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Commencement FAQs

The commencement ceremony symbolizes for many the attainment of a lifetime goal. As students near completion of their individual degree program, questions may arise concerning policies and procedures associated with the graduation process. Some of the most frequently asked questions are listed below:

How do I know when to apply for graduation?

Students should always consult the academic calendar for the “application for degree” deadline.

When do I need to apply for graduation?

Students should complete their application for degree and pay their graduation fees the term before they plan to graduate. 

Application Deadlines

Where can I find the “application for degree?

The application for degree may be downloaded from MyUWA by selecting the “Resources” tab and browsing “Forms” for important documents from the Registrar’s Office. Here, you’ll find applications for applying for degrees. Choose the appropriate form as noted in its title and description.

Application for Degree

Why do I have to apply so early for graduation?

Completing the application for degree and paying the graduation fee alerts a student’s academic dean’s office of pending graduation. The student’s file can then be reviewed to assure that everything is in order to allow that student to graduate as planned. If a student applied within the same term, there would be no time to address a missing class, test score, GPA requirements, etc . . .

What happens if I apply late for graduation?

Students applying late for graduation are assessed an additional fee: $100.00 for Fall 2019 applications and $75.00 for Spring 2020. In addition, these students often miss important correspondence from the commencement committee, and run the risk of not being able to participate in the ceremony because caps and gowns cannot be ordered, changes to the ceremony program cannot be made, and diplomas cannot be printed.

Application Deadlines

How much is the graduation fee?

For Fall 2019, the graduation fee is $75.00 for undergraduate students, $100.00 for graduate students, and $125.00 for doctoral students.

For Spring 2020, the graduation fee is $75 for undergraduate students, graduate students, and doctoral students. There is an additional fee for cap and gown, purchased from Barnes and Noble.

What does the graduation fee cover?

The graduation fee covers the cost of processing student files, diploma print costs, commencement printing and mailing, and/or degree shipping if a student does not attend the ceremony.

What happens if for some reason I am not able to graduate as planned?

If a student does not graduate, he/she must complete a new application for degree and resubmit their graduation fee. The fee does not rollover since the cost of processing the files, printing costs, etc. . . begin again.

Do I have to have all required courses and/or test courses and/or internship hours complete before I can graduate?

Yes. According to UWA policy a student cannot participate in the commencement ceremony or receive a diploma until all degree requirements are met.

How many graduation ceremonies are held each year?

Two. There is a ceremony held in December and May of each year. At the May ceremony, students graduating during online Spring 1, online Spring 2, and campus Spring semester are recognized. At the December ceremony, students graduating during the online Summer 1, online Summer 2, campus Summer semester, online Fall 1, online Fall 2, and campus Fall semester are recognized.

What are the dates for upcoming commencement ceremonies?

Commencement exercises will be held Saturday, December 14, 2019 and Saturday, May 9, 2020. Students should consult the academic calendars for application for degree deadlines for all commencement ceremonies. Applications for degree are due the term before one plans to graduate, so students should check the academic calendars carefully. 

If I have completed my application for degree on time, when should I receive correspondence from the Commencement Committee?

Instructions for Commencement will be mailed in October for the Fall Commencement Ceremony, and March for the Spring Commencement Ceremony. Online students will receive a letter from the Commencement Committee asking if the student wishes to participate in the ceremony. Students should respond to this correspondence, so that a complete follow-up graduation packet can be mailed. The follow-up graduation packet will contain graduation tickets for guests, instructions about the commencement ceremony, and a cap/gown order form. If online students do not respond to the correspondence, it will be assumed that the student does not wish to participate and he/she will be graduated inabsentia.

How does the commencement committee know to mail commencement materials to students?

The Commencement Committee only mails information to students that have completed an application for degree and been approved as a candidate for degree by their respective academic dean’s office.

If I receive correspondence from the commencement committee does that mean I will graduate?

No. For students completing course work or other degree requirements in the term they graduate (campus Spring semester, online Spring 2, online Fall 2, or campus Fall semester), all coursework has to be completed before final approval. This also means that comprehensive exam scores and Praxis test scores must be on file.

If I am unsure if I have completed all my degree requirements, who should I call?

A student with questions about his/her degree requirements should contact the academic dean about his/her degree requirement. The commencement committee chairperson does not have this information and cannot answer a student’s academic questions.

If I have questions about the commencement ceremony, who should I call?

Questions concerning the commencement ceremony should be directed to Dr. Tina Jones, chair of the Commencement Committee and the Executive Director of the Division of Economic Development and Outreach. She can be reached at (205) 652-3833 or

What is the difference between transcripts and a diploma?

A diploma is a symbol of the commencement ceremony itself; therefore, the date on the diploma corresponds with the date of the commencement exercises. A student’s transcripts are the official record of completion of degree requirements. Typically, it is the transcripts that employers ask to see when seeking proof of the degrees held by an employee. Transcripts will also record the term in which a student completed all degree requirements.