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Commencement FAQs
 
What is the structure of the Commencement ceremony? How long does it last?

In good weather, we hold the ceremony outside on Healy Lawn. Seniors report to assigned classrooms in the White-Gravenor Hall and Reiss Science Building to robe. Students are put in alphabetical order by degree, and given name cards. Students then proceed to Red Square to begin the procession. The University Registrar, followed by the Color Guard and the Class Marshals carrying banners for the school, leads the student procession. The faculty process behind the students. Dean Gillis conducts the Commencement Ceremony, which includes a Commencement Address from the Honorary Degree Recipient. The graduates cross the stage while their names are read. Following the Alma Mater and the Benediction, the faculty and students recess to conclude the formal ceremony, which lasts about two hours.

Diplomas are distributed immediately after the Commencement ceremony on  Copley Lawn where faculty of the various majors greet students and families and offer personal good wishes.

Who is the Georgetown College Commencement Speaker?

The Office of Communications will announce the names of the speakers for all Georgetown University ceremonies in early May.

Where do I get my cap and gown?

If you did not purchase your cap, gown, and hood from the Bookstore during Senior Salute (Senior Parents Weekend), you will need to do so between May 17 and May 22. The cost of the cap, gown, and hood package is $64.00. Some seniors may have the gowns that they wore during their New Student Convocation. If so, they may elect to purchase only the cap, tassel and hood for graduation. The price for these three pieces is $36.00. Representatives from Jostens will be available to sell and distribute the academic regalia. Note: check your hood color. Bachelor of Arts candidates should have a white hood, and Bachelor of Science candidates should have a gold hood. If you mistakenly received the wrong color, plan to exchange your hood between May 17 and May 21.

Is there a rehearsal for graduation?

No. Seniors receive full instructions on lineup and procession in the packets that they pick up from the College Dean's Office in early May.

Someone in my family requires special accommodation seating. What should I do?

Special accommodation seating is at the discretion of Ms. Maria Fiorito. Students with family members who require special accommodation seating should visit Ms. Fiorito in person in 108 WGR beginning April 1, and no later than May 1. Guests who are granted special accommodation seating will receive two tickets, one for the guest and one for his or her companion. Additional family members should plan to sit in the open seating area. In the event of rain, those with special accommodation seating must present both their special accommodation tickets and their rainsite tickets to the ushers in McDonough Gymnasium.

Where can I get invitations and announcements?

The Office of Planning and Institutional Research (OPIR) will send out an e-mail to all Seniors, inviting them to complete an on-line Senior Survey. Once the student completes the survey, he/she may proceed to the OPIR office on 3rd floor Maguire, and pick up 10 free Commencement announcements. The University bookstore also has vendors who sell personalized Commencement invitations.

Where can visitors park on campus?

For Commencement Weekend events, we urge families and visitors to travel to campus by cab. A very limited number of daily parking spaces are available in the Southwest Garage for guests. Please go to the general University Commencement website for a full discussion of parking options, cost, etc., at:
http://commencement.georgetown.edu/tips.html​.

Do we need tickets for the Commencement Ceremony?

No, if Commencement is held outside on Healy Lawn. Seating is open, and first-come, first-served.
Yes, if Commencement is held in McDonough Gymnasium due to inclement weather. All seniors will be instructed to pick up packets from the Dean's Office in May, which contain full instructions for Commencement and 7 rain site tickets.

How will I know if Commencement is on Healy Lawn or in McDonough Gym?

If rain threatens the ceremony, we make a “rain call” three hours in advance, and reconfigure our ceremony in McDonough Gymnasium. We divide the Senior Class in two, and run the ceremony twice. Students are given 7 rain site tickets for their family and guests. The indoor ceremony is similar to the outdoor ceremony. Students are given their name cards and take an assigned seat under the tent in front of McDonough Gym to put themselves in proper order for the procession. Diplomas are distributed from locations in the White-Gravenor Building.

Once the rain call is made, the College website and the University's Inclement Weather telephone message will be updated with the ceremony location. The telephone number is 202-687-SNOW (202-687-7669). You may also check the University's Commencement web site for this information.
If it rains, and graduation is in the gym, can I get more than 7 rainsite tickets? If it rains, can I attend the first ceremony even though my name is in the second half of the alphabet?

