Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Compliance for Commencement Ceremonies

RIT ID or government issued ID with:

  • Physical or electronic copy of negative COVID-19 test result
  • Physical or electronic copy of vaccination card
  • Excelsior app
  • Vaccination Card:
    • Full legal name
    • Date of Birth
    • Type of vaccination
    • Date of each vaccination
  • Test Result
    • Full legal name
    • Date of Birth (or other identifying factor such as an address that matches gov. ID address)
    • Date of test
    • Type of test
    • Test result

Students with past positive tests within 90 days of commencement do not need to bring documentation of their positive result. RIT staff will reach out to you prior to commencement and provide instructions on how to check-in.

No. New York State guidelines require students to be tested within 3 days of their participation in commencement.

  • Yes, students can get a COVID-19 PCR test at an off-campus location less than 3 days before their ceremony if they are confident they will receive their results before their ceremony check-in time.
  • Rapid antigen tests administered on the day of and within 6 hours of the start of the ceremony will also be accepted.

Students who cannot attend their assigned testing date need to get a COVID-19 PCR test at an off campus location within 3 days of their ceremony.

Do the best you can! We anticipate lines for the document review, and we do not want students to be late to their ceremonies.

Commencement Ticket Reservations

​​​​​​Make sure you are logging in with your RIT Computer Account. If you did that but still cannot register for your ceremony, please contact arenas@rit.edu for assistance.

Sometimes order confirmations can be filtered into your spam folder. Please check there or search your inbox for an email from arenas@rit.edu. Also, be sure to check the email account associated with your RIT Computer Account (most likely your RIT email).

​​​​​​A physical ticket will be handed out at Frank Ritter Ice Arena after completing the COVID-19 health and safety check. Please have your receipt/electronic confirmation ready to show at the testing site in order to receive the correct ticket to your ceremony.

​​​​​​If you are approved to attend two separate ceremonies, please contact arenas@rit.edu before you begin. They will assist you with the process. 

Graduation Celebrations

The RIT community looks forward to celebrating the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 in May. In accordance with New York State’s COVID-19 guidelines, we plan to host small in-person commencement ceremonies recognizing the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 on May 14 and 15. We have set aside Sunday, May 16, to honor the Class of 2020. 

In light of current New York state regulations, we will not allow guests to our indoor ceremonies. We fully understand how disappointing this news is for family and friends; however, all ceremonies will be live-streamed. Recordings will also be made available afterward for those who are unable to view the event live.

We plan to host small in-person commencement ceremonies for RIT’s graduating students. In light of current New York state regulations, we will not allow guests to our indoor ceremonies. We fully understand how disappointing this news is for family and friends; however, all ceremonies will be live-streamed. Recordings will also be made available afterward for those who are unable to view the event live.

For planning purposes for staff and use of our facilities, this is the best time to hold in-person ceremonies on campus under current NY state guidelines. Many logistics are involved in planning a ceremony in a space that was previously used for testing our students. While more people are getting vaccinated, we can’t anticipate the future of virus transmission.

We do not have the space requirements required by New York State to safely hold the ceremonies if guests are in attendance. We fully understand how disappointing this news is for family and friends, and we are doing our best to give graduates an in-person graduation.

Issuing tickets will allow us to have an accurate record of who attends each ceremony, with the necessary information for contact tracing if it becomes necessary.  Tickets will also help us comply with facility occupancy limits.

All of the ceremonies will be live-streamed.  A free digital download of each ceremony will be available on the Commencement website in June. 

Graduates will receive a program at the in-person ceremony in May. You can also download a PDF version of the 2021 Commencement book when it is available in May.

We have set aside Sunday, May 16, to honor the Class of 2020. They will be able to attend and walk across the stage.

There is no charge for cap and gown. Information regarding distribution for Class of 2021 graduates will be available on this site at a later date. Class of 2020 graduates will need to bring their regalia with them.

Anyone in attendance will be asked to follow COVID-19 safety protocols:

  1. Wear a mask: Any time members of the RIT community and visitors on campus are in the presence of others or moving through space occupied by others, they must wear acceptable face masks that covers your nose and mouth regardless of the distance between themselves and others.
  2. Watch your distance: Physical distancing requires that members of the RIT community and visitors to campus  ensure that they maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves, unless safety or core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance.

 

The health and safety of the RIT community is a priority. Here are the health and safety requirements for Commencement weekend.  

At this time, no commencement receptions are being planned, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

GradImages is the official photographer for Commencement. Graduates can pre-register with GradImages by visiting GradImages.com/Preregistration.  You may register your email and up to 6 emails of loved ones who would like to view and order photos. Your proofs will be ready to view online within 48 hours of the ceremony. In order to notify you when your images are available, GradImages sends emails and paper proofs by mail, along with optional text message notifications. Your information is never shared, and privacy is guaranteed. Preregistering is a way to make sure your contact information is up to date with GradImages and ensures your complimentary proofs are delivered as quickly as possible. Although there's never any obligation to order, you will receive a coupon for $5 off any order of $25 or more for your participation. Photos may be ordered online, by phone, or by mail. If you have any questions, please contact Customer Service at 800-261-2576 or by email at giservice@gradimages.net.

For Commencement weekend, visitors on campus will be asked to follow the RIT Health and Safety protocols. (1) Wear a Mask: Any time members of the RIT community are in the presence of others or moving through space occupied by others, they must wear acceptable face masks that covers your nose and mouth regardless of the distance between themselves and others. (2) Watch your Distance: Physical distancing requires that members of the RIT community ensure that they maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves, unless safety or core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance. Any time members of the RIT community are indoors in the presence of others or moving through space occupied by others, they must wear acceptable face masks regardless of the distance between themselves and others. 

