Commencement FAQs and Important Information

Do students need to apply to graduate?
Yes. Students must submit an Application for Graduation to the Office of the Registrar no later than Thursday, September 15. To apply, visit WebAdvisor and click on "Application for Graduation" under the Academic Profiles heading on the Student Menu. 

Where do students submit their Commencement Fee?
Students participating in the Commencement Ceremony must submit their Commencement Fee (which includes the cost of the cap and gown)
 by Monday, October 31. If students do not complete this step by October 31, they will not be able to participate in the ceremony, but their names will still be printed in the Commencement Ceremony program. 

Where do students purchase their cap and gown?
The cost of the cap and gown is included in the Commencement Fee,
which must be submitted online by Monday, October 31. Graduates are also able to purchase the "2022 Alumni Cord" as a contribution to the Senior Class Gift. Graduates who order by October 31 will be able to pick up their caps and gowns in the Office of Finance and Administration in Brock Commons December 14-16 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm. At that time each graduate will also receive four guest tickets. All student account balances as well as any holds in the Offices of the Registrar and Financial Aid must be satisfied prior to receiving Commencement regalia and tickets.

Where can students purchase Commencement announcements to send to family and friends?
Graduate announcements may be purchased through the University Store website. The University Store in Batten Plaza will be open on Commencement Day. VWU diploma frames, apparel, and other University memorabilia will be available for purchase. 

How many guests can students have at Commencement?
Due to occupancy restrictions associated with fire code, tickets are required. Each student will receive four tickets. Should you have any questions, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs at commencement@vwu.edu or 757.233.3210. 

Will Commencement be livestreamed?
Yes. Commencement will be livestreamed and archived for later viewing on the
VWU Digital Broadcasting Network

When is rehearsal for Commencement, and is it mandatory?
All students intending to participate in the graduation must attend the mandatory rehearsal (details TBA). Students do not need to bring their caps and gowns to the rehearsal. 

What if students have two majors?
Each graduate should walk with the school of his/her major that appears first alphabetically. Consult the School Organization Chart to determine academic school.

  • A graduate who double majors in English (BA) and History (BA) would walk with the Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities ceremony because E comes before H.

  • A graduate who double majors in Psychology (BS) and Criminal Justice (BS) would walk with the Birdsong School of Social Science ceremony because C comes before P, and because both of these majors are in the Birdsong School.

  • A graduate who double majors and earns different degrees, for example Psychology (BS) and Social Work (BSW), would walk with the Birdsong School of Social Science because P comes before S. 

What time should graduates arrive on Commencement Day?
Graduates are required to be in the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center with their cap and gown no later than 9:00 a.m. to prepare for the procession.

Where can photography and video be found following the events?
GradImages provides photographs of each graduate who crosses the dais during Commencement. Photos may be purchased at gradimages.com. Questions can be addressed to 800.261.2576, online at www.gradimages.com, or email ecc.giservice@gradimages.net. There is no obligation to purchase photos. Candid photography will also be available for download on the University Flickr page. Archived videos of each ceremony will be available through the VWU Digital Broadcasting Network.

What if students have more questions?
Please email commencement@vwu.edu with any additional questions. 

More Important Information for Graduating Seniors


Exit Counseling for Students With Subsidized, Unsubsidized and/or Perkins Loan

Any student who received a Subsidized, Unsubsidized and/or Perkins Loan is required to complete an Exit Counseling Session prior to graduation. Please view instructions below and contact the Office of Financial Aid with any questions at finaid@vwu.edu or 757.455.3345.

  • For Direct Subsidized and/or Direct Unsubsidized Loans, please log into studentaid.gov. Students will need their FSA ID and password (if help is needed to reset, call 1.800.4.FED.AID). Once in the site, go to the Loan Repayment drop down menu at the top of the screen and click Loan Exit Counseling. Next click the blue Log In To Start button next to the words I am an Undergraduate Student. This will take approximately 45 minutes to complete and needs to be completed all at once (work cannot be saved for a later time). For any difficulties, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at finaid@vwu.edu or 757.455.3345 for assistance.

  • For Perkins Loans, please log onto heartland.ecsi.net. Contact the Office of Finance and Administration 757.455.3280 or finance@vwu.edu with any questions.

  • If the online exit counseling is NOT completed, students will not be able to pick up caps and gowns or obtain official transcripts.

