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D12.0 Graduation Requirements


  1.  Satisfactorily meet program requirements of the college. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. A cumulative grade point average of 2.00 (a “C” grade).


  1. Successful completion of all required courses of the university and college, including cooperative employment where applicable. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. A cumulative grade point average of 2.00 (a "C" average).

  3. A minimum of 30 credit hours shall be successfully completed in residence at the university in the college granting the degree (inclusive of service courses). If the student has successfully completed 30 credit hours in residence, a petition may be submitted to the dean to study 10 credit hours in absentia in the final year of the degree; at a minimum, 20 of the final 30 credit hours are to be completed in residence.

  4. Minimum number of credit hours as required by that college, but in no case shall this be less than 60 credit hours for the associate degree and 120 credit hours for the baccalaureate degree.

  5. Wellness requirements as published in the university’s official bulletin.

  6. Demonstrated competence in writing skills as established in the university’s writing policies (see D16.0).

  7. Full payment or satisfactory adjustment of all financial obligations.

  8. Candidates for the university’s associate and baccalaureate degrees are expected to attend commencement ceremonies.


Graduation requirements for an undergraduate academic award are based on the regulations and requirements printed in the RIT Bulletin in effect at the time of a student's matriculation into his or her program. A bulletin published after the matriculation date may be chosen by the student when it is to his/her advantage. The time limitation on this provision is that no student may graduate under the requirements of a bulletin published more than seven (7) calendar years prior to the date of graduation.

Courses are subject to change without notice and the university is not obligated to offer discontinued courses. Individual curriculum requirements may be adjusted upon the student’s request, and with the approval of the head of the student’s primary academic department.


  1. Satisfactorily meet program requirements of the college. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. A program cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (a "B" average).


  1. Successfully complete all required courses of the university and the college. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. A program cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (a "B" average).

  3. A minimum of 30 credit hours is required for the master’s degree. At least 80% semester credit hours of graduate level course work and research (courses numbered 600-900) are required to be earned in residence at the university.

    Exception: External master’s degree programs allow for varying amounts of acceptable graduate transfer credits and thus the residency requirement may be decreased, as approved by the Graduate Council and provost. Other exceptions pertaining to a group of students must be approved by the Graduate Council.

  4. Each degree granting program shall reserve the prerogative to require a thesis when appropriate. The thesis requirement may be waived and replaced by other appropriate research or comparable professional achievement as an integral part of the graduate program.

  5. Full payment or satisfactory adjustment of all financial obligations.

  6. The Seven-Year Rule

    Normally, the student shall complete requirements within seven years of the time of initial registration for graduate study. The purpose of the seven-year requirement in graduate programs is to ensure currency of coursework at the time of graduation, and to deal with extenuating circumstances that may have prevented timely completion of degree.

    At the master’s level, all requirements for the degree must be completed within seven years of the date of the oldest course counted toward the student’s master’s degree. (For example, if the first course counted toward the degree is taken in the fall term of 2010, that degree must be completed by the end of the summer term of 2016.)


The observance of the seven-year requirement is a joint responsibility of the graduate student, the graduate program director, and the Office of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Student - The student is responsible for management of any responsibilities in addition to his/her course or study that may have impact on the time for graduation. The student is responsible for maintaining frequent and timely communication with the program director and if applicable thesis graduate faculty advisor toward this end. The student initiates the seven-year extension request for a petition to the graduate program director.

Graduate Studies Office - The dean of Graduate Studies, in coordination with the Registrar’s Office, will conduct an Institute-wide independent yearly audit of all graduate students that have been in a program five years or longer, and provide this information to the program directors, recommending action as appropriate.

Graduate Council - The Graduate Council is the oversight body charged with assuring the integrity of the process. The Graduate Council assigns the dean of Graduate Studies to act on its behalf in granting extensions to the seven-year rule. The Graduate Council assigns a subcommittee to decide on extension requests of unusual complexity.

Petitions for Extensions to the Seven-Year Graduation Rule

In cases where the fulfillment of degree requirements may extend beyond the seven year limit, the student’s graduate director will petition the dean of Graduate Studies for a formal extension. The request must originate with the graduate student. The student must document extenuating circumstances that prevented completion of the degree within the seven year limit. Please note the following important requirements for these petitions:

  • Application for an extension shall be submitted by the student to the dean of Graduate Studies prior to the expiration of the seven-year time limit.

  • When a student’s program is projected to exceed the seven-year limit, the student should not be encouraged to take courses or work on a thesis or final project until a decision has been made by the dean of Graduate Studies or, when necessary, the Graduate Council.

Documents included in the petition submitted to the dean of Graduate Studies by the graduate program director shall include the following:

  • Petition support signed by graduate program director.

  • Petition support signed by Dean’s Office or equivalent representative.

  • Detailed plan for completion of degree, addressing each unmet requirement. Generally, no more than one calendar year’s extension will be granted. This should be developed and agreed to jointly by the student, student’s advisor, and with oversight/concurrence of the graduate program director.

  • Circumstances that delayed completion of degree.

  • RIT graduate transcript (and, where relevant, undergraduate transcript).

  • Current resume.

  • A copy of thesis proposal or final project proposal if applicable.

  • A list of courses that will be older than seven years (and by how much) at the projected date of graduation. As part of the petition, the graduate program director will provide confirmation of the currency of courses beyond the seven-year limit.

  • Letter of support from the graduate program director or graduate faculty advisor.

