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Undergraduate Commencement FAQs

Commencement Ceremonies at University Park


Q: How do I know if I am going to graduate with distinction?
A: Graduation with Distinction is awarded to baccalaureate degree candidates with at least 60 credits earned at Penn State who are in the top 12% of a college's graduating class, so the designated cumulative grade-point averages differ among colleges and may fluctuate from year to year.

Read more about Graduation with Distinction.

Q: When and where is commencement held?

    A: The date for commencement varies each semester. The date and time is announced on the College of Education Web site the semester previous to that ceremony. Review future dates for commencement on the University Commencement Web Site.


    Q: Do I need tickets?
    A: Tickets are not required, but we expect the facility to be filled to capacity. So the best seats will be available when the door opens one hour before the ceremony begins.

    Q: What should I wear to the graduation ceremony?
    A: All students must wear the academic costume (cap and gown) or the uniform of one of the armed forces.

    Due to the formality of the occasion and for safety issues walking on the steps and stage, please wear appropriate footwear; flip flops, clogs, and loose fitting shoes are not recommended. In addition, it is requested that men wear slacks and a dress shirt with tie. For women, slacks with a blouse, or a dress is appropriate.

    Ornamentation representing honorary societies or nationalities is not approved attire for Penn State academic ceremonies. The only approved adornment that may be worn with the cap and gown are the medals awarded at the Schreyer Honors College Medal ceremony. The tassel on the cap should be worn on the right front edge until your degree is conferred. Once the degree is conferred, you may move your tassel to the left side of the cap.

    Q: Where can I purchase my cap and gown?
    A: Caps and gowns may be purchased at the Penn State Bookstore located next to the HUB or at any of the bookstores located downtown. The Penn State Bookstore requires students to advance order the cap and gown. An order form, available from the Bookstore, should be completed and returned to the Bookstore along with payment in the form of check, cash or money order. If you need assistance regarding your academic regalia order, contact the Penn State Bookstore at 814-865-7162. If you plan on purchasing a cap and gown from one of the other bookstores, please contact the bookstore directly for order information.

    The Penn State graduation gown has gone "green." Commencement attire remains blue, but it is environmentally friendly as well. The new "blue" is noticeably different from the color of the gowns worn at commencements prior to 2010. The new "blue" more accurately represents the official Penn State Blue. For that reason, we ask graduating students to refrain from wearing gowns from past commencement ceremonies.

    Q: What time should I arrive?
    A: You should plan to arrive on campus at least one hour prior to the ceremony. This also should provide sufficient time to find parking and arrival at the commencement facility in time for the ceremony.

    Q: Where should we park?
    A: General parking will be available in the Stadium West, Jordan East, and East Parking Deck lots. There is no fee for parking in the open lots, the parking deck as a minimal fee.

    Parking for guests with disabilities is available in the Founders Parking Lot (Orange L), east of the Jordan Center located off Curtin Road. Parking attendants will be on duty to guide you. The driver may drop the passenger off at the Founders Lounge entrance and then park the vehicle. No parking placards are needed for this lot and there is no fee for parking.

    Q: What if a graduate has a disability?
    A: Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. It is very important that graduates notify the Office of Campus and Community Events their earliest convenience if they anticipate needing any type of special accommodations. You may reach them by calling 814-865-2501. This information is available in alternative media on request.

    Q: What if guests need special accommodations?
    A: Guests and family members with disabilities should refer to “Family Accessibility” at the following Web site for complete seating and parking information:

    Q: How does my name get on the graduation list?
    A: To graduate you must satisfy all the University, college, and major requirements that were in effect at the time of your most recent admission, or readmission, as a degree candidate to the University. The variation among students in terms of credits earned or semesters attended is dependent on the major or number of majors and minors a student chooses to complete. Because of this fact, we cannot determine a student's graduation status based on credits earned or semesters attended. It is, therefore, your responsibility to notify the University of your intent to graduate by using Lionpath at the beginning of the semester in which you plan to graduate.

    During the graduation activation period you may enter your intent or remove your name from the graduation list. The graduation activation period for a semester typically begins a week prior to the beginning of classes and continues two weeks into that semester. After the graduation activation period expires, only the status is available via Lionpath. If you need to change your status after the initial activation period, contact the Advising & Certification Center at 814-863-1497.

    Q: When and how will I receive my diploma?
    A: Your diploma will be mailed to your home address approximately three weeks after the ceremony. It is the responsibility of all graduates to make certain that their correct mailing address is on file with the University Registrar's Office.

    Q: I plan to take a course at another school and transfer it to Penn State in order to graduate. What is the deadline for transferring the credits?
    A: To determine if your transfer credits will be processed in time for graduation, please contact your academic advisor in the Advising & Certification Center.

    If you have further questions regarding the undergraduate commencement ceremony for the College of Education, please feel free to call 814-863-1497 or 814-865-0488.