Recording Student Names
To ensure proper pronunciation at the Commencement Ceremony, graduates are encouraged to visit the Office of Academic Affairs to record their full names.

Accommodations
A variety of hotels and restaurants are located in the Virginia Beach and Norfolk area. Information about these facilities and other recreational opportunities in the area are available on the
Local Accommodations webpage on the VWU website or by calling the Virginia Beach Visitor Information Center at 800.822.3224. 

Commencement Attire Policy for Graduating Students
The Virginia Wesleyan University Commencement Ceremony is the capstone of a students' tenure at VWU and is a formal academic occasion. Students must be in proper academic regalia (cap, gown, hood, and academic tassel) to participate in the exercises. The degree students earn from VWU is represented by the academic gown and hood worn at Commencement. The tassel is worn on the right side of the mortarboard (cap) prior to the degree being conferred and on the left side after the degree is conferred. 

Academic gowns and caps are the dress of the day, complemented by dark shirts, dresses, or dress pants and dress shoes for women, and dark dress pants and shoes and socks for men. Flip-flops, tennis shoes, bare feet, shorts, and other apparel that draws attention to an individual and detracts from the occasion are not acceptable. 

Virginia Wesleyan University's Commencement Ceremony includes a hooding ritual, whereby a faculty member places an academic hood over each graduate's head. This practice, which at many schools is reserved for those receiving master's, doctoral, and professional degrees, bestows great honor on every graduate and adds to the formality of the occasion.  

Shoes and safety: Please consider that you will be walking from the C-MAC to the University Commons, navigating various surfaces, ramps and stairs as you process and receive your diplomas. Shoes with extremely high heels are not recommended as they create a tripping hazard. Also, in the case of rain, shoes could also become wet or muddy. Although students should wear dark dress shoes for the ceremony, other shoes may be left at your seat in the CMAC to be worn for photos before and after the ceremony. The CMAC will be locked and guarded during Commencement. 

Guidelines for Decorating Graduation Caps
Please take into consideration the following rules if and when decorating your graduation cap. Caps will be reviewed and approved on the day of the ceremony. Failure to follow these rules will result in the removal of the cap. Students will be given a replacement cap and if none are available, will be denied walking in the Commencement Ceremony.

Only the flat, top area of the mortar board may be decorated. Nothing is allowed to dangle or hang from the sides or back of the cap (e.g. bows). Decorations must be flat to the surface of the cap. 3-D creations are prohibited. Nothing can be raised more than 1/2 inch off the top of the cap. The cap's decoration should have no advertisement, symbols, abbreviations, initials, words, slogans, patches, or pictures that refer to drugs or controlled substances, illegal activity, tobacco, alcohol, weapons, anything of a sexual or inappropriate nature, or anything that advocates disruptive behavior detrimental to the safety and welfare of other students. There should be no language or imagery that can directly/indirectly be interpreted or inferred to be obscene, vulgar, or lewd. The cap's decoration should contain no loose glitter (glitter glue or a picture of glitter is acceptable). The cap CANNOT make or emit noise; bells, horns, or anything that emits disruptions or distractions during the ceremony is prohibited.

Consider the following when decorating your cap: Thank a parent, grandparent, teacher, or friend; recognize the company, field, job, or the grad school you will be attending/joining; give your graduation year, the branch of the military you will be joining, your home country's flag, inspirational quotes, Bible verses, or symbols, or powerful sentiments.

Non-graduating student members of the Student Government Association will be monitoring decorated graduation caps to determine appropriateness and adherence to the above policies. These members reserve the right to deny any cap they deem unfit, after which the wearer may substitute a replacement cap (limited supply) or be denied participation in the Commencement Ceremony if no caps are available for substitution.

Graduation Honor Cords
All honor cords are to be distributed and received prior to the Commencement Ceremony. Only Latin Honor Cords will be available on the day of commencement and will be distributed to qualified graduating seniors in the C­MAC.

Graduating Seniors: Academic and non-academic regalia may be worn in accordance with guidelines set forth below. If you are a member of multiple organizations, the choice of which adornments you choose to wear is up to you. In keeping with the honor and tradition pertaining to Commencement, you should exercise good taste and judgment in making these decisions. Students should only wear approved regalia to which they are entitled based on their official affiliations and qualifications.

Graduating seniors who are members of academic honor societies are permitted to wear an academic honor cord for each honor society in which they hold membership. Each cord is to represent one of the honors, memberships, and/or academic distinctions listed below.

