Three students in GW graduation clothing

Frequently Asked Questions

The university has engaged members of our community, particularly our graduating students and their families, in order to collect feedback and ideas and consider a range of scenarios for in-person graduation elements. We have heard loud and clear that the community’s top priority is having a university-wide Commencement on the National Mall, even if it must take place at some point in the future, at a time when it is safe to gather. 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, with each class enjoying its own, curated celebration.

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.

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?

Yes, there will be a variety of in-person elements celebrating our graduates. The Foggy Bottom campus will be branded in high-visibility areas to celebrate the Class of 2021, creating photo opportunities for graduates and other elements. To celebrate at home, graduates of the Class of 2021 will be mailed a “celebration box” that will include GW-branded items. Other in-person and virtual elements are forthcoming.

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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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.


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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.