Frequently Asked Questions

Detailed answers to common questions are provided below. If you do not find what you need here, or you would like additional information, contact Health Sciences at

What is the difference between Graduation and Commencement?

  • Graduation is the completion of requirements to earn a degree or certification. A student is considered graduated when completion of those requirements has been verified. Verification is denoted on the student’s transcript when the degree is awarded. The dates of each semester’s graduation are available on the Office of the Registrar's website.
  • Commencement is the ceremony in which graduates are recognized for their accomplishment. A student must be eligible to graduate in May, or be completing their program of study over the following summer semester, in order to participate in commencement, but participation is not required.


Where do I go to order my regalia (caps, hoods, and gowns) for commencement events?

  • Students can order their regalia through our partners at Herff Jones. Students should navigate to “Order a Cap and Gown” and select the following options from the drop down menu:
    • Cap and Gown and/or Announcements
    • School of Medicine & Health Sciences
    • Bachelor or Master/Doctorate (e.g. OTD, PhD, DPT, DHSc)/MD - Selecting your program of study will direct you to the correct colors for your regalia (i.e. dark blue, green, etc.).*
    • Select the date for May Commencement
    • Select your specific degree level

*PhD graduates should select the traditional dark blue hoods for graduates with a degree in philosophy.
**Students can either rent or purchase regalia. Contact Herff Jones directly for support by emailing or calling 800-552-3228.

How can I request additional tickets for my family and friends to attend the SMHS commencement celebration?
Please contact the Commencement Planning Committee by emailing Please identify the program you are graduating from and how many additional tickets you are requesting. OSS will make every effort to provide additional tickets.

My family or I will need accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for the commencement celebration. Who should we contact?
Please contact the Commencement Planning Committee by emailing We partner with the University’s Office of Disability Support Services and Lisner Auditorium staff to ensure a fully accessible celebration. We can provide specific details and instructions via email.

Where can I find information about George Washington University’s commencement celebration for other students from across the university?
Details on the university wide celebration can be found on GW’s Commencement website.

Will I get my diploma at commencement?
Diplomas are not handed out during the commencement ceremony. Your diploma will be mailed to you from the Office of the Registrar 8-12 weeks following commencement.

Where can I find information about my diploma/confirmation of my graduation status/update my address to ensure my diploma is mailed to the correct address?
Please visit GW’s Office of the Registrar for details related to graduation clearances or contact for specific questions.

What is the size of my diploma?
Diploma sizes vary be degree earned. The undergrad and master's are 8.5x11", and the doctoral are 11X14".

Applying for Graduation

GW Graduation Services manages graduation. Visit for information on application deadlines, online grad app instructions (and to access the late graduation application and certificate completion application), commencement, diplomas and certificates, certified electronic credentials, and graduation FAQs.

When do I need to submit my graduation or certificate application?
Degree-seeking students can submit their graduation application via GWeb once registered for their final semester of classes and by the deadlines posted on the Graduation Services website. Certificate students submit the certificate completion application to in advance of the deadlines posted on the Graduation Services website.

What happens after I submit my graduation or certificate application?
Students records are reviewed to verify that all degree requirements have been fulfilled; this is called the clearance process. Clearances cannot begin until final grades have been entered. This is done at the School level. Once cleared, Graduation Services is notified and can update the student’s academic record. After this update, the diploma or certificate can be ordered.

I missed the online graduation application deadline. How do I apply for graduation?
You will need to complete the late “paper” application and submit it to Note that late applications may take longer to process. Visit the Graduation Services website to access the late grad app.

I’m registered for my final semester and am enrolled in clinical rotations/practicums. There is a chance I may not complete them before the end of the semester, what should I do?
Submit a graduation application for the current semester! If you’re able to complete the course requirements on time, you can be cleared to graduate in a timely manner. If you wait and see, you will need to submit a late application which will delay the clearance process.