Information for Graduating Students

Commencement Weekend is an exciting time for everyone to celebrate YOUR achievements. We encourage you to attend and participate in weekend traditions. We look forward to celebrating with you!

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Main Ceremony Instructions 
Undergraduates 

All undergraduate degree candidates participating in the main ceremony must wear the designated regalia, including cap, gown, hood, and tassel (positioned on right side of cap). The W&M Bookstore will have regalia available for purchase beginning in mid-March.

  • Walk Across Campus - Degree candidates gather on Saturday in the Wren Courtyard at 8:45 a.m. in full regalia for a final walk across campus together to the Commencement Ceremony site. The walk concludes at the Student Rec Center (undergraduates) and Kaplan Arena (graduate students). All guests attending the main ceremony in Kaplan Arena should  be seated by 9:45 a.m. Spectators should plan accordingly if you plan to watch any of the walk along the route. Walk Across Campus (pdf). Undergraduates who do not wish to participate in the walk, should plan to be at the Student Rec Center by 9:15 a.m. to prepare for the line-up.
  • Upon Completion of the Walk - As you approach Kaplan Arena (from the Walk Across Campus) you will be guided to the Student Recreation Center where you will wait approximately 45 minutes before heading to Kaplan Arena.
  • Kaplan Arena - Graduates will pass through a security checkpoint before entering Kaplan Arena. Review the list of items that are prohibited in Kaplan Arena.    
  • Line-up - Staff will guide undergraduates to the Student Rec Center to begin forming the Academic Procession.
  • Seating - Keep in mind that will be seated next to the individuals on either side of you in line. In other words, line up with the people with whom you wish to sit once in the Arena. It’s possible you may not be able to sit next to your best friend IF the row fills and you are required to start a new row.
  • Guest Admittance - Your family/guests must use the entrances designated for guests.
  • Conferral of Degrees - Your name is not called at this ceremony nor do you receive a diploma at the main ceremony. You will be asked to stand in groups according to your degree and the College President will confer the degree. 
Masters and Law Candidates

All Masters and Law degree candidates participating in the main ceremony must wear the designated regalia. The W&M Bookstore will have regalia available for purchase beginning in mid-March.

  • Walk Across Campus - If you wish to participate in the Walk Across Campus meet at the Wren Courtyard no later than 8:45 a.m.
  • Security - Graduates will pass through a security checkpoint before entering Kaplan Arena. Review the list of items that are prohibited in Kaplan Arena.        
  • Where you should be - Arrive at Kaplan Arena no later than 9:15 a.m. and go directly to the Wightman Cup Room.  The Wightman Cup Room is located on the corner of the building that faces the Commons Dining Hall and Busch Field. 
  • Line-up - Staff members will help to organize candidates into the proper order for the academic procession.
  • Conferral of Degrees - Your name is not called at this ceremony nor do you receive a diploma at this ceremony. You will be asked to stand in groups according to your degree and the university's President will confer the degree. 
Doctoral (PHD, EDD) Candidates

Doctoral candidates must wear the appropriate regalia to participate in the main ceremony. Wear a white shirt/blouse with black slacks/skirt under the robe. The W&M Bookstore will have regalia available for purchase/rent beginning in mid-March.

  • Arrival time - Arrive at Kaplan Arena no later than 9:15 a.m. It is crucial that you are not late so we can line you up in alphabetical order according to degree.
  • Where to enter Kaplan Arena -  Use the entrance on the side of building facing Commons Dining Hall and Busch Field. 
  • Where you need to be - Go directly into the Wightman Cup Room.  Watch for signs directing you to the appropriate staging area.
  • Check-in - It is imperative that you check-in with the staff overseeing doctoral candidate line-up. Since your name is part of the script and will be read by the Dean of your school we must confirm that you have arrived well in advance of the start of the Academic Procession.
  • Academic Procession- Faculty Marshals will form the academic procession with the doctoral candidates and will lead the procession at the appointed time. 
  • Walking across the stage - After the student speaker has completed his/her remarks (approximately 1 hour into the ceremony), it will be time for the doctoral candidates to be recognized by name and walk across the stage in the following order: (PhD - Arts & Sciences), (PhD - Marine Science), (PhD or EdD- Education).
  • Getting ready to walk on stage - Remain in alphabetical order at the foot of the stairs on the (audience's) right side of the stage - the first candidate will proceed to the top of the stairs.
  • As your Dean calls the first candidate's name, proceed to the center of the stage to receive a substitute diploma from the President. The next candidate moves to the top of the stairs while the previous candidate is walking center stage and then should begin walking toward the center immediately after the previous candidate has received the substitute diploma.
  • After receiving the substitute diploma, each candidate should continue across the stage, exit by the stairs on the (audience's) left side, and return to his/her seat. 
  • This process will be repeated for each group of doctoral recipients.
Eligibility

