Commencement 2020 FAQ

Last Updated April 20, 2020

Due to recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pertaining to the rising number of COVID-19 cases nationally and in the D.C. region, the George Washington University has made the difficult decision not to hold school and university-wide commencement ceremonies in person this year. Please see GW’s official COVID-19 FAQs for more information.

University-wide Commencement Ceremony 

The George Washington University will host a Virtual Commencement Celebration on Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 11 a.m. EST to officially confer degrees and welcome the Class of 2020 into the world-wide network of GW alumni. The Virtual Commencement Celebration will be posted to GW’s Facebook page and on the commencement website. In addition to hosting a virtual ceremony to commemorate this milestone, the Class of 2020 is invited to attend the Bicentennial Commencement on the National Mall in May 2021.


School Celebration Ceremonies

The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce that all schools and colleges will host a uniform celebratory experience for their graduating students. The ceremonies will be held online with various speakers who will address the student body and include individual recognition of all graduates. Details are being finalized and a schedule will be posted on the commencement website soon.

At the virtual school ceremonies there will be a student recognition component to replace the traditional "calling" of students' names individually to "cross the stage". In addition, degrees are not conferred at school ceremonies.  At the Virtual Commencement Celebration, students from all of the George Washington University's schools come together for the conferral of their degrees by President Thomas LeBlanc.

School celebration ceremony programs will be available on the commencement website for PDF download.

No, you can check your unofficial transcripts on GWeb to see if your degree/certificate shows an "Awarded" date. If not, check to see if your DegreeMAP (through GWeb) shows completion of requirements at 100%. If your requirements are not displaying 100% completion, please

contact your advisor or your college/school advising office to check on the status of your clearance. If all of your grades are not posted, please check with your instructor(s).

After your degree/certificate has been awarded, you can get official verification of completion through a Transcript or Certification request. If your degree/certificate is still pending, you can request certification of anticipated graduation, but your graduation date will not be posted on your transcript until your degree/certificate has been awarded.

Employers or other third-parties can request verification through the National Student Clearinghouse

Yes, you can still purchase bachelor’s and master’s regalia online until July 1, 2020. Doctoral candidates, including SMHS-HSP and M.D., can also rent regalia online until July 1, 2020. Herff Jones has waived all shipping charges. 

GW Law students may rent regalia at no cost to them. If you are interested in receiving regalia, email [email protected] with your name, height, weight (less than 200 lbs. or more than 200 lbs.), hat size, degree (J.D., L.L.M., M.S.L., or S.J.D.), and your address where regalia is to be mailed. The regalia will be shipped to the address you provide and a shipping label will be provided for you to return the regalia.

Herff Jones will refund your purchase up until the original ceremony date. If you choose to return your cap and gown (including tassel, stole, hood or cords), you can do so by visiting the College Regalia Returns page. For additional information, please contact the Herff Jones customer service team at 1-800-837-4235.

If you ordered a Herff Jones College Personalized Graduation Package, which included a diploma frame, Herff Jones will contact you for your shipping address and ship it to you for no additional cost. 

Class rings, diploma frames and personalized announcements can be purchased through the Herff Jones website.

Souvenir tassels can be purchased through the Herff Jones website. Please select “Order Announcements” on the Herff Jones landing page and then select “Announcements” on the top navigation bar.

Depending on the airline or hotel you used to make plans, you may be required to show proof of the university’s commencement postponement to change or cancel plans. Please refer to the official announcement from GW President Thomas LeBlanc in GW Today, published on March 16, 2020.

Yes, there will be a student speaker at the virtual ceremony. More details will be announced soon. 

For students living in the U.S., diplomas will be mailed within 6-8 weeks after the virtual degree conferral ceremony on Sunday, May 17, 2020. For international mailing, diplomas should arrive between 8-10 weeks later. Please visit the Office of the Registrar page to review and/or update your shipping address.

If your diploma mailing address changes after you apply for graduation, you can update your address using the Biographical Update form.  You should also notify the Office of the Registrar - Graduation Services at [email protected] prior to order. Please note that the USPS will not forward diplomas/certificates to a new address, so you will need to notify Graduation Services directly.

If your diploma is mailed to the address on record and the diploma is returned there will be a fee of $25 for re-mailing or if lost, $50 for replacement (additional fees may apply for international mailing).

If your preferred diploma/certificate name format differs from the Banner name on record, or if your name changes after you apply for graduation, you must submit a Biographical Update form prior to the posted deadlines to avoid fees for replacements, making sure to indicate you have applied for graduation. A "name change" may refer to a formal legal name change, or

updating the existing name on record to include a middle name or initial, capitalization, adding an accent or punctuation, etc. 

If you only wish to spell out a middle name or change a middle name to an initial, sending an email to [email protected] is sufficient as long as the middle name or initial is on record.

Name changes can be made after the posted deadlines, however, additional fees and processing time will apply for replacement diplomas/certificates.

The answer varies by school. We suggest contacting your respective school to learn more.