A seven year extension is granted by the dean of Graduate Studies on behalf of the Graduate Council. In cases of unusual complexity (e.g., appeals of an unfavorable decision by the dean of Graduate Studies and/or Graduate Program Director, etc.), the request for an extension may be forwarded to the chair of Graduate Council to be distributed to a subcommittee of the Graduate Council for consideration. The subcommittee will consist of the following individuals or their representatives:

  • Graduate Council representative from requesting college

  • Graduate Council representative from another college

  • Graduate Program Director submitting the petition

  • Dean of Graduate Studies

  • Chair of Graduate Council

The graduate faculty advisor may be present at this meeting. Decisions are usually made by the Graduate Council subcommittee at the time of the meeting and the student and graduate program director are notified formally by the dean of Graduate Studies.

Petitions for a one-year extension are considered on a case-by-case basis.


  1. Successfully complete all courses, research, examinations, defense of dissertation, and submission of a final accepted dissertation. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of three years of full-time study or the equivalent.

    1. Courses required for the degree are defined by the individual program. A minimum of 60 credit hours of graduate-level coursework is required.

    2. A maximum of 30 credits may be granted from previously completed coursework.

    3. In consultation with their advisor, students will develop a plan of study during their first term of study that must be approved by the Ph.D. program director. Revisions to the original plan of study must also be approved by the program director.

    4. The number of research hours will vary depending upon the amount of course credits earned. The sum of course and research credits will total a minimum of 60 credits. There must be a minimum of 18 credit hours of research.

    5. Students must successfully complete a qualifying exam by the beginning of the third year of full-time study or its equivalent. Students are permitted two attempts to pass the exams.

    6. Upon successful completion of the qualifying exam, the student and advisor will organize a dissertation committee. The dissertation committee will provide advice and guidance throughout the dissertation process.

    7. Students will obtain approval of the dissertation topic and admission to doctoral degree candidacy through successful completion of the Candidacy Exam. The Candidacy Exam, which is prepared by the dissertation committee, must be taken no later than six months prior to defending the dissertation.

    8. A doctoral dissertation will make an original contribution to knowledge in the field and will be written in acceptable scholarly form.

    9. The final examination of the dissertation is open to the public and consists of an oral presentation in defense of dissertation research followed by questions from the audience. The dissertation committee will be joined by one or two outside examiners, to be appointed by the provost in consultation with the dissertation committee. One of the outside examiners will chair the final examination. Students who are failed on the dissertation defense cannot attempt the defense a second time, but may be considered for the master’s degree.

    10. Requirements for the degree must be completed within seven (7) years of the date students pass the qualifying exam.

    11. The student must register for a minimum of 9 academic credits in each of 2 consecutive terms excluding summer and intersession to establish residency.

    12. A program cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher (a “B” average) is required for graduation.

    13. Full payment or satisfactory adjustment of all financial obligations must be made prior to graduation.

    Note: The dean and program faculty can be petitioned, in extraordinary circumstances, to review and judge the case of individual students who believe the spirit of the above requirements has been met, yet fall short of the particular requirement. If the petition is accepted and approved by the faculty, dean, and provost, a signed copy will be sent to the registrar for inclusion in the student’s academic record. 

    Note: An original copy of each thesis and dissertation submitted and accepted for an advanced degree conferred by RIT is to be housed in the library, and will become the property of the library. The library will assume the responsibility of fully cataloging all theses and dissertations and placing them in the RIT collection. Theses and dissertations will not circulate and, except with the written permission of the author, will not be duplicated.

    Note: The Ph.D. graduate residence requirement implies that following the application of all waived credit, transfer credit and credit by examination, the remaining program results in a minimum of 50% of the earned credit hours are at the graduate level of the university.


    An "R" (registered) grade is given to indicate that a student has registered for graduate thesis or dissertation work for a graduate paper. The student has yet to meet the total requirements for the course or has continuing requirements to be met. Completion of work represented by the “R” will be noted by having the approved thesis/dissertation title, as received by the Registrar from the program, recorded on the student’s official transcript. "R" graded courses are allowed in the calculation of the residency requirement for graduate programs.


    In those programs where a thesis is required, if the student has enrolled in thesis/dissertation credits but has not finished the thesis/dissertation itself, it is the responsibility of the student to register each term for a one semester credit hour Continuation of Thesis/Dissertation course. Programs may offer graduate students one term extension of time before the continuation of thesis/dissertation tuition is levied. For the term in which the continuation of thesis/dissertation tuition is not to apply, the student will enroll for "0" hours. Payment of all continuation of thesis/dissertation tuition is waived for all summer terms.

    1. Once work has begun on a thesis/dissertation, it is seen as a continuous process until all requirements are completed. It is the student’s responsibility to register each term for a one credit hour Continuation of Thesis/Dissertation course if the student has completed the program thesis course work but not the thesis itself.

    2. The Continuation of Thesis/Dissertation course will be offered each term to accommodate this policy.

    3. If the student does not register for the Continuation of Thesis/Dissertation course for one credit hour, the program may either:

      1. Enroll the student for "0" credits (using a drop/add form) for which no tuition is assessed in order to maintain enrollment for one term only, excluding summer; or

      2. Remove the student from the program.

      Program chairs will inform the registrar of their action.

    4. The length of time to complete a thesis/dissertation is at the option of the program. However, the thesis/dissertation and all other graduation requirements must be completed within the period stipulated by the relevant policy.

    Responsible Offices:
    Academic Senate and the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Inquiries can be directed to:

    Academic Senate:

    Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs:       

    Effective Date:
    Approved May 1957

    Policy History:
    Last revised October 10, 1996
    Edited November 2, 2006
    Edited September 2010
    Revised May 2, 2013
    Revised April 24, 2014 - section V.C


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