Commencement FAQs

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

FAQs

Click the question to reveal the answer.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COMMENCEMENT AND GRADUATION?

Commencement refers to the formal academic ceremony, officiated by the President of the University, where you share the excitement and importance of your academic accomplishments with your peers, family, and friends. The commencement ceremony is an opportunity for the University (including members of Cal U's Council of Trustees, administration, faculty, and staff) to pay special tribute to you for the outstanding efforts you have shown in earning your Cal U degree. 

Graduation is the process consisting of submitting an application for graduation, completing all academic requirements for your degree, and settling all financial obligations to the University. The administrative process of degree conferral will indicate your official date of graduation.

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 commencement ceremonies. Students graduating in January are permitted to only participate in May commencement ceremonies. 

HOW LONG IS THE COMMENCEMENT 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 the graduation application process. Graduation requirements may variy according to each degree and college. Contact your dean's office for more information (please see our ommencement contacts listing at the end of the FAQs section).

WHERE DO I ORDER MY CAP AND GOWN?

All degree candidates (undergraduate and graduate) are required to purchase regalia (caps and gowns) available only through the Cal U University Bookstore or online through Herff Jones. All students should plan to purchase the appropriate regalia unit at least one month prior to commencement as sizes become limited and special orders may not be available.

Each participant in commencement must be attired in the approved, University's academic gown and matching cap. An exception is made for students who choose to wear their military uniforms.

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 (Carter Hall - G35) 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 is a considerable amount of walking for during the commencement ceremony. All student access requests for our commencement ceremonies 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 (Carter Hall - G35) or by phone (724-938-5781).

WHERE CAN WE STAY OVERNIGHT?
 

Below is a list of accommodations close to Cal U's main campus.

CALIFORNIA, PA

Hampton Inn
200 Technology Drive Coal Center, PA 15423
Phone: 724-330-5820 

BENTLEYVILLE, PA

Best Western, 10.5 mi., 15 min
101 Gosai Drive Bentleyville, PA 15314
Phone: 724-239-4321

Holiday Inn Express, 10.5 mi., 15 min
23 Smita Lane Bentleyville, PA 15314
Phone: 724-239-7700 

BELLE VERNON, PA

Hampton Inn, 10.1 mi., 14 min
101225 Broad Avenue Extension Belle Vernon, PA 15012
Phone: 724-929-8100

Holiday Inn Express, 10.5 mi., 17 min
181 Finley Road Belle Vernon, PA 15012
Phone: 724-930-0100

Comfort Inn, 13.8 mi., 19 min
4300 State Route 51 South Belle Vernon, PA 15012
Phone: 724-929-3177

I'M IN THE MILITARY. 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.

Order personalized announcements, caps and gowns, and diploma frames online through Herff Jones.

Order your Cal U class ring online.

WHEN WILL I GET MY DIPLOMA?

You receive your diploma approximately 6-8 weeks after the commencement ceremony, assuming all your eligibility requirements for graduation have been met. Please be sure that your permenant address in the student records system is accurate so there are no delays in mailing any official University documents.

WHAT WILL APPEAR ON MY DIPLOMA OTHER THAN MY NAME?

Your name, degree, and graduation date will appear on your diploma. Bachelor degree students earning Latin academic honors will have the designation (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude) listed on the diploma.

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?

Please 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 in May 2011 for both graduate and undergraduate degrees.

Please review and complete the Duplicate Diploma Order form and send all required information to:

California University of Pennsylvania
Office of Academic Affairs
ATTN: Jodie Bonidie, Box 4
250 University Avenue
California, PA  15419

The typical turnaround time is 6-8 weeks. Processing time will vary depending on when a request and payment is received.

  • IMPORTANT:

    Your name on your diploma must be identical to the way it appears on the University's student information system. If any information in incorrect, DO NOT submit your duplicate diploma order until it is corrected. Name and address changes are handled through the Office of Academic Records by completing and submitting the following forms:

CAN I ORDER A COMMENCEMENT VIDEO?

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

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 that will be available for purchase.

A variety of food and beverage items will also be available at the concessions areas in the Convocation Center for both commencement ceremonies.

WHY IS THERE A HOLD ON MY TRANSCRIPT?

There are a variety of holds that may prevent you from receiving your diploma and transcripts. 

