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Commencement FAQs

Common Questions

Graduate Eligibility

All students who are preparing to graduate must complete the graduation application. To access the graduation application, log into SeaNet, select the “Student Records” menu and choose “Apply to Graduate.”

For more information about the graduation application process, visit the Office of the Registrar’s website.

Students who complete their degree requirements in the spring semester are invited to participate in May commencement exercises. Students who complete degree requirements in the summer or fall semester are invited to participate in the December commencement exercises.

Students must complete all degree requirements before participating in commencement, except in the case of an undergraduate student who has been approved after completing the Early Commencement Participation Form through the Office of the Registrar. 

Masters and doctoral graduates are not eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony prior to completing all requirements for their degree. 

  • Students must complete the Early Commencement Participation Form (formerly known as the Walker Application) only if they wish to participate in the commencement ceremony but have not yet met all degree requirements and have additional coursework to complete during the term immediately following the commencement ceremony. 
  • Please visit the Office of the Registrar for more information.

No. All graduates are assigned a ceremony based on their degree-granting college. Graduates should make arrangements to attend their assigned ceremony if they wish to participate in Commencement. We cannot make any exceptions. 

Ceremony FAQs

Commencement ceremonies are separated based on school/college. Graduates can see which ceremony they are eligible to attend by logging into their Commencement Registration account.

Commencement 2023 ceremony times, and departments and schools at each
Friday, May 12 at 2:00 p.m.

Cameron School of Business and Watson College of Education

Friday, May 12 at 6:00 p.m.

College of Health and Human Services

School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, School of Nursing, and School of Social Work

Saturday, May 13  at 9:00 a.m.

College of Arts and Sciences (Sciences and Humanities)

Departments Included: Biology and Marine Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science, Creative Writing, Earth & Ocean Sciences, English, Environmental Sciences, History, Interdisciplinary Studies*, Mathematics & Statistics, Philosophy & Religion, Physics & Physical Oceanography, Gender Studies & Research Center and World Languages & Cultures

Saturday, May 13 at 1:00 p.m.

College of Arts and Sciences (Social Sciences, Creative Arts and Liberal Studies)

Departments included: Anthropology, Art & Art History, Communication Studies, Film Studies, Graduate Liberal Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies*, International Studies, Music, Psychology, Public & International Affairs, Sociology & Criminology and Theatre

*Graduates in Interdisciplinary Studies programs will be assigned a ceremony based on program. Graduates will see their ceremony time when they log into MarchingOrder in late February.

To RSVP for your in-person ceremony, log in to your Commencement Registration account. For those who want to view the ceremonies remotely, the livestream will be available beginning Friday, May 13 at 1:00 p.m. via the Livestream Page.

Yes! Graduates that attend in-person ceremonies will receive individual recognition.

All current university, county, and state health and safety guidelines will be strictly followed during UNCW’s in-person ceremonies. Please review the requirements below.

Health and Safety Protocols: All federal, state, and university guidelines will be followed during the May 2023 commencement exercises. For more information on the current COVID-19 guidelines, visit the Best for the Nest website. Additional information will be provided to graduates in the first week of May.

Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms or Possible Exposure: If graduates or guests obtain a positive COVID-19 test, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, they should not attend the ceremony. Each ceremony will be live-streamed for those who are unable to attend in person. The ceremonies are live-streamed via the UNCW Commencement Website.

As the conditions of the pandemic change, UNCW may adjust the above guidelines.

In-person ceremonies will require guest tickets for entrance into Trask Coliseum. Graduates will not need a ticket.

Guest Tickets

  • All graduates registered for an in-person ceremony have the option to claim guest tickets. The quantity of guest tickets available to each graduate varies by ceremony. Graduates can access their ticket allotment details through their Commencement Registration account.
  • This account also allows graduates to download, email or print their guest tickets. For easy access, we recommend printing or taking a screenshot of each guest ticket for each guest.
  • Guests must have a ticket with a scannable QR code to enter Trask Coliseum. Children above the age of 2 are required to have a ticket. Each guest ticket contains a unique QR code.
  • Guests can either print the ticket or display the ticket via a smart device to be scanned at an entrance gate. Doors will open one hour before each ceremony start time. Guests without tickets will NOT be admitted into Trask Coliseum.

Accessing Tickets: Graduates can access their guest tickets by logging back into their Commencement Registration account.

Parking on campus will be affected by commencement. We encourage guests and graduates to carpool to maximize the use of all available parking spaces. Please obey all posted signs and refrain from parking on grass or fields.

