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Undergraduate Graduation Requirements

General Requirements

To earn an academic credential from RIT, students must satisfy a number of graduation requirements, which may vary significantly from program to program. All students should seek out and use the academic advising resources within their colleges to assist them in planning their academic program of study. In general, students should expect to satisfy the following requirements before they can graduate from RIT:

A. Completion of academic curricula

  1. Students must satisfactorily complete all of the courses in their academic program. General education requirements and specific course requirements for each program are identified in the following pages. This bulletin, and careful consultation with an academic adviser, provides the best resources for planning and completing all of the requirements necessary for graduation.
  2. Program curricula may include several types of courses, including cooperative education, field experience, practicum, thesis, research, and wellness. Most students will need to satisfy a wellness requirement, and many academic programs require one or more semesters of experiential learning, including cooperative education or internships.
  3. The curriculum in effect at the time of admission into a program will normally be the curriculum one must complete in order to graduate. Occasionally, with departmental approval, course substitutions and other minor curricular modifications may occur. Although there is no time limit within which students must complete their course requirements, the curriculum under which a student is certified to graduate must be no more than seven years old.

B. Grade-point average standard

  1. Successful candidates for an undergraduate degree, diploma, or certificate must have a program cumulative grade-point average of at least 2.0. The physician assistant program requires a program cumulative grade-point average of 2.8 or higher.
  2. Graduation honors are conferred on associate and bachelor’s degree recipients who achieve a 3.40 or higher cumulative program GPA.

C. Residency and minimum earned hours

At least 30 of the credit hours used toward a degree program must be earned by successfully completing RIT courses. In addition, at least 20 of the final 30 credit hours of any program must be earned through RIT courses. Credit earned through transfer, credit by exam/experience, College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or audit is excluded from these residency calculations. RIT academic programs vary as to the total number of credit hours required; however, under no circumstances will a student be allowed to graduate with a bachelor’s degree with fewer than 120 cumulative earned hours (60 hours for associate degrees). Cumulative earned hours include RIT courses, transfer credit, credit by exam/experience, CLEP, AP, and IB credits.

D. Developing writing excellence

Following university policy, all students are required to complete three writing intensive courses before they graduate:

  • one First Year Writing course, to be taken in the first year;
  • one General Education Writing Intensive course, to be taken in the second or third year is recommended; and
  • one programmatic Writing Intensive course, year taken as required by the particular degree program.

First Year Writing is a General Education Foundations course that plays an essential role in students’ academic transition to the university. In FYW, students learn about the social and intellectual aspects of university writing, and develop critical literacy practices required for academic success. There are currently three FYW courses that fulfill this requirement:

  • FYW: Writing Seminar (UWRT-150)
  • FYW: The Future of Writing (ENGL-150)
  • FYW: Ethics in Computing (ISTE-110)

General Education Writing Intensive courses reinforce the knowledge and practices introduced in FYW. These courses are located throughout the Perspective and Immersion course categories and use writing to engage students in course content. Program Writing Intensive courses (identified on the typical course sequence charts with the designation “WI”) are located in disciplinary contexts and apprentice students in specific forms of writing. These courses reinforce the knowledge and practices introduced in FYW, and students gain mastery of written forms specific to the student’s major area of study.

E. Fulfillment of financial obligations

Students must fulfill all financial obligations to RIT before they can be certified to graduate.

General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (effective fall 2013)

Effective fall 2013, a new general education curriculum (Liberal Arts and Sciences–LAS) will be introduced coinciding with the university’s conversion from quarters to semesters. RIT’s framework for general education provides students with courses that meet specific university approved general education learning outcomes and New York State Education Department liberal arts and sciences requirements. Students in all bachelor of science degree programs are required to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours in General Education; students in all bachelor of fine arts degree programs are required to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours in General Education. The general education framework intentionally moves through three educational phases designed to give students a strong foundation, an introduction to fundamentals of liberal arts and sciences disciplines, and the opportunity for deeper study and integrative learning through immersion in a cluster of related courses.

The general education curriculum consists of the following requirements:

  1. Foundation courses—two courses in the first year that introduce students to the intellectual life of the university, and provide a focus on communication skills to prepare students for future coursework and life-long learning.
    1. LAS Foundation 1: First Year Seminar
    2. LAS Foundation 2: ENGL-150 Writing Seminar
  2. Perspectives—eight courses designed to introduce students to seven key areas of inquiry that develop ways of knowing the world. The perspective courses introduce students to fundamentals of a liberal arts and sciences discipline (methods, concepts, and theories) while addressing specific general education learning outcomes.
    1. Perspective 1 (ethical): Courses focus on ethical aspects of decision-making and argument, whether at the individual, group, national, or international level. These courses provide students with an understanding of how ethical problems and questions can be conceived and resolved, and how ethical forms of reasoning emerge and are applied to such challenges.
    2. Perspective 2 (artistic): Courses focus on the analysis of forms of artistic expression in the context of the societies and cultures that produced and sustained them. These courses provide insight into the creative process, the nature of aesthetic experience, the fundamentals of criticism and aesthetic discrimination, and the ways in which societies and cultures express their values through their art.
    3. Perspective 3 (global): Courses in this category encourage students to see life from a perspective wider than their own and to understand the diversity of human cultures within an interconnected global society. Courses explore the interconnectedness of the local and the global in today’s world or in historical examples, and encourage students to see how global forces reverberate at the local level.
    4. Perspective 4 (social): Courses focus on the analysis of human behavior within the context of social systems and institutions. Because RIT recognizes that student success depends on the ability to understand how social groups’ function and operate, these courses provide insight into the workings of social institutions’ processes.
    5. Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry): Science is more than a collection of facts and theories, so students are expected to understand and participate in the process of science inquiry. Courses focus on the basic principles and concepts of one of the natural sciences. In these classes, students apply methods of scientific inquiry and problem solving in a laboratory or field experience.
    6. Perspective 6 (scientific principles): Courses focus on the foundational principles of a natural science or provide an opportunity to apply methods of scientific inquiry in the natural or social sciences. Courses may or may not include a laboratory experience.
    7. Perspective 7A, 7B (mathematical): Courses focus on identifying and understanding the role that mathematics plays in the world. In these courses, students comprehend and evaluate mathematical or statistical information and perform college level mathematical operations on quantitative data.
  3. Immersion—a series of three related general education courses that further broaden a student’s judgment and understanding within a specific area through deeper learning.
  4. General Education electives—The remaining general education elective credits may be specified by the academic programs in order for students to fulfill supporting requirements (e.g. math or science, foreign languages, etc.). Some of these credits will be free general education electives that can be chosen by the students themselves. Credits in the perspectives category that exceed the minimum requirement will be applied toward the elective credits.

Wellness Education Requirement

RIT recognizes the need for wellness education in today’s society and offers specifically designed courses to help students develop and maintain a well-balanced healthy lifestyle. The wellness education requirement is designed to assist students in making healthy decisions to support their academic and social interactions in college and beyond. The wellness curriculum provides learning experiences that are an integral part of the educational experience at RIT.

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree: Students seeking a bachelor’s degree must successfully complete two different wellness activity courses. (Important note: Different courses would include different levels of and/or forms of a course that may have the same course number (e.g., pilates and advanced pilates would count as two different activity courses).

Students seeking an associate degree: Students seeking an associate degree must successfully complete one wellness activity course.

Transfer students: Transfer students may apply course work successfully completed at a previous institution. The student’s home department will determine and make decisions regarding transfer of health, wellness, or activity courses. The Center for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation is available for consultation.

Exemption Scenarios

Age: Students who are 25 or older at the date of matriculation are exempt from the wellness education requirement but may enroll in any course on a space-available basis.

Club sports participation: Students participating in an RIT-recognized club sport may be granted one activity course credit for the year of participation. Participation on the same club team for multiple seasons (e.g., four seasons) can be counted only one time for activity course credit toward the graduation requirement. Students must see the club sports adviser before the end of the spring semester add/drop period to facilitate the credit process.

Credit by experience: Retroactive credit may be granted for certain independent activities if completed within one year before matriculation at RIT. A formal written request must be submitted that clearly outlines the activity that is being considered for wellness education credit along with all documentation of the experience (e.g., signatures of instructors, copy of certificates, receipt from a course or seminar completion). A minimum of 16 hours of a previous activity is required. Formal requests should be submitted to the director of the Wellness Instructional Program.

Intercollegiate athletics: Students participating in the university’s intercollegiate athletic program will be granted wellness activity course credit for the season(s) of participation.

Intramural participation: No credit is granted for intramural sports participation.

Medical excuse: A medical excuse may exempt students from participation in the activity segment of the graduation requirement, but they must still enroll in First-Year Enrichment (during their freshman year). The exemption will be granted only by a college dean with input from the associate director of wellness for the Center for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation. One copy of the medical excuse (signed physician’s memo) should be filed with the Center for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation and the other copy taken to students’ academic department.

Military duty: Students who have completed six months or more of active military duty are not required to complete the wellness education program but are encouraged to enroll in any wellness course on a space-available basis.

Nonmatriculated status: Nonmatriculated students are exempt from the wellness education requirement but are encouraged to enroll in any wellness course on a space-available basis.

Prior bachelor’s degree: Students who have acquired a bachelor’s degree are exempt from the wellness education requirement.