Clearance of Outstanding Debts/Obligations: Please make sure that you have taken care of all your outstanding financial issues, including paying parking tickets, returning library books, returning borrowed equipment, and completing your Federal Stafford Loan Exit Counseling Interview, (if applicable). This must be finalized before graduation (approximately 3 weeks) to prevent any delays with the graduation process. To check if you have any holds that need your attention, please visit the VIP Portal. You will be notified if you have any graduation clearance issues via your Cal U e-mail.

Diplomas/Transcripts: Diplomas and final transcripts will be available once all degree requirements have been verified AND any outstanding obligations and debts have been cleared, approximately six to eight weeks after the end of this term. Diplomas will be mailed to the permanent address listed in the student records system, or you can pick up your diploma in your dean's office.

WHEN AND WHERE WILL I RECEIVE MAILINGS ABOUT COMMENCEMENT 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 commencement information and updates will be sent to graduating students' Cal U email accounts. 

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

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.

Clearance of Outstanding Debts/Obligations: Please make sure that you have taken care of all your outstanding financial issues, including paying parking tickets, returning library books, returning borrowed equipment, and completing your Federal Stafford Loan Exit Counseling Interview, (if applicable). All degree requirements must be verified AND any outstanding obligations and debts must be cleared in order to receive your diploma and transcripts.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I WILL GRADUATE WITH ACADEMIC HONORS?

Read about undergraduate honors and all graduation requirements

Graduate degree programs award academic distinctions at commencement to students maintaining at least a 3.95 GPA among other requirements.

If you have questions regarding your undergraduate honors status, contact Jodie Bonidie, 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 (bachelor degree candidates only), departmental awards, honors program completion and honorary society recognition will be listed in the commencement program. Graduate students may have research projects and theses as part of their degree requirements will be 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 degree requirements and have applied for graduation.

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?

Having trouble finding a job or grad program, or planning your next steps?! Cal U's Career & Professional Development Center (CPDC) can assist you. 

The CPDC is your resource for career and grad school planning, resume assistance, networking opportunities and more. View job postings, participate in practice interviews, prepare for job fairs, schedule on campus interviews and meet alumni in your field. 

Don't miss out on possible job opportunities! Complete your profile and upload your resume on Handshake (Cal U's online career center) at as soon as possible. Your resume will be reviewed and approved for posting online by a CPDC staff member so that it is ready to be referred to hiring employers or to send with your graduate school application.

Be sure to meet with your Career Coach in the CPDC soon! Log into your Handshake account or download the Handshake Jobs & Career app to schedule an appointment, or call us at (724) 938-4413.

SHOULD I ATTEND GRADUATE SCHOOL?

We hope that you will consider graduate school as you set your next professional goals. As you finish the final requirements for your bachelor's degree, we commend you for your hard work and dedication on this very proud accomplishment.

As you prepare to graduate, we know it is a busy, exciting, and anxious time. Let us help you make an easy transition from undergraduate to graduate student. We would like to see you continue to grow academically. And, we are here to continue offering you an affordable, accessible, and respected Cal U education while preparing you for the best employment options possible.

Simply apply for one of more than 65 graduate school programs offered on campus or 100% onlineClick here to view all programs.

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.

Earn your graduate degree, Apply Now!

For more information:

HOW DO I STAY CONNECTED TO CAL U?

Cal U wants to stay connected with you! Be sure to Update your contact information now with Cal U's Alumni Association. Discover special services and perks available only to alumni plus events of interest to you and other graduates. 

You've just made one of the best investments of your life. Cal U for Life helps you make the most your Cal U education and helps the University make a difference in the lives of future students.

 
WHO ARE MY MAIN COMMENCEMENT/GRADUATION CONTACTS?
 

Eberly College of Science and Technology

724-938-4169

College of Education and Human Services

724-938-4125

College of Liberal Arts   

724-938-4240

School of Graduate Studies and Research

724-938-4066

Office of Academic Affairs

724-938-4407

Commencement Information: Jodie Bonidie

724-938-1584

Office of Academic Records

724-938-4434

Office of Alumni Relations

724-938-4418

Senior Gift Drive: Randi Minvera

724-938-4248

Career & Professional Development Center 

724-938-4413

Office of Financial Aid 

724-938-4415

Office for Students with Disabilities

724-938-5781

Office of Student Affairs  

724-938-4439

Information Desk (Natali Student Center)

724-938-4513

University Bookstore  

724-938-4324

Caps and Gowns: Pam Pazzabon

724-938-5572