What's the difference between commencement and graduation?

Graduation refers to the awarding of your degree--all requirements have been completed and the degree will print on your transcript. Commencement is a ceremony. You have to be an approved candidate for graduation to participate in commencement. Students are graduated three times per year: at the end of each semester (mid-May, early August, mid-December). Commencement occurs twice per year, in May and December. Students graduating in summer MAY be eligible to participate in the preceding spring commencement. This is the only time students may participate in commencement ceremony that does not match their graduation semester.

Do I have to apply for graduation?

The simple answer is yes, you must apply for graduation. The University has an enrollment of approximately 12,000 students who enter the University in different semesters and different years. Some have early college, advanced placement or transfer credit so they will complete their requirements more quickly than other students. Some are pursuing degree programs with different hour requirements. Some students change majors or options and will need more hours to complete their more recently declared major. With all those individual differences, it is nearly impossible for the University to determine who will actually be graduating when. So if you don't apply for graduation, no one but you will know that you are planning to graduate.

When is the deadline to apply for graduation?

Students may apply for graduation as soon as they complete enrollment for their final requirements (that includes WP003, CL's and registration for MAPP2 for undergraduates, and for graduate students, GR609 and comps or orals.) For spring and fall candidates, the deadline is finals week in the semester preceding graduation (i.e., for spring, you would apply in December, during fall finals week). For summer candidates wishing to participate in spring commencement, it is the Friday of the week of summer priority enrollment. If you are graduating in summer and do not wish to participate in spring commencement, your application deadline is generally the first day of the summer pre-session. Students are encouraged to apply for graduation as soon as they have completed enrollment for their final semester. This allows for more time to resolve any unexpected problems.

May I participate in commencement other than in the semester when I'm graduating?

Spring and fall candidates participate in the semester in which they are approved as a candidate to receive their degree. Since there is no summer commencement exercise, summer candidates for graduation MAY be eligible to participate in the preceding spring commencement if they enroll and apply for graduation by the published deadline, or will participate in the fall commencement ceremony immediately after their summer graduation. The graduation application should be marked for summer graduation. There is also a space for those planning to graduate in the summer to indicate which ceremony they prefer.

Do I have to attend commencement?

No; however you still have to apply for graduation, fill out candidate information as soon as you are approved as a candidate for graduation, and meet all graduation requirements. Your cooperation is appreciated in letting us know that you won't be attending so that we can plan seating accordingly. A word of caution: You may not wish to participate in commencement, but your family may have other ideas. Even if you think you aren't going to attend, we advise you to order a cap and gown. There is no additional cost, and if your family changes your mind for you, you will be prepared. Many students also want the cap and gown for photographic purposes.

How much does it cost to graduate?

There is a graduation fee of $35 which is the only cost imposed by the University. That fee is charged to your University account when your application for graduation is approved. It covers administrative costs of evaluating your eligibility to graduate, preparing your diploma, postage, etc. Your cap and gown are free. If you choose to purchase souvenir tassels, announcements, rings, a diploma cover or frame, etc., there will be additional costs based on those choices.

Is there anything special I have to do if I'm taking a course somewhere else in my last semester?

Yes. You will need to verify that the course you want to take will transfer as expected, provide proof of enrollment (see the instructions attached to the graduation application) and when the course is finished, have your official transcript(s) sent to the Registrar's Office.

How many guests may I bring to commencement?

For fall commencement, students are asked to limit their guests to six. For spring commencement, candidates need to limit their guests to four, so that adequate seating can be provided. Spring commencement will also include an overflow seating area with big screen televisions. If you intend to invite more than four guests, please choose up to four to be seated in the arena, and ask the remainder to use the overflow seating area. (The view is excellent--better than many seats in the arena.)

If my family cannot attend commencement, how can they see me graduate?

You can purchase a DVD of commencement. If you order on or before Commencement day, the cost is $20 shipped to your home. If you order after commencement day or later, the cost is $30, to include the special handling that is required for a later order. In addition, the ceremony is streamed live to the web. Please see the commencement site for the address.

When is commencement rehearsal?

Because students don't follow the same schedule, and because the facility also has other uses, there is no rehearsal. You will receive an overview of the ceremony and written instructions when you pick up your cap and gown. There will also be faculty marshals to direct you at commencement.

What if I fail a course or get an incomplete in my final semester?

Candidates for graduation have three weeks after commencement to complete grades of incomplete, submit official transcripts from other institutions and verify the accuracy of grades received. If you believe you have received an incorrect grade, please discuss it with the instructor. Mistakes happen and it is possible that your instructor could have computed your grade incorrectly. If a failing grade is received in a course you need to graduate and the grade is accurate, you will need to enroll in suitable course work in a subsequent semester, and apply for graduation in that semester.

What do I do with my cap and gown after commencement?

There will be recycle bins available at the reception on commencement day, where you may deposit it for recycling (but most students want to keep the tassle.)  Otherwise, it is yours to keep. This allows you to get as many pictures as you desire, even with people who could not attend commencement. (They also make excellent costumes after Commencement.)

When do I get my diploma cover?

Some years ago, Southeast chose to discontinue the use of diploma covers on the basis of student preferences. Our graduates told us they prefer to frame and display their diplomas, and therefore discarded the diploma cover. Southeast does not wish to contribute to the further deterioration of our planet by creating unnecessary waste. However, we do wish to accommodate the needs of our graduates. The Southeast Bookstore carries diploma covers as well as several selections of frames suitable for the diploma. Diploma frames may also be purchased from our regalia vendor at cap and gown pickup, or ordered through our website: http://www.semo.edu/commencement

What is on my diploma? When will I receive it and how will it be packaged?

Diplomas will show your name as indicated on your graduation application, your degree, honors if applicable, and the date of graduation. You may pick up your diploma during the specified period (you'll be notified by e-mail), otherwise it will arrive in the mail about eight weeks after the end of the semester in which you complete graduation requirements. Diplomas are mailed to the address you verify as correct when you pick up your cap and gown, and will arrive in a flat 9 x 12 cardboard mailer. If your mail box will not accommodate that size mailer, you may want to speak with your local post office to make arrangements for delivery.

What will I get with my diploma?

The package you receive will include the diploma, a complimentary copy of your official transcript, and, if possible, a copy of the commencement program that includes your name. Please keep your transcript in a safe place--there may be times when you need to quickly provide one for job opportunities, etc.

What if I have questions regarding graduation and/or commencement?

You may find answers to your questions in one of several ways: Email us at graduation@semo.edu. Stop by the Registrar's Office (Academic Hall 057). Call the Registrar's Office - 573.651.2051. Visit the Commencement Website.


Academic Hall 057
One University Plaza, MS 3760
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701