RIT UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
Overview: Beginning with the 2013 semester conversion, all degree programs at RIT are now subject to the following overall parameters and guidelines. Credit hours refer to semester credit hours. Degree programs refer to all programs leading to either a bachelors, masters, or Ph.D. degree. GE refers to general education.
Parameters for undergraduate degree program curricula:
- Degree program requirements must comply with the established MSCHE, federal and state requirements. For more information, see: RIT Credit Hour Policy and Procedures.
- Undergraduate degree programs must be designed using a 5 x 3 semester model, must maximize student success, and allow students to complete programs with:
- A minimum of 120 to a maximum of 128 required semester credit hours;
- A minimum of 40 courses where there is a minimum of 32, 3 credit hour courses and a maximum of 8, 4 credit hour courses;
- An expected semester load of 15 or 16 credit hours with the understanding that some programs may find it necessary to occasionally extend this upper limit to 17 credit hours; and
- Up to four semester credit hours split into 1, 2 and 3 credit hour courses. Combinations of 1 and/or 2 credit hour courses are not substitute for 3 credit hour courses as stated in this Framework's 32, 3 credit hour course requirement.
- New programs that intend to include more than 4 credits in 1 or 2 credit hour courses must seek Provost approval by submitting an exception request to the Office of the Provost.
- In making this exception request, Department Chairs and the Program Directors should submit a short statement that explains the number and need for 1 and/or 2 credit hour courses in the curriculum and whether the program meets the 32, 3 credit hour course requirement. This statement should first be reviewed and validated by the program and college curriculum committee.
- Please note that undergraduate programs are neither expected nor required to include 1 or 2 credit hour courses; this guideline gives program designers a degree of freedom that is not explicitly stated in RIT's Program Framework. Department chairs and program administrators are encouraged to carefully examine the consequences of adding 1 and 2 credit hour courses to their curricula as it may impact student credit loads, faculty teaching loads, scheduling of facilities, etc.
- As a maturing institution, RIT will support associate degrees in the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and one associate degree at the university level, the Associate of Applied Science in Applied Arts and Science Degree.
- Every RIT undergraduate degree program will have at least 60 credit hours of “general education” (GE). Every RIT undergraduate BFA degree program will have at least 30 credit hours of GE. Any associate degree program will have at least 30 credit hours of GE.
- Students in BFA degree programs are required to take two courses (for total credit hours ranging between 6 and 8 credit hours) that map into the general education outcome category of “Scientific, Mathematical, and Technological Literacy.” Depending on programmatic design and need, these courses can come from approved general education courses and count toward the required 30 credit hours in General Education or be taken within the program or from another RIT academic unit and be part of the required program core.
- A typical semester load for undergraduate students will be between 15 and 17 credit hours.
- The university remains committed to and supportive of career-oriented education and programs with required co-op experiences. Any undergraduate degree program must demonstrate that students are able to complete the program of study in no more than four years. For those programs that require a co-op or some other experiential learning component, students must be able to complete the program of study in no more than five years. In particular, students should be able to complete any co-op or experiential learning experience in no more than 52 weeks.
- All undergraduate degree programs will contain at least 12 credit hours of entirely open electives within the degree program’s distribution requirements; these credits can be used to take courses anywhere within RIT for which the student qualifies. The purpose for 12 credit hours of open electives in a bachelor's degree is to provide a student with flexibility for breadth and depth to achieve their educational goals while at RIT. Consistent with the open elective goal of curricular flexibility, students can use open electives for an optional track in a program, graduate courses, certificate courses, courses in a minor, or just to take courses that pique their interest. For more information, see RIT Strategic Plan 2018-2025 - Goal #8: Restructure undergraduate degree requirements to ensure students have room to pursue broader curricular experiences, experiential learning, and 21st-century competencies.
- All minors will have a minimum of 15 credit hours. Curricular requirements for the bachelor's degree should have sufficient flexibility to permit students to earn a 15 credit minor. Due to prerequisites for courses in some minors, students may not be able to complete every minor within the minimum credit hours required for their major program. Nonetheless, faculty are expected to accommodate minors in the degree programs to the fullest extent possible.
- Students who choose to take double majors or two or more minors may need to add credits above the maximum of 128 credits needed for graduation.
- Every undergraduate degree program is required to have a program level student learning outcomes assessment plan.
- All programs must comply with RIT’s Academic Program Profile: Essential Learning Outcomes (2010).
