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 396 hours of study: 162 hours in the Core level and 234 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 2.5 to 3 years – taking 14 or 15 courses consecutively.

No, we do not have full-time status in Continuing Education. The certificate programs are designed to be taken part-time to accommodate students with work and family responsibilities. Also, facilities are shared with RISD degree program students who use them during the day.

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

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/No Pass.

All certificates are open admission. Students interested in professional or personal growth must be 18 years or older.

Yes, adult international students are welcome to join the certificate program. However, there is no residential option and certificate students do not qualify for F-1 visa status.

The Certificate Application Form is available online 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 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 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.

Prerequisites are courses that provide skills and learning outcomes necessary to progress to a higher level course. Most courses in the Concentration levels have prerequisites. We strongly encourage you to abide by all listed prerequisites so that you can learn effectively and contribute to the classroom community more productively.

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.


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.

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 Assistant Director, Advising + Registration, 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, your status will become inactive and 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.


With an average certificate program completion cost of $5,575 to $7,925 depending on the program you choose, students pay per course – making the program both accessible and affordable.

Partial scholarships for the fall and spring terms may be available to students in the Certificate and Young Artist programs who demonstrate significant financial need. RISD CE programs do not qualify for federal or state financial aid through the FAFSA. Scholarship awards are limited and the amounts vary based on the quantity of qualified applications received. When granted, award amounts usually offset a portion of the tuition for a single course only. Awards are occasionally granted to qualified non-certificate students if funds are available. Applicants who have attended RISD CE courses or who have applied for scholarships in previous semester(s) must be in good standing with RISD CE.

To apply, submit the following materials by the fall or spring scholarship application deadline specified on the RISD CE calendar. Late applications will not be processed.

  • RISD CE Scholarship Application
  • RISD CE Registration Form
  • A copy of your most recent tax return
  • A copy of your most recent pay voucher(s) or proof of current income, such as Social Security or unemployment benefit statement, etc. If student is a minor, parent/guardian’s income information must be supplied.

Submit your completed application along with the necessary income documentation:

By Mail:
Extension Scholarships
Two College StreetProvidence, RI  02903-2787

By Fax: 401 454-6218

By Email:

In person: RISD CE Office, 345 South Main Street, second floor, Providence.

Note: Do not include payment with the scholarship application. Once award decisions have been made, students will receive a letter, including payment information and instructions for accepting or declining the award.

Questions? Please contact the RISD CE Office at 401 454-6200 or

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 required and elective courses in your program with a grade of C- or better; you must not have an outstanding balance on your account. Complete and submit the Petition to Graduate form, which is emailed to eligible certificate students in the Fall term. If you have requested any waivers, be sure they are reflected on your transcript with WV as the grade.

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.