Progress in a Pandemic

2020 threw the book at us—a global pandemic, racial unrest, economic uncertainty, a fierce political battle for leadership of our nation. But a new Global Cybersecurity Institute, more performing arts, and a record in research funding are among the highlights of this unconventional year.

Message from the President

Portrait of Dr. David C Muson

David C. Munson Jr.

Always moving forward–even during a pandemic

RIT faced 2020 head on, pulling together our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees who guided us through—and eventually will guide us out of—these turbulent times. What kept us going was a committed community and a sharp focus on two major goals: protecting the health and safety of our community and keeping RIT on track with its 2025 strategic plan and build on our hard-earned reputation as one of the nation’s top universities.

Moving into 2021, RIT is forging ahead as a beacon of hope in higher education, a place where innovation and ingenuity come together to give our students a unique experience that prepares them for success in their chosen careers and as citizens of the world.

Read more

A group of students wearing masks using a cordless drill.



The pandemic may have changed academics at RIT, but our high standards remain the same.

A group of students wearing masks using a cordless drill.

Students in The Construct reinforce the structure of a prototype of a sustainable and removable latrine.

Read more about pandemic changes and academic standards

Enhancing Academic Experience

  • Conecpt rendering of the new Cyber security building

    New institute helps RIT attack cyber threats

    In a preemptive strike on cyber­security threats across the world, RIT has created the Global Cybersecurity Institute. RIT is on its way to becoming one of the best places in the world for cybersecurity education, training, and research.

  • Three people in clean suits working in a lab

    New economy majors connect with emerging careers

    Analytical thinking, complex problem solving, creativity, resiliency, and flexibility are among the top skills needed for emerging careers by 2025. RIT is seizing on the opportunity to guide students to “new economy majors” that are multi­disciplinary, transformative, and future-focused.

  • Students walking down a sidwalk on campus surrounded by trees.

    First-year students have high academic qualifications

    RIT welcomed 3,129 first-year students last fall. For students seeking a bachelor’s degree, their average SAT score was just under 1300, and the average ACT score was 30. Sixty-three were at the top of their high school graduating class.

Areas of Study

RIT students are enrolled in more than 200 programs of study across nine colleges and two degree-granting units.

Fall 2020 degree programs with highest enrollment


Computer Science (BS)


Mechanical Engineering (BS)


Game Design & Development (BS)


Software Engineering (BS)

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RIT has more than 1.5 million total enrollments and growing in RITx offerings on edX. (RITx offerings launched in 2016.)


RITx has 7 program offerings on edX, including two brand new Professional Certificate programs in Unreal Engine Foundations and Data Analysis for Decision-Making.


Total RITx MicroMasters certificates awarded to date, in the areas of project management, design thinking, and cybersecurity.


RIT has enrolled learners from more than 196 countries and regions in multiple runs of 38 RITx offerings.

Two students working in a lab, one polishing copper pipes and the other has their hands in a hood.


Innovative Upgrades

More than $8.2 million in strategic updates to campus will last beyond the pandemic.

Two students working in a lab, one polishing copper pipes and the other has their hands in a hood.

A team of researchers conducted testing on copper’s germ-fighting properties for door handles.

Read more about strategic upgrates that will last beyond the pandemic

Launch Pad for Innovation

  • Research takes flight at Tait Preserve

    Scientists began conducting research at the Tait Preserve of RIT for the first time this summer. Researchers from the Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory were the first to use the site, collecting data using imaging technology flown on unmanned aerial systems, or drones.

Who’s Learning

While RIT’s overall enrollment has remained steady over the past five years, the university is growing its Ph.D. programs at a rapid pace.

Fall 2020 enrollment from all RIT campuses
bar chart showing enrollement for fall 2020 across all campuses fall 2016(18,632), fall 2017(18,963), fall 2018(19,047), fall 2019(18,897), fall 2020(18,668).
bar chart showing enrollement for fall 2020 across all campuses fall 2016(18,632), fall 2017(18,963), fall 2018(19,047), fall 2019(18,897), fall 2020(18,668).
Ph.D. degrees awarded 2019-2020


Imaging Science


Microsystems Engineering




Computing and Information Sciences




Astrophysicial Sciences and Technology


Color Science

Gloved hands working in a hydroponic farm

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning

RIT’s cooperative education program continues to benefit students. Plus, students are staying active in clubs and performing arts.

Gloved hands working in a hydroponic farm

Student Emma Junga worked at the campus hydroponic farm.

Learning Outside the Classroom

  • Students working in a workshop with a remote control car on the floor.

    Students find ways to stay active in clubs

    Despite restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RIT students still found ways to participate in hundreds of clubs and organizations last fall, like dancing, designing games, and even skydiving.

  • Masked musicians playing instraments.

    Performing Arts Scholars Program flourishes

    Now in its second year, the Performing Arts Scholars Program at RIT has more than doubled in participants, with 368 first-year students involved in classical or jazz instrumental music, voice, musical theater, acting, technical theater, dance, or video game composition.

A group of people outside on a sidewalk bending and kneeling down using chalk on the ground



RIT has created an action plan to grow diversity and create social equity for all. Plus, RIT’s global campuses continue to grow.

A group of people outside on a sidewalk bending and kneeling down using chalk on the ground

Black Lives Matter rallies on campus have featured speakers, music, poetry, and dancing.

Read more about how RIT creates an action plan for race and ethnicity

Difference-makers Near and Far

  • Two people in lab coats working in a hood.

    Programs provide important research opportunities

    A record 15 students participated in fall research projects thanks to support from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement programs.