View a map of all parking locations

Parking for graduates and guests during the commencement ceremonies will be available in Lot K, adjacent to Trask Coliseum. Guests with a state issued Disability Placard are encouraged to park in Lot K at Wagoner Drive. If you do not have a state issued Handicapped Placard, You may drop family members off in front of Trask Coliseum prior to finding a parking space.

View parking suggestions for departmental events and receptions

No, graduates should arrive one hour prior to their ceremony in Hanover Gym for check-in.

Students may request reasonable accommodation for themselves or their guests via their Commencement Registration account. Closed captioning and Assisted Listening Devices will also be available for each ceremony. ADA seating accommodations will be provided on the lower level of Trask Coliseum for graduates or guests with mobility concerns. Guests do not need a special ticket to access this area.

Regalia, Diploma, Distinction Cords FAQs

Regalia ordering will open for graduates approximately 3 months prior to the ceremony. Graduates must use the official UNCW regalia site to order regalia. 

Cap and gowns are shipped directly from our vendor, Herff Jones. Typically, you receive your regalia 2-3 weeks after you place your order if it shipped to a residential address. To receive your regalia in time for your in-person ceremony, place your regalia order before Monday, April 18.

Diplomas are ordered through the Office of the Registrar about 6-8 weeks after your date of graduation. Diplomas are mailed directly from the vendor to the diploma mailing address listed on your graduation application. If the address needs to be updated, the graduate must notify the Office of the Registrar to have the address updated. Updating the address in SeaNet will not change the diploma mailing address.

Graduates will not receive their transcripts or diploma if a balance remains on their student account. Students should review their E-bill account before graduation to ensure they will receive their diploma or transcripts. Contact Student Accounts at 910.962.4281 with questions.

A balance on your student account will not affect your participation in graduation. Perkins Loan students please contact Constance Evans at 910.962.7419 to complete your exit interview. Once the account is settled, students should send an email notifying the graduation specialist so that their diploma can be ordered.

Starting with Summer 2018 graduates, the University of North Carolina Wilmington is partnering with our vendor Parchment to provide a new service for graduates, digital diplomas. A Digital Diploma is an official signed and certified PDF of your diploma, secured with a Blue Ribbon Security Certificate. The digital diploma is issued to the graduate's personal email address.

Digital diplomas will not be issued to UNCW email addresses. Digital diplomas are issued only to a graduate's personal email address so that the diploma is available to them in perpetuity. UNCW email addresses expire after graduating from the university. If you have any questions regarding your diploma, reach out to the Office of the Registrar.

Undergraduates are the only students who are eligible to graduate with distinction. Graduate students do not receive university honors. Students who earn a minimum of a 3.50 GPA on all coursework attempted, including transfer courses, will receive a degree with distinction. For commencement purposes, distinction is determined by the earned GPA at the end of the previous semester.

Example: For spring commencement, graduate eligibility is based on the earned GPA at of the end of the fall semester; for the fall commencement ceremony, eligibility is based on the last fully completed semester — either spring or summer.

Three levels of distinction are based on your overall average.

  • Cum Laude — overall average of 3.50
  • Magna Cum Laude — overall average of 3.70
  • Summa Cum Laude — overall average of 3.90

Final distinction will be determined once all grades are submitted for the term and will be printed on the official diploma.

Distinction cords are distributed by the Office of the Registrar. Details regarding distinction cord pick up will be communicated to graduates approximately 2 months before the ceremony. Distinction cords are available only for undergraduate students. Graduate students are not eligible for distinction. For information concerning distinction qualifications, please contact the Office of the Registrar at 910.962.3125.

For additional information on earning a degree with distinction, please visit the Office of the Registrar’s website.

Distance Education and Extension graduates who qualify for an academic distinction have the option to purchase their cords. Distance Education and Extension graduates who qualify for distinction will receive an email in 6 weeks before their assigned ceremony with details on how to place their distinction cord order.

Graduates who have completed the Early Commencement Participation Application are not eligible to receive cords until their official graduating semester.

Students who successfully completed the Honors Program in their major will graduate "With Honors In" the discipline in which their special work was undertaken. For information concerning distinction qualifications, please contact the Office of the Registrar at 910.962.3125.

Personalized announcements can be purchased through the Herff Jones site.

Contact Commencement

Transition Programs

Fisher University Union 2017

Regular Hours:
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Summer and Winter Break Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Friday, 7:30-11:30 a.m.

Commencement ceremonies and related events are managed by Transition Programs.