May 29 – May 30
We are in the process of determining how COVID-19 may impact Commencement 2020. Updates will be shared as soon as possible. For the latest information about COVID-19 including answers to frequently asked questions, please visit our Health and Wellness site.
Graduate hooding ceremony + special receptions
First Baptist Church in America
75 North Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
ceremony starts at 1:30 pm
Doors open at 8:30 am. Admission is free but tickets are required to enter. Graduating students may reserve up to six tickets for their families by completing the Commencement 2020 ticket order form by April 27.
Event seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The ceremony starts at 9 am and generally runs for approximately two-and-a-half hours. Students can pick up their diplomas immediately after the ceremony.
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.
Hotels in Providence
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 Anne Colasanto at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
Ridesharing and car-sharing
RISD shuttle service
Guests with mobility needs requiring transportation from campus to receptions on Friday, May 31 or the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 1 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.
About the ceremony
Doors open at 8:30 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 8:45 am for approximately 15 minutes as the stage party and graduating students proceed into the hall. Guests should plan to arrive prior to 8:45 am or prepare to wait until the doors reopen at approximately 9:00 am.
The procession, speeches, awards presentations and other pomp and circumstance generally take more than two hours. Even though graduating number around 700 students, 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, and you may email us at email@example.com 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, Commencement programs will include an insert with ceremony information translated into 15 languages.
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.
This year more than 650 of you—458 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
Graduating students may reserve up to six (6) free tickets for guests and request additional tickets if desired. To do so please complete the Commencement 2020 ticket order form by April 27. Only requests by graduating students will be processed.
Based on demand, extra tickets will be allocated closer to the time of the event. In early May graduating students will receive an email providing more information about ticket pickup.
Seating is open and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about accessibility concerns for your family. Each guest must have a ticket to get into the ceremony hall, so tickets must be picked up ahead of time.
Caps + gowns
Rehearsal + student lineup
Rehearsal for Commencement is Friday, May 29 in the Convention Center at 9:45 am. All graduating students who wish to participate in the ceremony must attend rehearsal in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly on Saturday. After rehearsal students will receive their design diploma and many also pick up their RISD alumni card.
On the day of Commencement students need to arrive at the Dunkin Donuts Center at 8:15 am in order to line up for the ceremony.
Every graduating student receives an academic diploma designed by the late John Howard Benson, a distinguished sculptor and calligrapher who taught at RISD from 1931-56. Each spring Experimental and Foundation Studies faculty member Alba Corrado BFA 60 PT handwrites the names in calligraphy on each student’s graduate diploma.
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 immediately following the ceremony at the registrar’s table in Exhibition Hall D and at the Registrar’s Office on June 1–3 during regular business hours (8:30 am–4:30 pm). Any remaining diplomas will be mailed to students on Thursday, June 4 following an email notification.
Commencement at risd:store
risd:store offers a variety of diploma and picture frames, ornaments, jewelry and other accessories to commemorate your achievement. On the day of Commencement, RISD-related merchandise will also be available for purchase at the risd:store booth in the Convention Center.
Undergraduate + graduate student speakers
Each year two students—one undergraduate and one graduate—share their message with the RISD community by delivering speeches at Commencement. In mid March you will receive an email inviting you to propose a speech.
Brown|RISD Dual Degree Class of 2020
In concluding their unique academic experience, all Brown|RISD Dual Degree (BRDD) graduates give capstone presentations demonstrating the connections they’ve made between different fields of study and how the pursuit of a dual degree has advanced their work and learning.
Presentations will be held from noon to 5 pm on Tuesday, May 26 and Wednesday, May 27 at the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts’ Martinos Auditorium located on the nearby Brown University campus. All presentations are free and open to families, the Brown and RISD communities and the general public.
The two days of presentations will be followed by a recognition dinner at the Brown Faculty Club on Thursday, May 28 at 6 pm. Graduating BRDD students are asked to RSVP through an email to be sent to both their Brown and RISD email addresses and can reserve up to three (3) tickets for family and guests to attend.
Commencement week housing and meal plans
All graduating students who live on campus must move out by noon on Sunday, May 31. For those with remaining meal plan funds, your account balance will roll into a graduation week meal plan and be available for use until May 31.
Questions about housing? Contact Residence Life at email@example.com.