Before you can walk across the stage in your cap and gown there are several final steps to complete, including applying to graduate. The graduate process starts several months before graduation -- this page outlines the procedures you should follow.
You will be a graduate only after you have completed all degree requirements (see your advisor) and have no financial obligations to the university. The degree designation (BS, MS, MPH, MHSA, DrPH or PhD) may be used after your name only when you have completed all of your degree requirements. While degrees are awarded at the end of each semester, formal commencement ceremonies occur only in May.
Application for Graduation
You must complete the Registrar Office's online application for graduation by the appropriate deadline. View step-by-step instructions on how to complete the online application.
- February 1 If you will be completing degree requirements in the spring semester.
- March 15 If you will completing degree requirements in the summer sessions but want to participate in the May commencement ceremonies.
- July 1 If you will be completing degree requirements in the summer sessions.
- October 1 If you will be completing degree requirements in the fall semester.
Please note that applications submitted after the deadline will incur a $35 late fee. This fee is non-negotiable.
The online graduation application has several purposes, including:
- Notifying the Office of Student Records to begin your degree certification process. Student Records staff will review your academic record and verify that it is possible for you to complete the degree requirements by the end of the semester.
- Informing us of your plans to attend the annual spring commencement ceremony held in May. If you are not sure whether you will attend, we recommend you check the "yes" box, because your plans may change. Only those who check the "yes" box will receive details about participating in the ceremony.
- Ensuring that your name will be correct in the commencement program and on your diploma.
Please note that if you are unable to complete all degree requirements by the end of the semester, your application will be withdrawn and you must re-apply before the deadline for the appropriate semester using the online application for graduation. Late applications will incur a $35 late fee.
May Commencement Ceremonies
The annual commencement ceremonies take place in May to commemorate the graduation of students from the university and Milken Institute School of Public Health. Please note that participation in commencement does not confirm that you have been cleared for graduation!
Graduates are invited to attend two ceremonies:
- The Milken Institute School of Public Health commencement ceremony ("SPH Celebration") will be held on Saturday, May 16, 2015. The SPH Celebration is an indoor ceremony. This ceremony consists of speeches from the Milken Institute SPH dean, an invited guest, and students, as well as presentation of faculty awards. Each graduate is called to the stage to receive a scroll (the actual diploma is mailed later). A professional photographer takes your picture as well as a group photograph of the class.
Please Note: Students should arrive at 10 am for class pictures and special instructions regarding the ceremony and the line-up for procession. Guests should arrive between 11:30 and 11:55 am. Faculty should arrive by 11:30 am. Lisner Auditorium's doors will be closed at 11:55 am for the procession to enter the auditorium. Doors will reopen once the procession has entered the auditorium.
- The university commencement ceremony will be held on Sunday May 17, 2015 on the National Mall (between 7th and 14th Streets, NW) rain or shine. This large ceremony consists of a processional, awards and prizes to faculty, conferral of honorary degrees, speakers (student speaker and major public figures), and the official conferral of degrees by the university president. Students' names are not called at this ceremony, nor do they walk across the stage.
Please Note: Students and guests should arrive promptly at 9 am. The students should directly proceed to join the SPH group and line up behind the school's banner. Location of the SPH banner can be found on the GW Commencement map on the GW Commencement website. The university procession begins at 9:30 am. The ceremony begins at 10 am.
If you have applied to graduate in the current spring semester, or if you graduated in the past fall or summer semesters, you are eligible to participate in the May commencement ceremonies.
In addition, according to the university's "Walk-Through Policy," you may participate in the spring commencement ceremonies if you are an undergraduate or master's-level student with:
- a reasonable expectation of completing your degree requirements during the upcoming summer ; and
- you need no more than nine credit hours during the summer semester to graduate
The maximum of nine credits is a firm policy and not subject to petition or appeal. Doctoral candidates who have not successfully defended their dissertation by April 1, may not participate in either the May commencement or hooding ceremony.