No, and no. McDonough Gymnasium will be filled to capacity with 7 guests for every graduate, so we cannot issue additional rainsite tickets nor allow graduates and families to choose which ceremony to attend.
There is generally overflow seating (with a televised broadcast of the ceremony) in a tent outside the gym, as well as in Leavey Center.

Why is my degree an A.B., instead of a B.A.?

A.B. stands for Artium Baccalaureatus, the Latin translation of “Bachelor of Arts.” Your diploma will be issued in Latin (don't worry, you'll receive a translation at the Commencement ceremony).

What GPA do I need to have to graduate with honors?

Degrees are conferred with honors based on the student's final cumulative grade point average. Honors are conferred as follows:
    •    summa cum laude: 3.900 and above
    •    magna cum laude: 3.700 to 3.899
    •    cum laude: 3.500 to 3.699

Please note: GPAs are calculated to three decimal places and are not rounded up.

Students completing their degree requirements in May will have their tentative graduation honors listed in the commencement book based on their cumulative GPA at press time. Honors on diplomas and final transcripts, as well as the rank in class, will include Spring grades.

I'm a double major. Will I receive two degrees? Two diplomas?

No. A double major earns only one degree. It is a common misunderstanding to think one is earning two degrees when the two majors straddle the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program and the Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree program.

Why not two degrees? Think of the bachelor's degree as a four-year course of study, encompassing 120 credits and 38 courses. If one were to earn two degrees, one would be enrolling in an 8-year course of study, earning 240 credits and 76 courses. No one does this. Students who double major have found room within the 4-year degree to pursue two majors. When the two majors could yield either an A.B. or a B.S. degree, the student indicates which degree should be conferred by stating the preferred degree on the Application for the Degree form.

Are majors, minors, certificates and honors indicated on the diploma?

Your diploma will indicate your name, date of graduation, degree earned, and, if you graduate with honors, whether your degree was conferred cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude. Majors, minors, certificates and departmental honors are not marked on the diploma, but do appear on your official transcript.

What is the size of the diploma? Where can I buy a frame for it?

The Georgetown diploma measures 17" (43 cm) wide by 14" (35.5 cm) high. Diploma frames are available at the Georgetown University Bookstore.

What happens if I owe the university money? Can I still graduate?

University policy states that any student with an unpaid balance will not receive a diploma or transcript until the account is settled. For seniors, there will be special billings in March and April. Please check the status of your account in early May to make certain that your account is clear. All outstanding balances (library fines, room damage charges, parking tickets, etc.) must be paid before commencement. The Office of Student Accounts will not be open Commencement Weekend, so accounts must be cleared in advance of the weekend. Student Accounts can be reached at (202) 687-7100.

What is Tropaia?

All seniors and their families are invited to attend Tropaia, the Georgetown College Awards Ceremony, on the Friday of commencement weekend in Gaston Hall. A reception for faculty, seniors and families follows. No tickets are required for either event.

Tropaia is the plural of an ancient Greek word that refers to a monument celebrating a military victory. The word in the context of our Tropaia Exercises means “trophies” or “awards.” This is the main Georgetown College awards ceremony, at which the deans and faculty mark the accomplishments and glories of members of the College Senior Class.

Faculty select outstanding seniors to receive a variety of Georgetown College awards. Some of these medals and awards are historic, given every year to a College senior from the late 1800's to the present. The College Senior Class selects a faculty member to receive the Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Award for Faculty Excellence, and this professor gives a brief address. Honorees are notified by email in early May.

The Valedictorian of the College Senior Class gives the Cohonguroton Oration. ("Cohonguroton" is an alternate historic name for the Potomac River.)

What is the FLL Awards Ceremony?

The Faculty of Languages and Linguistics Awards ceremony honors those students who receive academic achievement certificates in an FLL major, write a senior honors thesis, or have given exceptional service to the FLL. This is a non-ticketed event open to the public; all are invited to attend. Honorees are notified via email in early May.

What is Phi Beta Kappa? Do I need to apply?

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest and largest academic honors society. Generally, the top 10% of the Georgetown College class is invited to join. Interested students need not apply; all eligible candidates are invited in mid-March. The induction ceremony is a non-ticketed event open to the public. Inductees receive instructions for the ceremony in May.

Where can I find out more about the Senior Ball?

Contact Senior Class Committee at (202) 687-4093.
August Graduation FAQs

Can I participate in the May Commencement Ceremony?
 
