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Commencement FAQsCommencement FAQs

Commencement FAQs

Below in the drop-downs you will be able to find frequently asked questions about Commencement.

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When is Commencement held? Is there more than one ceremony per year?

Cal U holds Commencement two times a year, in December and May. Graduate and undergraduate ceremonies are held separately. Graduate ceremonies are held on Friday evenings and undergraduate ceremonies are held on Saturday mornings at the end of each semester. Both graduate ceremonies and undergraduate ceremonies are held at our Convocation Center.

If I graduate in August or January, which ceremony do I attend?

Students graduating in August are permitted to only participate in December graduation ceremonies. Students graduating in January are permitted to only participate in May graduation ceremonies. 

How long is the ceremony?

Each Commencement ceremony can vary in length based on the number of graduates. We ask that you allow approximately 1½  (1.5) hours for the graduate ceremony and 2½ (2.5) hours for the undergraduate ceremony.

Do I have to apply for graduation?

Yes. Students are required to apply for graduation. It is not an automatic process. Read graduation guidelines and download a graduation application. The process varies according to the college. Contact your dean's office for more information.

How do I figure out which college I need to apply to for graduation? I have a dual degree and am not sure which college to submit my application to.

If you are graduating with a dual degree, you will need to apply for each degree to be conferred, which will require separate applications and separate fees (if applicable). If the degrees are in separate colleges, you must apply at both colleges and indicate which college you would prefer to sit with during the Commencement ceremony.

Where do I order my cap and gown?

Graduate and undergraduate students must order caps and gowns through the University Bookstore.

See Cal U's graduation timeline for ordering deadlines for students and faculty.

What should I know for my family member who has a disability?

General information about Commencement access can be found online. Accommodations are not reserved. Guests may direct inquiries about disability access to the Office of Students with Disabilities (OSD), in person (Azorsky Hall Room 105) or by phone (724-938-5781). Seating is available in order of arrival. University personnel will also be available to answer questions and direct guests to the disability access seating locations at the Convocation Center.

I am a student with a disability; who should I contact to make arrangements for attending the graduation ceremony?

There are a substantial number of steps for general access to the President's Dinner for Graduates and for the Commencement processional/recessional in the Convocation Center. 

Alternate access arrangements for these events and/or all other accommodation requests should be made to the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), preferably one month prior to Commencement. Contact the Office of Students with Disabilities (OSD), in person (Azorsky Hall Room 105) or by phone (724-938-5781).

Where can we stay overnight?

Find a list of accommodations nearby.

I'm in ROTC. Can I wear my dress uniform instead of the required cap and gown?

Yes, you may wear your military dress uniform instead of the traditional cap and gown.

When is the graduation fair and why should I attend?

The Graduation Fair is held in advance of Commencement at the Natali Student Center. See Commencement timeline for more details. Join representatives from various campus departments along with representatives from the University Bookstore, Herff Jones, Balfour, and Framing Success. Order your cap and gown, class ring and diploma frames and finalize your graduation details. Representatives will be available to discuss personalized graduation announcements.

When will I get my diploma?

You receive your diploma a few weeks after the Commencement ceremony, assuming all your eligibility requirements for graduation have been met.

What will appear on my diploma other than my name?

Your name and degree only will appear on your diploma. Commencement honors (if earned) and your major/minor will only be included on your official transcript, NOT on your diploma. Majors and areas of study within a degree are not included on the diploma.

How do I know if I receive departmental awards or honor society recognition?

Contact your department and/or honor societies for a listing of awards and when awards/induction activities will be held. Some departments and honorary societies only hold ceremonies and offer awards once a year.

How do I order a duplicate diploma?

Our diplomas were redesigned for both graduate and undergraduate degrees and introduced in May 2011.

Please send a written request for each diploma to be reordered to include the following information:

  1. Full, legal name to appear on diploma
  2. Degree and graduation date
  3. Number of copies
  4. Mailing address/phone number
  5. Signature and printed name of requester/student
  6. Check or money order for $14 per copy made payable to "California University of Pennsylvania"

Please send all information to: California University of Pennsylvania, ATTN: Jodie Rooney, Office of Academic Affairs, 250 University Avenue, California, PA  15419. The typical turnaround time is 6-8 weeks for reordering.

