Graduation & Commencement

Congratulations on approaching the end of your nursing program! On this page, you will find more detailed information for applying to graduate, attending the Commencement ceremony, and what to expect after completing your program. This page will also refer you to additional university resources.

Graduation vs. Commencement

We often use these two words synonymously, but it is important to understand one key difference: commencement refers to the graduation ceremony, which is open to those students finishing a master's or doctoral program. Participating in this event is a celebration of graduation, but commencement is not the same as graduating from your program.  

When you graduate from your program, your faculty advisor checks and confirms that you have met all program requirements. The Graduate College then performs their checks to ensure you have met their requirements, as outlined in the Graduate Handbook. Finally, the Registrar conducts a last review and then certifies your degree. This process takes at least a few weeks after the end of the semester and after the Commencement ceremony.


  • You do not need to participate to graduate
  • By Board of Trustees policy, certificate students cannot participate in the Commencement ceremonies (We continue to advocate for this as a college!)
For more details about the Commencement ceremony, including answers to frequently asked questions, links to resources and details about required regalia for MSN, DNP and PhD graduates, visit the Commencement page.


  • You must apply to graduate, regardless of your program and regardless of your plans to participate in Commencement

Applying for Graduation

  1. Before applying to graduate, please complete the graduate exit survey, located in the Graduate College's Graduation Checklist. If you skip this step, you will receive an error message prompting you to complete the survey first.

  2. After the exit survey, enter a mailing address that is valid after graduation, such as a permanent address or your new address, if you are relocating.

  3. You can find the graduation application in Catalyst under My Academics > Graduation/Commencement > Apply to Graduate.

  4. You can apply as early as the first day of classes in the semester before your planned graduation semester. For example, if you are graduating in summer, you can apply to graduate on the first day of spring classes. If you are graduating in fall, you can apply to graduate on the first day of summer classes. The graduation application opens on the first day of classes of the semester before. You can check these dates on the Graduation Deadlines page or on the Academic Calendars page (to see first day of classes).

  5. The deadline to apply for graduation is usually within the first few weeks of the semester, so you must apply at least a couple months in advance. The Graduate College sets the graduation application deadline and is strict about allowing exceptions. If you missed the deadline to apply for graduation, please connect with your academic advisor or student success coordinator.

  6. You can find the specific deadlines for the upcoming semesters in the Graduate College's graduation section.

  7. Graduation fees: master's and doctoral students pay $50 when applying to graduate. If you are not prompted to enter a payment or receive an error, please contact Angie Cook to assist. Certificate students do not have a graduation fee.
For step-by-step visuals of the graduation application, view this Graduation Application Guide (PDF).

Next Steps: FAQ

We receive a lot of common questions regarding next steps after students complete the Graduation Application, so please read on for those answers. 

You can check this in Catalyst under My Academics > Graduation/Commencement > View Graduation Status.

Most of the items listed here are pending review by your faculty advisor and the Graduate College. You will commonly see exclamation marks for: 

  • Baccalaureate degree
  • Total credit hours meets Graduate College minimum
  • GPA meets 3.0 requirement
  • All program requirements fulfilled
  • Earned at least 1 graduate credit hour
  • Time to degree within limit

These require an official review and certification before they are marked with a checkmark. You should plan to see these exclamation marks until after final grades post for the semester.

The red Xs may require your attention, but not necessarily. Check with your academic advisor if you see a red X for:

  • Total credit hours meets Graduate College minimum — you may have a course that is not showing in your degree audit correctly. 
  • If you know you have pending grade changes, such as an Incomplete, you will see a red X in “Please check with your program regarding the following grades.” Make sure that you have made arrangements for completing this class and this flag will be resolved with the completion of your class. 

The Registrar cannot hold transcript orders, which they process as soon as they receive. You should not order your transcript until you have checked Catalyst and can see that your program is complete. If you order it too soon, you will need to order a new one after your program is conferred.

  • Keep the Registrar’s Where is My Diploma? website bookmarked for further information on this step of the graduation process.
  • Degree certification takes much longer than you think. You can expect communication from the Registrar as soon as they complete the process of certifying your degree. This is typically in the first couple weeks of the following semester.
  • Your certified electronic diploma will be emailed to you. Please allow 8-10 weeks for the email with your certified electronic diploma to arrive. View a video and find out more information about digital diplomas at the link. 
  • Certificate students: although you do not receive the above mentioned communication from the Registrar, you will receive an email directly from CeCertificate when your certificate is ready for download. For more information on the digital certificate and ordering a paper certificate (optional), please visit the CeCredential Overview.  

The graduate level does not use the designation of graduation with honors, because all students are graduating with at least a 3.0 GPA. This is more typically practiced with undergraduate programs.

Students who have previously taken classes at UC are granted access to Office 365 for the web (in browser at If an alumnus requires access to Office desktop applications, they will need to purchase a personal license through Microsoft or another vendor. UC does not offer these licenses. Alumni who log into their Office 365 accounts at least once a year (forwarding email to another address does not count) will retain their accounts and data indefinitely. Dormant accounts will be deactivated and all contents removed after 30 days, but can be re-enabled by submitting a request to the IT@UC Help Desk.

Note: Any account that has been deactivated will lose all data including email and OneDrive documents.

Education Verification Forms

If your licensing requires an education verification form, gap analysis or similar, the College of Nursing works on processing these immediately after receiving the list of students who completed programs. The college also processes requests as they are received after graduation or if they are needed at a later date (for example, for a new job).

  • ANCC applications: typically included in your final semester courses and submitted through Canvas.
  • AANP certification application: typically initiated at a student's request and may include a letter from the college verifying needed information for certification.