Eligibility and Application for Graduation

Students who will complete their degree requirements within the academic year of 2020-2021 (fall 2020, spring 2021, summer 2021) are eligible to participate in the May 2021 ceremonies. Please see your advisor to confirm your eligibility.

The academic year begins with fall and ends with the summer term. If you complete your coursework in fall, spring or summer you will be included in the spring commencement of that academic year. Students completing in the following fall may be included in the spring commencement by permission of the dean of their home college or academic unit.

Fill out the Change to Expected Grad Term form on the Office of the Registrar website. If you are not graduating, but are receiving Commencement mailings, completing this form will remove you from mailing lists until your next expected Grad Term.

Once a student is eligible to apply for graduation, the Office of the Registrar will send an email each month to complete the application for graduation in SIS, and a notification will pop up on the student’s SIS account indicating they are eligible to apply for graduation.  To access SIS, visit http://sis.rit.edu. In SIS, you can change your permanent address or setup a special one for diploma delivery, as well as edit how your name will appear on the diploma. Helpful SIS screen shots available here.

Undergraduate* students/candidates graduating with honors are indicated with an * in the Commencement Book.  The designations that appear in the Commencement Book are based on a student’s GPA at the end of the preceding fall semester.  Final honors designations will be posted to the undergraduate’s academic record and reflected on his/her transcript based upon the cumulative GPA upon certification of the completion of degree requirements.  Because the final honors designations include all degree requirements, they may be different from those indicated in the Commencement Book.

The numerical criteria for graduation with honors are as follows:

  • Cum Laude is equal to a cumulative GPA of 3.40 or greater (*)
  • Magna Cum Laude is equal to a cumulative GPA of 3.60 - 3.79 or greater (**)
  • Summa Cum Laude is equal to a cumulative GPA of 3.80 - 4.00 or greater (***)

Regardless of the level of honors earned, all graduate wear two cords knotted together.
*Per policy D05.1 Academic Actions and Recognitions, degree honors are applicable to undergraduate students only.
 
To graduate from the RIT Honors Program, the undergraduate student must fulfill all degree program requirements and Honors Program requirements as outlined below:

  • 3.6 or higher GPA
  • Successful completion of 12 honors points, either Honors Courses or other activities
  • Successful participation in 20 hours of Complementary Learning activities annually

Undergraduate students/candidates graduating from the RIT Honors Program are designated in the Commencement Book with the § symbol. The designations that appear in the Commencement Book are based on the undergraduate student’s progress in the RIT Honors Program as of the end of the preceding fall semester. Final RIT Honors Program designations will be noted on the student’s transcript and may be different than the designations in the Commencement Book. 

Approximately 10 weeks after graduation, you will receive your diploma in the mail from the Registrar's Office. Please be sure your mailing information is correct on SIS. If desired, you can set up a special diploma mailing address. Contact the Registrar here.

Caps & Gowns (Regalia) Information for Graduates EXCEPT Ph.D. Candidates

The Class of 2020 had the opportunity to order cap and gown last year. Please plan to bring your cap and gown, as well as diploma cover with you if you are planning to attend your Class of 2020 ceremony on Sunday, May 16, 2021. If you did not order cap and gown last year, you can place an order online with Oak Hall for shipment to your home. Send an email to Graduation@rit.edu to be added to the Oak Hall online store and include your RIT email address. If your account is inactive, please call the RIT Service Center at 585-475-5000 (option 2) and ask them to create an Alumni account for you.

There is NO CHARGE for your regalia.

Undergraduate and master’s level regalia is yours to keep.

All of the shipments are being packed and will be sent out by Monday, May 10. Each individual will get a tracking email when their items have shipped. Delivery should take 2-3 days.   

Please check your front door to ensure UPS did not leave a note regarding an attempted delivery. Also, if a delivery is being made to an apartment complex, packages may have been dropped off at the complex office.

If you do not receive your regalia in time, extra will be available at line-up locations during each commencement ceremony. When you arrive in the line-up area for your ceremony, go to your college’s check-in area first to receive your card. You will be directed where to go for regalia once you have finished the check-in process.

Please arrive no later than 30 minutes before the start of your ceremony to allow you enough time to check-in & make your way through the regalia line.

Candidates walking for multiple level degrees do not (typically) wear multiple gowns. Instead, they wear the regalia that corresponds to their highest degree. For example, someone walking for an MBA from Saunders College of Business and an AAS (Associate in Applied Arts & Sciences) from the School of Individualized Study would wear their graduate (master’s) regalia to both ceremonies. 

On the Oak Hall website,choose one of the Dual Degree packages. If you have earned Academic Honors in your bachelor’s program, be sure to pick one of the packages with the words “Honors” and “3.4 cum GPA or higher” as only these packages include the Academic Honors cords.

On the Oak Hall website, there are separate “packages” for graduates receiving Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Dual Degrees (BS/MS, BS/ME).  Within these groups, you should choose a package that includes the words “Honors” and “3.4 cum GPA or higher” as only these packages include the Academic Honors cords.

At RIT, only the Academic Honor Cords are managed centrally. They are part of the cap and gown package.  All of the many other cords, stoles, pins, etc. that grads receive come from the organizations they have been a part of during their time at RIT. You should contact the organizations directly for more information.

What if I have a question or need information?

Before Commencement

Academic questions should be directed to your academic department or your college’s Commencement Liaison. For commencement questions, email graduation@rit.edu.

During Commencement Weekend

Information booths will be located outside the Gordon Field House and Gene Polisseni Center. In addition, volunteers wearing yellow ribbons will be happy to assist you.