  • Shot of a building fascade from the road.

    RIT around the world

    A look at what’s going on at RIT’s global campuses in Dubai, China, Croatia, and Kosovo. Enrollment at these campuses continues to grow.

Growing Diversity

Last fall, enrollment of underrepresented students of color hit an all-time high. And the National Technical Institute for the Deaf is the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Fall 2020 enrollment of underrepresented students of color
bar chart showing enrollment of underrepresented students of color fall 2016(15.1%), fall 2017(15.2%), fall 2018(15.3%), fall 2019(15.4%), fall 2020(16.8%).
Destler/Johnson Rochester City Scholars


Rochester City Scholars have enrolled at RIT since the program began in 2010.


Rochester City Scholars participated in the Summer Bridge/DDI Summer Experience Pre-College Immersion Program.


Rochester City Scholars were enrolled in the fall of 2020.


Rochester City Scholars have graduated.

Going Global

Study abroad experiences were suspended in March due to COVID-19, but the university adjusted by introducing virtual intercultural experiences.

Enrollment at RIT’s global campuses
Includes campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo
bar chart showing enrollment at global campuses fall 2016(2,054), fall 2017(2,237), fall 2018(2,419), fall 2019(2,563), fall 2020(2,740)
Andre Hudson examining a petree dish above his head while wearing latex gloves and a mask.



The university had its best year ever for sponsored research funding.

Andre Hudson examining a petree dish above his head while wearing latex gloves and a mask.

Professor Andre Hudson conducts experiments to see if the air ionization systems RIT purchased would be effective at killing microorganisms.

Read more about RIT sponsored research

Forward Thinking

Research Portfolio

RIT is listed as a “high research activity institution” or R2 under the updated Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

Sponsored research awards
bar chart showing sponsored research awards FY16($73), FY17($61), FY18($78), FY19($74), FY20($82)
Research proposals
bar chart showing research proposals FY16(702), FY17(722), FY18(740), FY19(731), FY20(723)
Research expenditures
bar chart showing research expenditures FY16($46), FY17($51), FY18($49), FY19($58), FY20($58)
Artists rendering of the new Innovative Maker and Learning Complex.

What’s Next

What’s Next

A new Innovative Maker and Learning Complex and a performing arts theater are coming to campus in 2023.

Artists rendering of the new Innovative Maker and Learning Complex.

Plans for the Innovative Maker and Learning Complex remain on schedule, with a design that will centralize RIT’s makerspace and performing arts.

Forging Ahead

  • Outdoor rendering of a glass building with people and a tree outside.

    Creative complex coming to campus in 2023

    Design work on the multipurpose Innovative Maker and Learning Complex continued after the COVID-19 pandemic closed the campus in March. The current plan is for work on the foundation to start in spring 2021, and the building to open in fall 2023.

Financially Sound and Growing

RIT’s future success depends upon strong financial results and a growing endowment.

Operating revenues
Fiscal Year 2020: Total operating revenues: $609,363,000
bar chart showing fiscal year 2020 operating revenues private contributions($3,600,000), other sources ($20,365,000), net assets released from restrictions ($25,973,000), investment return ($27,672,000), sales and services of auxiliaries ($66,541,000), grants and contracts ($66,541,000), national technical institute for the deaf ($73,037,000), tuition and fees ($325,319,000) totalling $609,363,000.
Operating expenses
Fiscal Year 2020: Total operating expenses: $588,597,000
bar chart showing fiscal year 2020 operating expenses public service($20,033,000), instituional support ($42,745,000), research ($54,286,000), student services ($56,694,000), academic support ($62,648,000), auxiliary enterprises ($81,523,000), instruction ($270,668,000), tuition and fees ($325,319,000) totalling $588,597,000.
Total endowment by fiscal year
(as of June 30 each year)
bar chart showing total endowment by fiscal year FY14($753,950,862), FY15($761,936,337), FY16($750,894,725),FY17($847,211,461),FY18($938,162,179),FY19($957,232,491),FY20($954,031,657)
Dr. Christopher Tanski in purple scrubs and a medical mask



Alumni captured compelling moments in 2020. They also continue to give back during the pandemic.

Dr. Christopher Tanski in purple scrubs and a medical mask

Dr. Christopher Tanski ’00 oversaw the coronavirus field hospital set up in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City in April.

On the Front Lines

  • A police officer standing in front of a crowd holding a sign that says No Justice No Peace

    Tigers capture historic moments across the country

    When demonstrations calling for police reform and racial equality occurred in cities across the country in 2020, alumni and faculty of RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences were there to capture the gripping moments through their camera lenses.

  • RIT lockup of University Advancement

    University Advancement focuses on future

    Phil Castleberry, a 20-year veteran of higher education advancement, began at RIT last February as the vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, now called the Division of University Advancement. Here are his thoughts on philanthropy and engagement at RIT.

Tiger Alumni

RIT has more than 136,000 living alumni, and they are active in chapters across the U.S. and around the globe.

Alumni by decade
Degree years
bar chart showing alumni by decade 1926-1930(443), 1931-1940(1,897), 1941-1950(3,389), 1951-1960(4,968), 1961-1970(8,367), 1971-1980(18,834), 1981-1990(25,852), 1991-2000(24,506), 2001-2010(30,187), 2011-2020(32,978)
Giving by source
Total philanthropic giving in fiscal year 2020: $34,622,206
bar chart showing philanthropic giving in fiscal year 2020 faculty/staff (1.4%), trustees(1.6%), private foundations (7.8%), alumni (20.6%), corporate (21.0%), other (47.6%) totalling $34,622,206