Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Commencement...Graduation...What's the Difference?

Around this time of year, we start to get a lot of questions about graduation and Commencement. We've just asked you to apply for spring and summer graduation, and December gradution is right around the corner! But many inquiries confuse something--the Commencement ceremony is not quite the same thing is graduating.

Let’s separate two thing out—there’s official graduation (the university conferring a degree and you receiving a diploma) and there’s Commencement. Graduation is certified after final grades are in, and, I know this seems odd, after the Commencement ceremony. This means that you walk in Commencement before you have officially graduated--and even means that, sometimes, if a requisite course is failed or is incomplete, a student may walk in Commencement but not actually graduate. Students sign up for Commencement in good faith that they will graduate, and we certainly have students who are short in the end because of transfer credits, failing grades, and internships not being completed—but this is all after Commencement. In short--just because you walk in Commencement doesn't mean you've graduated. Yet.

One more thing--your official graduation date isn't the date you walk in Commencement. It's the date your degree is conferred, so for summer graduates, this is particularly significant. If you finish your coursework in August, you graduate in August--even if you walk in May (which is very normal and many of our students do this).

To add one more wrinkle, in addition to the University Commencement Ceremony, SPEA holds its own private Recognition Ceremony each May to honor our graduates. If you run into any confusion when it comes time to graduate--or commence!--please don't hesitate to contact us, or to contact the Office of Universtiy Ceremonies, which handles IU Commencement.

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