Academic Calendar 2020–21

The Academic Calendar for AY 2020–21 has been adjusted to bolster RISD’s prioritization of public health.

Quarantine Periods

  • For both Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, a required 14-day quarantine period is split into two consecutive parts: one week prior to the formal start of coursework, and one week during formal coursework. Formal coursework during the second quarantine week will be offered online.

Delayed Arrivals

  • Students who are significantly delayed from arriving on campus for fall coursework due to circumstances beyond their control may have an opportunity to continue their program of study with online coursework. This opportunity applies to EFS and other select programs of study. Students anticipating such a delay should contact their department/program to determine what online options exist for fall semester.


  • Thanksgiving break will comprise Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27. All travel during Thanksgiving break is strongly discouraged. Alternative academic and co-curricular programming, including a Thanksgiving meal, will be offered on campus during the holiday.
  • Spring break will comprise Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30. All travel during spring break is strongly discouraged. Alternative academic and co-curricular programming will be offered on campus during spring break.


  • Wintersession 2021 will be offered online only. Students unable to leave campus will be permitted to remain in the RISD dormitories, but classes will be taught online
  • The only exception to online Wintersession courses are special make-up courses offered in-person to those students who were delayed from arriving on campus for fall coursework due to circumstances beyond their control. These students will be subject to the required 14-day quarantine when they arrive on campus.
  • Access to academic buildings for non-credit bearing activity during Wintersession will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The exact parameters for building access during Wintersession are currently being developed.

Brown Cross-Registration

  • The opportunity to cross-register with Brown University is available in the fall semester and will not be available in Wintersession or spring (due to anticipated deviation in the Brown/RISD academic calendars). An exception will be made only for Brown University/RISD Dual Degree students in order to maintain progress in the program.

Academic Calendar 2020–21

Fall 2020

  • Aug 30–Sept 2: Move-in

  • Sept 3: Quarantine Week I

  • Sept 10: Classes start online only

  • Sept 10–16: Quarantine Week II

  • Sept 17: Classes continue de-densified campus

  • Nov 26/27: Thanksgiving Break on campus

  • Dec 15: Semester ends

Wintersession 2021

  • Jan 11: WS starts, online only

  • Jan 11: WS starts, on campus and in-person for make-up coursework only

  • Feb 12: WS ends

Spring 2021

  • Feb 15: Quarantine Week I

  • Feb 22: Classes start online only

  • Feb 22–28: Quarantine Week II

  • Mar 1: Classes continue de-densified campus

  • Mar 29/30: Spring Break on campus

  • May 27: Semester ends

  • June 5: Commencement

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