Rhode Island School of Design



illustrations by Karen Ko 18 IL
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Saturday, June 2 | 10:30 am

Rhode Island Convention Center
One Sabin Street
Providence, RI

Family members and friends are invited to join the entire RISD community in celebrating the Class of 2018 at this joyous event.

Bookmark this page for more in the coming weeks about this year’s ceremony, related events and other helpful information.

Plan ahead




Deadline for students to reserve tickets, caps and gowns









A series of social gatherings to celebrate the collective success of the Class of 2018




Graduate hooding ceremony + special receptions




Commencement 2018

Doors open at 9:30 am. Admission is free but tickets are required to enter. Students may reserve up to six tickets for their families in early spring. Event seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The ceremony generally runs until approximately 1 pm.

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Graduating students

More than 650 of you—463 undergraduates and 209 graduate students—are expected to accept degrees at our exceptionally festive and colorful ceremony. With that in mind, please feel free to embellish your cap and gown however you’d like or wear whatever feels most appropriate for celebrating this major milestone.

Tickets + seating

In early March you will receive an email about reserving tickets for Commencement.

You can reserve up to six tickets for your family, with the option of requesting more. (Based on demand, extra tickets will be allocated closer to the time of the event.)

You may pick up tickets during 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. Requests for special seating (for elderly, disabled or hearing-impaired guests, etc.) can be made at the time of the reservation. Guests can also contact us at commencement@risd.edu to inquire about accessibility concerns for your family.

Caps + gowns

You will need to reserve your cap and gown online. A link will be sent out in early March, with a reservation deadline of April 28.

Plan to pick up your cap and gown at the RISD Store between May 29–31 from 8:30 am–6:30 pm, or on June 1 from 8:30 am–1 pm. If you have not already placed an order, you may still be able to pick up a cap and gown the week before Commencement on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you have questions about your cap and gown, email risdstore@risd.edu.


Every graduating student receives an academic diploma designed by the late John Howard Benson, a distinguished sculptor and calligrapher who taught at RISD from 1931-44. At the commencement ceremony, you will be handed a scroll of paper in lieu of your official Benson Diploma, which will be available for pickup at the Registrar’s table immediately following the ceremony and at the Registrar’s Office on June 4–6 during regular business hours.


Each year graduating seniors create an original design for the RISD Yearbook. If you pre-ordered a yearbook, you will receive an email your copy arrives in May.

Please email csi@risd.edu with any questions.

Class rings

RISD does not offer an official class ring, but several alternative options are available at RISD WORKS.

Undergraduate + graduate student speakers

You may apply to address the Class of 2018 as this year’s undergraduate or graduate speaker. In early March you will receive an email inviting you to propose a speech.


Running from May 27 through June 1, CommenceFEST is a series of events that brings graduating students together in celebrating one another and the collective success of the Class of 2018. These social gatherings also help students discover resources that will aid them in achieving their goals as RISD's newest alumni.

Commencement week housing

If you live on campus, your housing will automatically be extended through Commencement week. All graduating students must move out by noon on Sunday, June 3.

If you live off campus and your lease ends on June 1, you can sign up to stay in the first-year quad through Commencement. Housing will be available from June 1 through June 3 and must be reserved by May 1 by completing the Commencement housing form.

All graduating student meal plans will be extended through June 2.

Questions about housing? Contact Residence Life at housing@risd.edu or 401 454-6650.

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If you’re coming to RISD from out of state or out of the country, you’ll need to consider various transportation options from those that are listed 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.

Information for international families + friends

If you are coming from outside the US and require a visa, you will need an official letter of invitation from RISD. Graduating students should contact the Office of International Student Services (OISS) to initiate the invitation process.

Homesharing + other options

Guests can rent short-term accommodations in Providence through Airbnb, the global hospitality marketplace founded by RISD alumni Brian Chesky 04 ID and Joe Gebbia 05 GD/ID.

For families seeking an affordable space on campus, there will be limited accommodations in traditional-style residence halls. Please email housing@risd.edu for more information.



Providence is about a 15-minute cab ride from Green Airport (PVD) in Warwick, RI. You can find information on flights at pvdairport.com or by calling +1 401 737-8222. 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-airport and +1 800 23-LOGAN (+1 800 235-6426). Logan is about an hour’s drive from Providence, depending on traffic.


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 +1 617 222-3200.


Peter Pan bus company offers daily express service to Logan Airport in Boston and 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 +1 401 751-8800.

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.

Rental cars

If you are traveling by plane and need to reserve a rental car, you can find a list of rental services on the Green Airport and Logan Airport websites.

