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. Although in person School and University graduation celebrations are cancelled this year, there are still steps to follow to receive your diploma.
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. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person School and University Graduation ceremonies have been cancelled.
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.
Visit the Office of the Registrar's Graduation Deadline page for the most up-to-date information.
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note that if you are unable to complete all degree requirements by the end of the semester, your application will be withdrawn and you must re-apply before the deadline for the appropriate semester using the online application for graduation.
For FAQ's concerning Graduation please click here.
Please refer to our COVID-19 Pandemic website for updated information.
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 Thursday, May 14, 2020. The GWSPH Celebration is an indoor ceremony held at the Charles E. Smith Center, starting at 5pm. This ceremony consists of speeches from the Milken Institute SPH Dean, a guest speaker, a student speaker and faculty award presentations. Each graduate is called to the stage to receive a scroll (the actual diploma is mailed later). A professional photographer will be present to capture individual and group photographs. A reception for graduates and their family members will be held after the ceremony at 950 New Hampshire Avenue.
- The university commencement ceremony will be held on Sunday May 17, 2020 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 8:30 am wearing their regalia. 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
E-tickets will be available mid-April. Further instructions will follow shortly.
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 Grad Fair at Colonial Central and the GW Bookstore. You will be able to purchase a cap and gown, announcements and rings.
Regalia will not be available at the Smith Center 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
The 2020 commencement activities will be announced in the near future.
For more information on the School Celebration and University Commencement, please click here.
Past Commencement Keynote
Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy at The White House