  • Latin honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude)

  • Membership in an academic honor society, including Honors and Scholars (see list below)

  • Presidential Scholar

  • Wesleyan Scholar

  • Membership in PORTfolio

  • Global Citizenship (Represented VWU as part of a semester Study Away)

Virginia Wesleyan University recognizes the following academic honor societies:

  • Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology)               

  • Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice)

  • Alpha Psi Omega (Theatre)

  • Alpha Sigma Lambda (Adult Honors)

  • Beta Beta Beta (Biology)

  • Chi Alpha Sigma (Athletic Academic Honors)

  • Delta Phi Alpha (German)

  • Eta Sigma Phi (Greek/Latin)

  • Gamma Sigma Alpha (Greek)

  • Gamma Sigma Epsilon (Chemistry)

  • Honors & Scholars Association (Academic Achievement)

  • Iota Iota Iota (Women's & Gender Studies)

  • Kappa Delta Pi (Education)

  • Lambda Pi Eta (Communication)

  • Mu Phi Epsilon (Music)

  • Omicron Delta Kappa (Leadership & Scholarship)

  • Order of Omega (Greek)

  • Phi Alpha (Social Work)

  • Phi Alpha Theta (History)

  • Phi Eta Sigma (Freshman Honors)

  • Pi Delta Phi (French)

  • Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science)

  • Psi Chi (Psychology)

  • Rho Lambda (Panhellenic)

  • Rho Phi Lambda (Recreation & Leisure)

  • Sigma Beta Delta (Business, Management & Administration)

  • Sigma Delta Pi (Hispanic)

  • Sigma Tau Delta (English)

  • Sigma Zeta (Science & Mathematics)

  • The Society for Collegiate Journalists (Journalism)

  • Theta Alpha Kappa (Religious Studies/Theology)

The academic advisors of honor societies whose members have cords shall be responsible for distribution of the honor cords specific for their respective honor societies. Be advised that some honor cords are included in the membership fee while others are an additional financial responsibility of the member. Please see your honor society advisor for more information. If an honor society or other above designated group does not have cords, the Office of Academic Affairs (Clarke Hall, Suite 210) will supply a single generic or "unity" cord, in Marlin colors, to graduating members. The honor society advisor must submit a list of members who will need the unity cord to the Office of Academic Affairs prior to distribution. Please note that no more than one cord will be supplied to any graduating senior. Unity cords must be picked up in the Office of Academic Affairs before Wednesday, May 11.

Military Honor Cords
Graduating seniors who are active duty, selected reserve, and veterans of the United States Armed Services, are permitted to wear a Military Honor Cord to recognize their service during the Commencement Ceremony. Military Honor Cords will be distributed by Veterans Support Services located in the Office of Financial Aid with presentation of their Military I.D. card or DD 214.

Military Honor Cords will be one solid color:

  • Gold: Army

  • Royal Blue: Air Force

  • Navy Blue: Navy

  • Dark Green: National Guard

  • Red: Marine Corps

  • Orange: Coast Guard

Stoles
Graduating seniors who have completed a full semester of study away are permitted to wear a stole representing their host country. The stole must be approved by Mandy Reinig, Director of Global Engagement for The Lighthouse.

In addition, graduating seniors in good standing who are current members of recognized non-academic social or service Greek organizations are permitted to wear one stole and/or one membership pin during the Commencement Ceremony. Each stole must be one style, which has been approved by the Office of Student Activities. Membership pins are to be worn on the left breast of the body, pinned to the stole or commencement gown. Be advised that Greek stoles and membership pins are the financial and purchasing responsibility of the member or chapter, following approval.

*Graduating seniors who have completed a study away semester and are members of Greek organizations, may wear only one stole (approved Greek or Study Away stole) and/or one pin (approved flag pin or Greek membership pin).

Pins
Graduating seniors who have participated in non-academic clubs and organizations recognized by the University are permitted to wear membership pins during the Commencement Ceremony. Each club or organization pin will be approved by the Office of Student Activities. Following this approval, clubs and organizations are responsible for ordering, purchasing, and distributing membership pins to members. Pins will be no larger than 1"x 1" in size. Membership pins are to be worn on the left breast of the body, pinned to the commencement gown. Be advised that membership pins are the financial and purchasing responsibility of the club or organization following approval.