The following degree candidates are eligible to participate in the May 2017 Commencement ceremony:

Undergraduate Degrees

January 2018*, May 2018, August 2018

Graduate Degrees

Arts & Sciences: August 2017, January 2018*, May 2018

Business: January 2018*, May 2018, August 2018 (MBA-MACC)

Education: August 2017, January 2018*, May 2018, August 2018 (MAED in Curriculum Instruction only)

Law: January 2018*, May 2018, August 2018

Marine Science:  Please check with the VIMS graduate registrar.

*January 2018 Graduates

We will send communication via your W&M email account only. If you use another email address, be sure to forward your W&M email to your new address. If you are returning for the May ceremony, notify your department in advance so they can include you in their ceremony. If you request guest tickets to the main ceremony, you can arrange to either have them mailed to you or pick them up on-campus the week before Commencement.

RSVP and Tickets for the Main Ceremony 
RSVP

Graduating students who plan to dress in regalia and participate in the main ceremony are required to RSVP. This process will begin on February 1st and run through March lst.

Tickets

Only graduating students who RSVP they will attend the ceremony may request guest tickets.  How many tickets do we receive? Ticket allotments will be determined by the number of those attending and the size of our venue. Graduating students participating in the ceremony and do not need a ticket for themselves.

Additional important info:

  • Registrar's Office: you must file a Notice of Candidacy with the University Registrar in order to graduate.  Only those who have completed this form will receive information about the Commencement Ceremony.  
  • Commencement Office: you must also complete the Commencement Ceremony RSVP in order to attend the main ceremony. Filing your Notice of Candidacy with the Registrar does not register you for the ceremony. 
  • During the RSVP process undergraduate students will be asked to designate the department where you will receive your diploma. 
  • Due to the size of our classes, we do not provide tickets to graduating students who do not participate in the main ceremony.
  • We cannot guarantee that students who do not follow the RSVP procedure and/or meet the appropriate deadlines will be eligible to receive guest tickets.
  • Tickets are free and may not be purchased or sold. Selling tickets is considered a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and may result in conduct charges leading to the inability to participate in Commencement and/or receive a diploma.
  • Live streaming of the ceremony is available for those who are unable to obtain tickets.
How do I get my tickets?

Tickets are distributed on campus and we will post dates/times in the spring;
We do not automatically mail tickets to families the student must request tickets via the RSVP form;  
We will mail tickets to those who have already graduated and left campus. The form will be available in November 2017 for those who are graduating mid-year: and 
We do not mail tickets to addresses within Williamsburg. 

Double & Interdisciplinary Majors
Undergraduate degree candidates in Interdisciplinary Programs

Students majoring in an interdisciplinary program may choose any department’s ceremony to attend on Sunday to receive their diploma. Typically, it will be the program in which you have taken the most classes or have connected with the most. Students must indicate their departmental ceremony preference when they RSVP for the main ceremony. This information will be passed on to the Registrar's Office for diploma distribution and they will ensure your diploma is delivered to the appropriate department for you to receive it. You should also notify the department of your intention to attend so they can include you in the program.

Undergraduate degree candidates with Double Majors

Undergraduates who have two majors may choose only one departmental ceremony to attend on Sunday. Double-majors must indicate their ceremony preference when they RSVP for the Commencement ceremony.  This information will be passed on to the Registrar's Office for diploma distribution - they will ensure your diploma is delivered to the appropriate ceremony for you to receive it. 

Global Studies and International Relations

Graduating students in GS/IR are recognized by name at a ceremony scheduled on Saturday after the main ceremony. However, no diplomas are presented. Instead, GS/IR majors will pick up their diplomas at Tyler Hall on Sunday morning.

