Adult Certificate Programs FAQs


RISD|CE Certificate Programs are designed to facilitate personal and professional development, by engaging students in sustained exploration and learning in specific creative disciplines. These non-credit certificates equip students with skills, confidence, proficiency and real world experience to accelerate creative lives and work.

For people who want to make a sustained commitment to their creative learning, RISD|CE certificates can help you develop your portfolio, explore a new career path or life pursuit, expand an existing career or start your own business. Widely acknowledged by employers and the creative sector, certificate completion demonstrates the level of interest, commitment and ability necessary to seriously advance your skills.

Most certificates require 378 hours of study: 162 hours in the Core level and 216 hours of study in the Concentration level of your choice. Jewelry + Light Metals requires 324 hours of study; 162 hours in the Core level and 162 hours in the Concentration level. Students enroll in certificate courses at their own pace, but an approximate timeframe for certificate completion is 2 years – taking 14 or 15 courses consecutively.

Programs are led by diverse, expert faculty – academics, creative practitioners, entrepreneurs and industry leaders – with professional connections to the creative economy.

All certificates are open admission. Students interested in professional or personal growth must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Just fill out the Certificate Application Form. No portfolio is required for admission.

Certificate Structure

All certificates begin with the Core: study in the fundamental skills of drawing, design, color, digital and other technique building. This is followed by the Concentration: study in specific disciplines (such as graphic design, painting, interactive design, illustration, etc.). Core study is a requirement of every certificate – providing a sound base for subsequent learning in specific disciplines and we highly recommend students complete the the Core level before moving on to the Concentration level. Completion of both levels is required to earn a certificate. While each certificate has a slightly different set of core courses, a student is able to go into any certificate once they have completed the core level. It is recommended that courses in the certificate be taken sequentially according to the curriculum guides.

Most courses in the Concentration levels have prerequisites. We encourage you to pay attention to the listed prerequisite so that you can learn effectively and contribute to the classroom community more productively.


Yes, you may take courses that apply to a certificate program for up to a year before submitting your Certificate Application to a certificate program. All courses in the certificate Core apply, and that may be a good place to start. If you aren’t sure, please contact our staff in advance of enrolling in courses to ensure that they apply.

Most certificates have electives – courses the student is able to select independently of the requirements. There is a lot of flexibility with this choice; to be certain it counts toward your certificate, the two-letter program code followed by an “E” for elective (for example: ID-E) at the end of a course description indicates if it is a pre-approved elective and applies to your certificate.

While RISD|CE certificate programs do not offer college credit, they prepare you for work in specific sectors or more advanced studies.

In some cases, yes. You may waive up to 4 courses based on previous study or work experience. You will need to apply for a waiver and submit a transcript and course description, or resume and position description, for the courses you want waived. You can request a Course Waiver/Substitution Form by emailing and submit it according to the directions on the form. Once you submit this, it will be reviewed and you will be notified if approved. Only Core level courses may be waived. For specific information, please see Certificate Program Policies.

A substitution for a required course may be approved if you have equivalent experience of the required course and wish to substitute it. The substituted courses must be equivalent in level and number of hours. You will need to fill out a Course Waiver/Substitution Form and submit it according to the directions on the form. Once you submit this, it will be reviewed and you will be notified if approved. For specific information, please see Certificate Program Policies.

Certificate students may request a leave of absence for the period of one year. To take a leave of absence, please send a written request to the Associate Director for Enrollment + Operations, During this time, the requirements of your program stay the same until you enroll again at the end of that year. However, if you do not enroll after the approved leave period, any changes to your certificate program that were made in your absence will then apply to you.

Students who do not take courses pertaining to their certificate program will be made inactive. This means that you will not receive important updates to the certificate programs, messages to active candidates, etc. Also, any changes to your certificate program that were made while you were inactive will then apply to you if you re-enter the program.

It is easy to be reinstated. Simply send an email to the CE Office at State your request to be reinstated to your previous program and ask to be informed of any changes to your program while you were inactive.

RISD|CE does not offer an option to audit a course.

Internships to satisfy program requirements are not available, but we encourage you to seek out ways to practically apply what you are learning in the program.

Yes. Any course over 18 hours is graded with a letter grade. Any course meeting for less than 18 hours is graded only as pass/fail.


With an average certificate program completion cost of $6,875 to $8,600 depending on the program you choose, students pay per course – making the program both accessible and affordable.

Financial aid is available in the form of a limited number of scholarships for the Spring and Fall terms only. RISD|CE programs do not qualify for federal or state financial aid through the FAFSA. To be considered for a scholarship, complete the Scholarship Application Form by the term’s scholarship application deadline (listed on the RISD|CE calendar).

Some courses have additional fees to cover the costs of materials or models. These fees typically do not exceed $100 per course, and are specified in course description information.


Yes. Certificate Program Graduation is held in June. Students who petition to graduate in the Fall receive information about the graduation the following Spring.

You must complete all of programmatic courses with a grade of C- or better and have paid all fees attached to your account. If you have petitioned for any waivers, they must be reflected on your transcript.

Petition to Graduate forms are sent by email to eligible certificate students during the Fall registration period. If you are ready to graduate, but did not receive a petition, please call the CE Office at 401 454-6200.

The Certificate Application Form is available here and in the CE Office, or you may call the CE Office to request that one be sent to you. You may also request it by email at