Three students in GW graduation clothing

Frequently Asked Questions

When it is safe to do so, the university will host in-person celebrations on the National Mall to honor the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020. 

The information below pertains to the graduation celebrations being held in May 2021.

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What is the Plan for 2021 Commencement? 

University-wide Commencement Celebration 

The George Washington University will host a virtual Commencement celebration on Sunday, May 16, 2021, to officially confer degrees and welcome the Class of 2021 into the worldwide network of GW alumni. The celebration will honor tradition and be an exciting, engaging, “Only at GW” event. The virtual Commencement celebration will be posted on the Commencement website.

School Celebrations

All schools and colleges will host a celebratory experience for their graduating students. Graduating students will receive individual recognition during these celebrations, and they will hear from school leaders and other prestigious speakers.

Individual Graduate Recognition Slide
You’ll find your School Graduation Recognition Slide for download on your school’s commencement site at least 3 hours before your celebration. 

What is the difference between virtual Commencement and virtual school celebrations?

At the virtual school celebrations, there will be a student recognition component. At the virtual Commencement celebration, students from all of the George Washington University's schools come together for the conferral of their degrees. 

Will there be any in-person elements for Commencement 2021?

With Journey Through GW, unique photo opportunities for graduates are being created throughout the Foggy Bottom campus. These installations will be available from May 8 through June 1.

Do I have to participate in the virtual celebration on May 16 to be considered a graduate?

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 adviser 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 relevant instructor(s).

How do I verify degree/certificate completion?

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.


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Celebrating Online 

Where do I watch Commencement Celebrations? 

Celebrations will be live streamed on the web and social media. Visit your school’s commencement website to see the options for watching your celebration. On the day of the university-wide Commencement celebration on May 16, you can visit the Commencement homepage to see your viewing options.

What if I cannot tune in for the virtual Commencement Celebrations? 

Following the live streaming of the celebration, a video recording will be posted on the Commencement website as well as your School celebration website for later viewing. Recordings will be posted soon after the original airing

Will Celebrations be closed captioned?

Yes. Closed captioning will be available in English for the virtual School Celebrations as well as the University-wide Commencement Celebration.

 Watch Together

What is the “Watch Together” option for Commencement?

The “Watch Together” option allows small groups of friends and family to watch GW Commencement celebrations while also visiting with each other via video.

How do I use the “Watch Together” option?

You’ll find the “Watch Together” link on your school’s commencement site at least 3 hours before your celebration. “Watch Together” will also be available for the main virtual Commencement celebration on Sunday, May 16, with timing details to come.

Once a graduate has created a “Watch Together” account, they can generate a unique code that can be shared with other users to allow them to join the video chat room. A maximum of 6 devices (including desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone) will be able to log into each room.

What if I have technical issues using “Watch Together”?

If you’re experiencing technical issues, we recommend logging out and back in, or trying a different web browser. 


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Regalia & Keepsakes 

Can I still purchase or rent regalia?

Yes, you can purchase bachelor’s and master’s regalia online until May 30. Doctoral candidates, including those in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences - Health Sciences Program and M.D. candidates, can rent regalia online
GW Law students should order regalia online (direct ship to home) until April 1.

How can I purchase a class ring, diploma frame or personalized announcements?

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

How will I receive my cord for Latin honors, medal, alumni pin from my school?

More information will be provided by your respective school.

How will I receive my Phi Beta Kappa inductee certificate or pin?

Please contact [email protected] for more details.

How will I receive my University Honors Program honor cord?

Please contact [email protected] for more details.

Do I need regalia to participate in Commencement Week Celebrations?

You don’t need to order regalia for our virtual celebrations, but you have the option to do so if you would like to take photos at Journey Through GW or elsewhere.


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How will I receive my diploma?

For students living in the U.S., diplomas will be mailed within six to eight weeks after the virtual degree conferral on Sunday, May 16. For international mailing, diplomas should arrive between eight to 10 weeks later. Please visit the Office of the Registrar page to review and/or update your shipping address.

How do I change my diploma 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 if you need to update your address, you will need to contact  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).

How do I change how my name appears on my diploma/certificate?

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.


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Commencement Boxes

What is the Commencement Box?

As GW will be celebrating graduation virtually this year, we are excited to send a memorable and engaging gift to our newest alumni to share with families and loved ones.

What is in the Commencement Box?

There are various Bicentennial and 2021 graduation branded items in the Commencement Box, including a navy blue mortarboard and buff tassel memento, biodegradable balloons and confetti sticks for celebrating, locally-sourced office notepad, stainless steel thermal tumbler, graduation banner, and more surprises! GW is proud to have sourced these boxes from a local, veteran-owned business.

Who will receive a Commencement Box?

Undergraduate and Graduate level students who are part of the Fall 2020, Spring 2021, or Summer 2021 cohorts are eligible to receive a commencement box. If you applied for graduation by April 1, 2021, you were included on the list. If you applied after April 1, we cannot guarantee you will receive a Commencement Box.

At which address will I receive my Commencement Box?

Permanent addresses were the default addresses pulled for the Commencement Box delivery. Addresses were provided by individual schools. Some schools opted for another mailing address, i.e. diploma address. After May 31, 2021, if you have not received your box, please reach out to your school contact to verify the address.

Where is my Commencement Box?

Commencement Boxes will begin shipping out late April 2021. If you have not received your box by May 31, 2021, please reach out to your school point of contact for further information.