceremony to pick up his or her official Benson diploma. Anyone not planning to attend the ceremony should contact the Registrar’s Office to make alternate arrangements.
Do RISD students actually wear caps and gowns at Commencement?
Yes and no. Students are issued inexpensive 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.
Travel to RISD
RISD is located just off of I-95 and I-195 on the East Side of Providence (in a neighborhood known as College Hill).
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 800 392-6100.
Directions to the Providence station.
Peter Pan/Bonanza bus line runs daily trips to Boston, Cape Cod, Newport, Albany, New York City, and Logan and T.F. Green airports. Schedules can be found at peterpanbus.com and 401 751-8800; toll-free: 888 751-8800.
Greyhound schedules and fares can be found at greyhound.com and 800 229-9424 +1 402 330-8552 (International areas without toll-free access) 800 752-4841 (assistance for passengers with disabilities) 800 345-3109 (TDD).
For easy and inexpensive transportation within Rhode Island, including buses, trolleys and Providence/Newport ferries, consider using Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) at ripta.com.
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: 888 268-7222; in Rhode Island: 401 737-8222.
Once you are at the airport you can take the inexpensive T.F. Green 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 800 23-LOGAN. Logan is about an hour from Providence, depending on traffic.
For Block Island Ferry service from Point Judith and Newport, RI and New London, CT to Block Island follow this link to blockislandferry.com for complete schedules, fares and routes. Schedules vary seasonally.
For the Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island Ferries service from Woods Hole, MA, Hyannis, MA, and New Bedford, MA to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island follow this link to islandferry.com. Schedules vary seasonally.
Alamo | 800 327-9633
Avis | 800 831-2847
Budget | 800 527-7000
Dollar | 800 800-4000
Hertz | 800 654-3131
National | 800 227-7368
Thrifty | 800 847-4389
Some hotels in the Providence area offer special rates for RISD family and friends attending Commencement, including the Providence Biltmore and the Omni Providence. Please contact the individual hotels for further information.