- Undergraduate degree programs are expected to comply with RIT’s writing across the curriculum program requirements. This includes one designated writing intensive course in the student’s program to be completed prior to graduation.
- The non-credit course "Year One", must be part of year one, fall semester for all undergraduate programs.
Parameters for general education curricula:
- General education (GE) must comply with NYSED regulations.
- To accommodate courses with substantial lab components and those math and science year-long sequence courses, only math, science, language and some social science lab-based courses in the general education curriculum can be offered as 4 credit hour courses. All other GE courses must be 3 credit hours.
- The general education program is expected to comply with RIT’s writing across the curriculum program requirements. This includes one designated writing intensive course in the first year and one required writing intensive course in general education to be taken by the end of a student’s third year.
- Students in BS degree programs are required to take four GE courses (for a total credit hours ranging between 12 and 16 credit hours) that collectively map onto the RIT General Education Learning Outcomes in the category of “Scientific, Mathematical, and Technological Literacy."
- The General Education Learning Outcomes and the General Education Assessment plan will be integrated and embedded in the GE curriculum.
- While the General education committee will ultimately decide whether a Freshman Seminar will be a required course in the GE curriculum (and replace the current F.Y.E. ), the faculty should plan that there will be a required 3 credit hour course offered in the fall semester for 1st year students as part of the required 60 credit hours of GE (30 credit hours for BFA programs). In the event that no such course is approved by the General Education Committee, programs will be able to replace this slot later.
Parameters for graduate degree program curricula:
- Masters level programs will normally require a minimum of 30 credit hours and a maximum of 36 credit hours. Other graduate degrees, including Ph.D. programs, may require more credit hours if required or normally expected for external accreditation, professional licensure and/or professional practice.
- RIT's definition of full-time status for graduate students is 9 or more semester credit hours, so include a Table 1 showing 9 credits per semester. NYSED regulations indicate that full-time status is 12 credit hours per semester, for both undergraduate and graduate programs. When preparing NYSED applications for new or changed graduate programs, be sure to include a second Table 1 that shows how a student could complete the program with 12 credit hours per semester. If a 12 credit hour table is not provided, NYSED will request that the program be registered as part-time.
- Master's and Ph.D. programs are expected to be comprised of 3 semester credit hour courses.
- To accommodate the curricular needs of certain graduate programs, up to 3 credit hours in any combination of 1 and 2 credit hour courses can be part of a new graduate program provided that the program satisfies all graduate program parameters as stated in this framework.
a. New programs that intend to include more than 3 credits in 1 or 2 credit hour
courses must seek Provost approval by submitting an exception request to the
Office of the Provost.
b. In making this exception request, Graduate program directors should submit a
short statement that explains the number and need for 1 and/or 2 credit hour
courses in the curriculum. This statement should first be reviewed and validated
by the program and college curriculum committees.
c. Please note that graduate programs are neither expected nor required to include
1 or 2 credit hour courses; this guideline gives the program designers a degree
of freedom that is not explicitly stated in RIT's Program Framework. Graduate
program directors are encouraged to carefully examine the consequences of
adding 1 and 2 credit hour courses to their curricula as it may impact student
credit loads, faculty teaching loads, scheduling of facilities, etc.
- All master's thesis will be a minimum of 6 semester credit hours.
- No more than 20% of the course credit taken in a master's level degree program can be graduate courses that are cross-listed with undergraduate courses. Cross-listed studio courses do not count towards this limit. In certain cases, the Provost in consultation with Graduate Council may allow exceptions to this rule provided there is sufficient justification.
- If an undergraduate and graduate course is to be cross-listed, the undergraduate course must be at the 500-599 level and the graduate course must be at the 600-699 level. Additional advanced level learning outcomes and educational experience designed expressly for graduate students (content, instruction, and workload) are required in any graduate level course that is dual-listed with an undergraduate course.
- Every graduate degree program is required to have a program level student learning outcomes assessment plan.
- All programs must comply with RIT’s Academic Program Profile: Essential Learning Outcomes (2010), where appropriate.
- Course conversion should be guided, in part, by the principle of cost neutrality with respect to available and anticipated faculty resources. As programs determine which courses to convert, only courses that a program anticipates will be offered at least once every two years should be presented as part of calendar conversion and noted on the RIT Course Outline Form. Courses not expected to be offered at least bi-annually should not be converted. In general, it is expected that the active inventory of program electives and general education course electives will be reduced by approximately 1/3.