Tickets and Invitation Packets
Please request tickets for the SPH ceremony online. Because of the limited seating in Lisner Auditorium and the number of graduates participating, we can only guarantee each graduate three tickets. Only students who submit their graduation application by the February 1 deadline are guaranteed three tickets to the school ceremony. Late applicants will be awarded tickets as they are available. Please note that there are always a number of no-shows at an event of this magnitude. After the procession of graduates has finished, the staff of Lisner Auditorium will permit entry to guests without tickets as seats are available. Additionally, we have an overflow site which will have a live video feed of the ceremony. The overflow area is at the Marvin Center, room 301. The overflow area may be a good option for those without tickets to the auditorium.
Ticket packets will be available for pick up at 950 New Hampshire Avenue, Second Floor in April during normal business hours (9am - 5pm Monday through Friday.) In order for you to pick up your ticket packet, you will need to show evidence that you have completed the GW Graduation Student Survey. Take the Graduation Student Survey (we will notify you when the link is open). Once you complete the survey, print a copy of the confirmation page and bring it with you when picking up your tickets. Please note that the survey will take a few minutes to complete.
Your ticket packet will contain tickets for BOTH the Milken Institute School of Public health ceremony and the university ceremony. It will also contain a Guide to Commencement on the Mall that provides details about the ceremony and information about obtaining your cap and gown.
Please plan on picking up your ticket packet at Milken Institute School of Public Health, 950 New Hampshire Ave, Second Floor.
For students who are out of town and have no way to come and pick up their tickets and commencement packets in April, there are two options:
- You can pick up your tickets and packets the week of the events, from Milken Institute School of Public Health, 950 New Hampshire Ave, Second Floor, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time for any of those three days.
- Have someone who is in the DC area come in and pick up the tickets during the ticket pickup period in early April. Please email email@example.com with the first and last name of the individual who will pick up the tickets, and also a statement indicating that the student is authorizing this person to pick up their tickets on their behalf.
Regalia (Cap and Gown)
Caps and gowns worn by students at commencement are available at the GW Bookstore in the lower level of the Marvin Center in March. Please plan on attending the Commencement Fair at Colonial Central and the GW Bookstore. You will be able to purchase a cap and gown, announcements and rings. The Commencement Fair is typically held at the end of March.
Regalia will not be available at Lisner or on the Mall.
Printed Commencement Program – University and School Ceremonies
Your name will only appear in the Milken Institute SPH commencement program if you have submitted your Application for Graduation by the deadline and have met the above-stated eligibility criteria. Your name will be listed alphabetically according to the semester your degree requirements were completed.
Diploma and Transcripts
Your diploma will be mailed to you about three months after your official date of graduation. If you are moving, please make sure that the Office of the Registrar has your new address by updating through GWeb or by completing a Change of Address Form available on the registrar's website.
Your official transcript reflects the awarding of your degree and the date of your graduation and, therefore, can be issued to you only after your official graduation date. There are currently two ways to obtain a transcript.
- You may request a copy of your official transcript by submitting a Transcript Request Form along with appropriate payment to Colonial Central on the Ground Floor of the Marvin Center at 800 21st Street NW.
- For more options to request a transcript, please click here.
PLEASE NOTE: Official transcripts will NOT be issued if you have not met your financial obligations to the university. It is the policy of the university not to issue partial transcripts.
If you are a currently enrolled student, you may also review your unofficial transcript online via GWeb.
If you need verification of your graduation before your final transcript and diploma are available, you can request it using the Request for Certification Services Form or by logging into GWeb, accessing the National Student Clearninghouse section and selecting "Obtain an Enrollment Verification".
Who To Contact For Assistance
If you have questions regarding graduation or commencement ceremonies, please contact:
Mallory Boyd, Executive Director
Milken Institute SPH Student Affairs
Jennifer Lyles, Assistant Director
Milken Institute SPH Office of Student Records