Ridesharing and car-sharing

On-demand transportation is available through Uber and Lyft, and at dozens of zipcar locations on or near campus.

RISD shuttle service

Guests with mobility needs requiring transportation from campus to receptions on Friday, June 1 or the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2 should call RISD Rides at +1 401 427-6915.


Restaurants in Providence feature a wide variety of cuisines and dining experiences, many within a short walk of RISD’s College Hill campus and the downtown area surrounding the Commencement venue. Just a short drive away, the historic Federal Hill and eclectic West End neighborhoods offer even more popular dining options. Tables fill up fast throughout the city during Commencement week, so be sure to plan ahead as soon as possible.

Commencement day

About the ceremony

Doors open at 9:30 am, and we anticipate a crowd of 4,500 people on the day of the event. Guests will need general admission tickets to enter the convention hall. Seating will be available solely on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will close at 10:15 am for approximately 15 minutes as the stage party and graduating students proceed into the hall. Guests should plan to arrive prior to 10:15 am or prepare to wait until the doors reopen at approximately 10:30 am.

The procession, speeches, awards presentations and other pomp and circumstance generally take more than two hours. Even though the Class of 2018 now numbers more than 650, RISD still prefers to read the name of each individual graduate as they walk across the stage. Graduates receive their official diplomas immediately after the ceremony.


Paid parking is available in a garage attached to the Rhode Island Convention Center. For other options visit parkdowntownprovidence.com. For guests with mobility needs, accessible parking spots are available in the Convention Center garage.

Accessibility + accommodations

The Convention Center is an accessible building, and the ceremony takes place in a single-level convention hall without stairs. Graduating students can let us know about the special seating needs of their families when reserving tickets for Commencement. You may also email us at commencement@risd.edu or call +1 401 454-6776 well in advance for information on entry and seating arrangements.

An ASL translator will be on stage during the Graduate Hooding Ceremony as well as at Commencement. In addition, translated programs will be available at the information table outside the convention hall.

Commencement photographer

GradImages is the official photographer for RISD Commencement. Please go to their preregistration page to receive commencement proofs via email. Proofs may be ready to view and shared electronically as soon as 48 hours after the ceremony. GradImages also mails paper proofs and provides optional text message notifications. GradImages guarantees your privacy and will keep your information confidential.

If you have any questions about ordering photos, please email the GradImages Customer Service Department or call them at +1 800 261-2576.

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The weekend

Graduates, family members and friends begin celebrating with departmental receptions on Friday afternoon, when a Graduate Hooding Ceremony for those earning master’s degrees also takes place. The festivities continue on Saturday morning with the Commencement ceremony itself. Throughout the weekend, exhibitions of student work offer visitors a view into the amazing output of this year’s graduates.

Friday, June 1

Special ceremonies + departmental receptions​

Throughout the day various divisions and departments host celebratory gatherings and awards presentations open to graduating students, family members and friends.

Graduate Hooding Ceremony

First Baptist Church in America | 75 North Main Street

Graduate students will have a special hooding ceremony in the First Baptist Church in America as part of Commencement celebrations. (Students should be seated by 12:45 pm, and doors will open for guests at 1 pm.)

Fine Arts Reception

Woods-Gerry Gallery | 62 Prospect Street

Architecture + Landscape Architecture Reception

Bayard Ewing Building (BEB) | BEB Gallery | 231 South Main Street

Graphic Design Reception

Graphic Design Commons | 31 Canal Walk

Industrial Design Reception

ID Building | 161 South Main Street, 4th floor

Saturday, June 2

throughout the weekend

Grad Show 2018

Rhode Island Convention Center | One Sabin Street

a massive public show of work by master’s-degree students from the graduating class, the annual thesis exhibition transforms a 28,000-sf space into a network of smaller galleries, affording students an opportunity to showcase multiple pieces from a final body of work.

Graduate Selections

Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery | 169 Weybosset Street

graduate work from the class of 2018

Senior Invitational

Woods-Gerry Gallery | 62 Prospect Street

undergraduate work from the class of 2018

You’re Invited

Chace Center | Gelman Student Gallery | 20 North Main Street

curated by Madeleine Billings 20 PT, Mary Kuan 19 PT and Madison Whittington 19 PT

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Commencement questions?

please contact Institutional Engagement

RISD's main phone number

Registrar's office

degree requirements / academic status

Diane Walker or Brianna Smith

+1 401 454-6151


Office of International Student Services

Student Financial Services

billing questions / financial matters

Information Technology Services

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