Regalia
Full Regalia (caps, gowns, hoods)

Walk Across Campus, Main Commencement Ceremony, Departmental Diploma Ceremony

Wear Caps/Gowns (no hoods)

Candlelight Ceremony (tassel on the right side of the mortar board)

Do not wear regalia

Baccalaureate Service, Saturday Departmental Receptions (unless otherwise noted by your department), Alumni Induction Ceremony

  • Graduates participating in the main ceremony and departmental ceremonies must wear the College-approved regalia. Regalia consist of a robe, a cap, a tassel, and a hood with colors indicating the graduate's degree. 
  • Hood Colors: Arts (White), Business (Drab-Tan), Science (Gold), Education Masters (Light Blue), Public Policy (Peacock Blue) (color is different than Education hood)
  • The tassel is worn on the right side of the mortar board until the degree is awarded, at which time it is moved to the left. Mortar boards may not have inappropriate messages attached.
  • Type of dress for underneath the robe is up to the graduating student and should be tasteful and appropriate.  We suggest business or business-casual attire.
  • In mid-March, the bookstore designates specific days when students may buy regalia and other graduation merchandise all at one time. The schedule and pricing will be announced in the spring. 
  • Undergraduate Regalia will be available for purchase only; there is no rental option. 
    Masters Regalia will be available for purchase only; there is no rental option.
  • Doctoral Regalia: William & Mary doctoral regalia consist of a green open-front robe, patterned after those used at Oxford University, and a black velvet tam. Hoods are not worn with Oxford-style robes. A white shirt/blouse with black slacks/skirt should be worn under the robe. The doctoral gown and tam are available for either rent or purchase. 
Diplomas

The University Registrar’s Office is responsible for preparing diplomas and ensuring they are delivered to the correct department to be distributed to graduates. Diplomas indicate the degree a student is receiving (e.g. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science), but not specific majors and minors. Students must inform the Registrar’s Office by the last day of classes if they plan to receive their diploma from a department that is not their primary major. The University Registrar’s Office will contact students who do not attend their departmental ceremony to arrange for delivery of their diploma. 

Helpful things to know about diplomas
  • Graduating students must fulfill all degree requirements in order to receive a diploma.
  • Diplomas are issued at departmental ceremonies, not at the main college ceremony.
  • Graduate A&S diplomas are mailed separately later in the summer.
  • Diplomas are written in Latin.
Honors
Honor Cords

William & Mary does not issue honor cords. Honors are determined by a graduating student’s final GPA. Due to the timing of final grades in May, grades cannot be certified until just before Commencement. As a result, it is not possible to ensure the distribution of cords to all eligible students in time for the main ceremony.

Departmental Honors

Departmental Honors are granted by individual departments and programs to recognize achievement in independent study and research projects. These student projects may receive their degree with "Honors," "High Honors," "Highest Honors," or "Honor in Research," depending on the department and the quality of the work.

Latin Honors

Latin Honors are awarded to undergraduates on their overall grade point average as follows:

3.50 - 3.64 cum laude
3.65 - 3.79 magna cum laude
3.80 or higher summa cum laude

Latin Honors are indicated on the diploma but not in the Commencement program because grades are not certified until after the program has gone to print.

Class Rings

Class rings may be purchased online at the Jostens website. If you have any questions about class rings, please contact the Bookstore at 757-221-1669 or Jostens at 800-854-7464. The Alumni Association also sells William & Mary rings.

Graduation Announcements
  • Generic William & Mary graduation announcements may be purchased at the Bookstore, usually beginning in mid-March.
  • Personalized William & Mary graduation announcements imprinted with an individual's name and degree may be purchased online at the Jostens website.

If you have any questions about announcements, please contact the Bookstore at 757-221-1669 or Jostens at 800-854-7464.

Student Speaker Competition

Do you have something to say? Each year a graduating student is selected to deliver an address at the college-wide Commencement ceremony. Anyone undergraduate and graduate student participating in the May ceremony is eligible to apply for this honor. The only stipulation is that the topic must be a theme to which any graduate could relate. The competition is generally announced in December, with application materials due in January.

 How to Apply
  • Complete the online application. Deadlines for submission will be posted in the fall.
  • Late applications will not be accepted.
  • Please email studentaffairs@wm.edu or call 757-221-1236 if you have any questions.

The online application utilizes "ReCaptcha" as a security measure. We STRONGLY recommend you save your work before submitting the application through ReCaptcha. If you incorrectly type your ReCaptcha phrase, you might lose the contents of your application and will need to start your application over.

Moving out 

Graduating seniors who live in on-campus housing must turn in their residence hall keys by 10:00 a.m. on the Monday after Commencement. If you have additional questions about move-out, speak to your RA or contact the Office of Residence Life at 757-221-4314.

Questions

Graduating students will automatically receive email announcements/instructions beginning in the fall and continuing to the days before Commencement. All emails are sent to the student's W&M account.

