Skip to main content
Explore UWA Request Info Schedule a Visit Apply Now

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. Deadlines are also located here.

When do I need to apply for graduation?

Students should complete their application for degree and pay their degree fees one to two terms before they plan to graduate.

Application Deadlines

How do I know when to apply for degree?

The application for degree should be submitted one to two terms prior to degree completion. See UWA’s academic calendar for online programs for specific deadlines. Deadlines are also located here.

Where can I find the “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: $75.00. 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.

How much is the application for degree fee?

The fee for the application for degree 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 application for degree fee cover?

The fee covers the cost of processing student files, diploma print costs, commencement printing and mailing, and/or degree shipping.

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

If a student does not graduate, they must complete a new application for degree and resubmit the fee. The fee does not rollover since the cost of processing the files, printing costs, etc. . .

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

Questions concerning the commencement ceremony should be directed to or you can call 205-652-3828.

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

Commencement is a ceremony held twice a year that honors students who will soon graduate, which means the students have or will soon complete all requirements of their degree program. Participating in Commencement does not mean that a student has graduated. In order to graduate, a student must complete all requirements of his or her degree program and fill out an official graduation application online.

When students apply to graduate, Deans and the Registrar will check to certify that all program requirements have been satisfied. Once approved, the degree will display on the student transcript. Degrees are conferred 4-6 weeks after final grades are posted; at that point, diplomas are printed and mailed.

Participating in Commencement is a separate process from graduating. When a student confirms participation in Commencement, UWA will reserve a seat at the ceremony and provide tickets for guests. Participation in commencement does not guarantee that the diploma and a final official transcript will be issued.

Students may be allowed to participate in Commencement if they meet the following requirements:

  • they have completed and submitted the application for degree prior to the deadline;
  • they are enrolled in the final course(s) for completing degree requirements and have attempted any applicable completion exams, internships, defenses, etc.
  • they have written approval from their College Dean;
  • they have a plan on file in their dean’s office to complete degree requirements the following term/session; and they have no outstanding financial obligations to the university (e.g., unpaid bills).

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 Thursday, May 4, 2023 and Friday, May 5, 2023.  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 sent to your UWA email in October for the Fall Commencement Ceremony, and March for the Spring Commencement Ceremony. 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.

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

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.

Note: Certificate candidates are completing a certificate and therefore do not receive a diploma upon program completion.