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 Thursday, March 23. If students do not complete this step by March 23, they will not be able to participate in the ceremony, but their names will still be included 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 Thursday, March 23. Graduates are also able to contribute to the Senior Class Gift to receive a VWU Alumni Cord, a senior class t-shirt, an alumni car window sticker, and admission to the "DeFord Manor VIP Experience" on Thursday, May 11.
Graduates who order by March 23 will be able to pick up their caps and gowns in the Office of Finance and Administration in Brock Commons May 9-12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. At that time, each graduate will also receive seven (7) 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.
Tassels will be formally presented to graduates at the Baccalaureate Service on Friday, May 12 at 6:00 p.m. in the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center on campus. For those who are unable to attend Baccalaureate, tassels will be available the morning of May 13 in the CMAC of the Jane P. Batten Student Center.
How many guests can students have at Commencement? Are tickets required?
Due to occupancy restrictions associated with fire code, tickets are required for the Commencement Ceremony. Seven (7) tickets are available for each graduate and will be distributed as needed when caps and gowns are collected May 9-12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Office of Finance and Administration in Brock Commons. Tickets will be collected prior to the ceremony upon entrance to TowneBank Arena.
Some graduates may not claim all seven (7) tickets. Any extras will be made available to other students on a first-come, first-serve basis starting on May 9 at 9 a.m. when pick-up begins for caps and gowns. At this time, the quantity will be based on availability and cannot be guaranteed. Communication will be sent if quantity information changes for unclaimed 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.
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 Commencement must attend the mandatory rehearsal Friday, May 12 at 11:00 a.m. in the CMAC of the Jane P. Batten Student Center. 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?
On Commencement Day, graduates must arrive at 9:00 a.m. in the CMAC (inside the Batten Student Center). If you still need to pick up your cap/gown and tickets, you will be able to do so at that time.
GradImages provides photographs of each graduate who crosses the dais during Commencement. Photos may be purchased at gradimages.com (graduates will receive a coupon for 20% off photo orders when they pre-register before Commencement Day). Questions can be addressed to 800.261.2576, online at gradimages.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Please email email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 757.455.3345.
For Direct Subsidized and/or Direct Unsubsidized Loans, please log into https://studentaid.gov/
exit-counseling/. Students will need their FSA ID and password (if help is needed to reset, call 1.800.4.FED.AID). Next click the blue "Log In To Start" button next to the words "I am an Undergraduate Student." This will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and must be completed all at once (work cannot be saved for a later time). If you need help, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
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.
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)
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:
Royal Blue: Air Force
Navy Blue: Navy
Dark Green: National Guard
Red: Marine Corps
Orange: Coast Guard
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).
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.