Yes-you have two options-the May ceremony that precedes your date of graduation, or the May ceremony that is held nine months after you finish the degree.  The College only holds one ceremony each year in May.  Students who can demonstrate a plan to complete their remaining requirements by August (defined as needing no more than 4 classes to finish the degree) are eligible to attend the Commencement Ceremony in May that precedes the date of their graduation.

Our ceremony does not mark you in any way as “different”.  On stage, your name is read out, you proceed across stage in alphabetical order, you shake the hand of the Dean, and are handed a rolled translation of the degree.  The formal ceremony is the same for all participants.
 
Do I need to do anything special to attend the May Commencement?
 
To attend the ceremony that precedes your date of graduation, you should have a conversation with a dean and confirm that your degree progress permits your participation.  The date of your degree must be coded as August.  You should file the standard application for the Degree, with an August expected degree date selected.  August graduates will automatically be on mailing lists for both the May ceremony that precedes and the May ceremony that follows your degree completion.
 
Will my name be listed in the Commencement Program?

No, if you attend the ceremony that precedes the date of your formal graduation.  The program lists the names of students who have completed all degree requirements.

The program printed for the May ceremony succeeding your degree completion will include your full name, high school, and academic honors (if appropriate). 

We mail a copy of the Commencement Program that includes your name.

When will I receive my diploma?

Diplomas are ordered annually in February.  If you attend the ceremony that follows your graduation date, your diploma is available at the distribution point following the formal ceremony and you may pick it up in person.  If you attend the ceremony that precedes your graduation date, there is not diploma for you, as it will be available one year late.  We will mail unclaimed diplomas (by registered mail), to the student’s permanent address as reported on the Application for Degree in late June.  If you have special instructions about where to mail your diplomas, please be in contact with the dean’s office.

What about Senior Week?

Senior Week is managed by the Senior Class Committee, which can provide more details.  In general, August graduates may participate in the Senior Week that precedes or follows their graduation date, but may only participate once.

How do I assure an employer, or graduate school that I have graduated?
 
Once your degree requirements have been satisfied, we issue a certification letter indicating conferral of the degree.  We conduct the formal review of the August degree candidates in late September each year, and notify the Registrar to post the degree on your transcript.  If you need a letter of verification sooner than this standard review, please contact the dean’s office to make special arrangements for an early review and certification.

December Graduation FAQs

Is there a ceremony in December?

There is only one ceremony each year, in May.  We expect December graduates to attend the Commencement Ceremony in the subsequent May.  You will receive the standard senior mailings from the dean’s office throughout the spring term, leading up to the May Commencement Weekend.  We send these mailings to the student’s permanent address.
 
Do I need to do anything special to attend the May Commencement?
 
No. You should have filed the standard application for the Degree, with a December expected degree date on it.  Your diploma will be ordered on the basis of this application.  All “systems” will expect your attendance at May Commencement. (You do not need to give us formal notice if you do not plan to attend).
 
When do I get my diploma?
 
Your diploma is ordered in the annual diploma order which we file in late February.  Diplomas are distributed at various pick up sites immediately following the formal Commencement Ceremony in May.  If you do not attend, you may pick up your diploma in the Dean’s office during regular business hours in late May through early June. We mail the diplomas to the student’s permanent address as reported on the Application for the Degree in late June.  We mail diplomas by registered mail. If you have special instructions about where to mail your diploma, please be in contact with the dean’s office.
 
How do I “graduate” in December? What does this mean?
 
Once the term concludes, and your final grades are reported (or we receive the official transcript for a final course that has been taken away from Georgetown with prior approval of the dean’s office), we mail you a “Letter of Certification” bearing the College seal.  This Letter of Certification is mailed to you at the permanent address and acts in lieu of a diploma until the diploma is in your possession.  We also instruct the Registrar to post your degree on your Georgetown University transcript.
 
How do I assure an employer, or graduate school that I have graduated?
 
You may request that an official transcript be sent direct to the employer or graduate school.  The transcript will have your degree posted.
 
What is the timetable for processing my degree?
 
Routinely, we will review the grades of the December degree candidates in late January and early February.  We will issue certification letters and instructions to the Registrar for all candidates whose records are in order, and contact any students if there is any problem.  If you need certification earlier than this, please make an explicit request for certification.  Contact Anne D. Sullivan, Associate Dean, at 687-4229, or by email at sulliva1@georgetown.edu​.
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