Graduation/Academic Requirements/Diplomas
Office of the University Registrar

757-221-2800
[[wendy.urbano, Wendy Urbano]]

Commencement Schedule and General Information
Office of Student Affairs

757-221-1236
[[commencement, Commencement Planning Team]]

Regalia and General Graduation Merchandise

W&M Bookstore
 757-221-1669

Main Ceremony Instructions
Undergraduates

All undergraduate degree candidates participating in the main ceremony must wear the designated regalia, including cap, gown, hood, and tassel (positioned on right side of cap). The W&M Bookstore will have regalia available for purchase beginning in mid-March.

  • Walk Across Campus - Meet at the Wren Courtyard no later than 8:45 a.m. if you wish to participate in the Walk Across Campus.
  • Upon Completion of the Walk - As you approach Kaplan Arena (from the Walk Across Campus) you will be guided to the Student Recreation Center where you will wait approximately 45 minutes before heading to Kaplan Arena.
  • Kaplan Arena - Graduates will pass through a security checkpoint before entering Kaplan Arena. Review the list of items that are prohibited in Kaplan Arena.    
  • Line-up - Staff will guide you to the proper location to begin forming the Academic Procession.
  • Seating - Keep in mind that will be seated next to the individuals on either side of you in line. In other words, line up with the people with whom you wish to sit once in the Arena. It’s possible you may not be able to sit next to your best friend IF the row fills and you are required to start a new row.
  • Guest Admittance - Your family/guests must use the entrances designated for guests.
  • Conferral of Degrees - Your name is not called at this ceremony nor do you receive a diploma at the main ceremony. You will be asked to stand in groups according to your degree and the College President will confer the degree. 
Masters and Law Degree Candidates

All undergraduate degree candidates participating in the main ceremony must wear the designated regalia, including cap, gown, hood, and tassel (positioned on right side of cap). The W&M Bookstore will have regalia available for purchase beginning in mid-March.

  • Walk Across Campus - If you wish to participate in the Walk Across Campus meet at the Wren Courtyard no later than 8:45 a.m.
  • Security - Graduates will pass through a security checkpoint before entering Kaplan Arena. Review the list of items that are prohibited in Kaplan Arena.        
  • Where you should be - Arrive at Kaplan Arena no later than 9:20 a.m. and go directly to the Wightman Cup Room.  The Wightman Cup Room is located on the corner of the building that faces the Commons Dining Hall and Busch Field. 
  • Line-up - Staff members will help to organize candidates into the proper order for the academic procession.
  • Conferral of Degrees - Your name is not called at this ceremony nor do you receive a diploma at this ceremony. You will be asked to stand in groups according to your degree and the university's President will confer the degree. 
Doctoral Degree Candidates (PHD, EDD)

Doctoral candidates must wear the appropriate regalia to participate in the main ceremony. Wear a white shirt/blouse with black slacks/skirt under the robe. The W&M Bookstore will have regalia available for purchase/rent beginning in mid-March.

  • Arrival time - Arrive at Kaplan Arena no later than 9:15 a.m. It is crucial that you are not late so we can line you up in alphabetical order according to degree.
  • Where to enter Kaplan Arena -  Use the entrance on the side of building facing Commons Dining Hall and Busch Field. 
  • Where you need to be - Go directly into the Wightman Cup Room.  Watch for signs directing you to the appropriate staging area.
  • Check-in - It is imperative that you check-in with the staff overseeing doctoral candidate line-up. Since your name will be read by the Dean of your school we must confirm that you have arrived well in advance of the start of the Academic Procession.
  • Academic Procession- Faculty Marshals will form the academic procession with the doctoral candidates and will lead the procession at the appointed time. 
  • Walking across the stage - After the student speaker has completed his/her remarks (approximately 1 hour into the ceremony), it will be time for the doctoral candidates to be recognized by name and walk across the stage in the following order: (PhD - Arts & Sciences), (PhD - Marine Science), (PhD or EdD- Education).
  • Getting ready to walk on stage - Remain in alphabetical order at the foot of the stairs on the (audience's) right side of the stage - the first candidate will proceed to the top of the stairs.
  • As your Dean calls the first candidate's name, proceed to the center of the stage to receive a substitute diploma from the President. The next candidate moves to the top of the stairs while the previous candidate is walking center stage and then should begin walking toward the center immediately after the previous candidate has received the substitute diploma.
  • After receiving the substitute diploma, each candidate should continue across the stage, exit by the stairs on the (audience's) left side, and return to his/her seat. 
  • This process will be repeated for each group of doctoral recipients.