Can I order a video from Commencement?

Yes. DVDs are available for purchase through Cal U's CUTV for $16.95. Read more.

I heard there will be a dinner for graduates. Can my family attend with me?

Due to the number of students expected, only graduates are invited to attend. Commencement rehearsal will be held immediately after dinner for undergraduate students and graduate students.

Will I be able to purchase a gift for my son/daughter on the day of Commencement? And will any concessions be available?

The University Bookstore will be on site at the Convocation Center with a variety of gift items, flowers and balloons available for purchase. Concessions for food/beverage items will also be available during Commencement.

Why is there a hold on my transcript?

All financial requirements must be met in order to receive your degree. Make sure that you have taken care of all of your outstanding debts/fines, returned all library books, returned all borrowed equipment, received and processed any final transfer credits/transcripts, and completed your Federal Stafford Loan exit counseling. Students who received a Federal Perkins Loan must contact the Bursar's Office for exit information, 724-938-4431. If these items are not finalized before graduation, you will not be eligible to graduate.

To check if you have any holds that need your attention, visit the Student Self Service site, click on "Enter Student Services," log in, click on "Student Records," then click on "Holds" in the drop-down list. You will be notified if you have any clearance issues either by mail, e-mail or phone.

When and where will I receive mailings about graduation activities?

Informational mailings for students who have applied for graduation will be sent by your college office to the address listed on your graduation application. Additional emails with important graduation information and updates will be sent to graduating students' Cal U email accounts. 

A reminder that you MUST APPLY for graduation. Graduation is not automatic. Unless we have received your online (VIP) and paper graduation applications, you will not receive Commencement-related mailings.

How do I make a request for my official transcript?

Transcripts are issued by the Office of Academic Records. Read about how to request a transcript.

How do I know if I will graduate with honors?

Read about undergraduate honors and all graduation requirements. Graduate degree programs award academic distinctions to students maintaining at least a 3.75 GPA among other requirements.

If you have questions regarding your undergraduate honors status, contact Jodie Rooney, academic events coordinator, via e-mail or phone 724-938-1584.

What student information is listed in the Commencement program?

Names of students eligible for graduation and students eligible for Commencement honors (undergraduate only), departmental awards, honors program completion and honorary society recognition will be listed in the Commencement program. Graduate students may have projects and theses listed as well. Be aware that program printing deadlines may prevent proper listings in the program if eligibility or other obligations are in question.

Students who have gained special permission to "walk only" during the ceremony will not be listed in the Commencement program until they have met all graduation requirements.

Commencement programs are not considered official evidence of graduation and must not be regarded as conclusive. The transcript, issued through the University by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, sealed and signed by the proper authorities, is conclusive testimony to the possession of a degree.

I need help finding a job after graduation. What resources are available to me?

Get the Cal U Career Advantage!  The Career & Professional Development Center is your resource for career counseling and planning, resume assistance, networking opportunities and more. View job postings, participate in mock interviews, locate job fairs, schedule interviews and meet alumni in your field.

Check out our upcoming career fairs and events

Should I attend graduate school?

Explore Cal U's many traditional and 100% online graduate programs in collaboration with the College of Education and Human Services, Eberly College of Science and Technology and the College of Liberal Arts.

Our graduate programs are flexible, making it easier for you to balance life's challenges. Talk to a graduate school admissions representative and see why a graduate degree may be beneficial for your career goals and why attending graduate school directly after completing your undergraduate degree may be right for you.

Learn More about Graduate Programs

Each program offers a variety of start terms and one is right for you!

For more information:

How do I stay connected to Cal U?

One of the best investments in your life is your Cal U education.  Cal U for Life helps you see a lifetime of benefits.  Find out more.

Who are key Commencement contacts?

Eberly College of Science and Technology


College of Education and Human Services


College of Liberal Arts   


School of Graduate Studies and Research


Office of Academic Affairs


  • Event Information: Jodie Rooney

Ext. 1584

Office of Academic Records


Office of Alumni Relations


Office of Career Services 


Office of Financial Aid 


Office for Students with Disabilities


Office of Student Affairs  


  • Information Center

Ext. 4300/5669

  • Senior Photos: Joy Helsel

Ext. 4105

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