Northern California Commencement FAQ for Graduates and Guests

Do I have to purchase/wear the cap and gown from Jostens?
     Students are required to wear a cap and gown to participate in the ceremony. Military students can wear their dress uniform instead if they prefer. Students are not required to purchase the cap and gown from Jostens, but Jostens has the correct colors for our school.
     Our graduates wear a black cap and gown. Undergraduate students wear a stole, which is silver with the blue National University Emblem. Graduate students wear a hood that is silver and blue for National University, and the velvet color is dependent on which degree they are earning. See the Hood Colors webpage for the degree colors. Students can purchase just the stole or hood from Jostens if they already have a black cap and gown. Graduate gowns are cut differently than undergraduate gowns, but the student can choose to wear either gown.

How long is the ceremony?
     The Northern Ceremony is usually about 2 hours. If you are making reservations for after the ceremony, keep in mind that it can take more time to leave the Convention Center with the traffic leaving the ceremony.

Do I need tickets for the Northern Commencement Ceremony?
     The Northern Commencement Ceremony is not a ticketed event. We ask graduates to confirm their attendance by submitting the Attendance Confirmation form and indicating how many guests will be coming. Since tickets are not required to enter the Convention Center, the number of guests attending for each student can vary without the graduate needing to notify the University ahead of time.

What school am I in or is my graduate in?
     Graduates line up by the school that their degree is under. When graduates check-in before the ceremony, they are given a Stage Card that will list the school they are in. The Commencement Program lists the students by their school for guests. To determine the school before the ceremony, you can review the Our Programs webpage to determine which school the degree is under.

Do graduates receive their diploma at the ceremony?
     The diplomas are not given at the ceremony; they are mailed to the graduate’s home address approximately six weeks after their conferral date (degree posting date). At the ceremony, the graduates are given a stage certificate.

If I haven’t finished my degree can I walk?
     We recommend that students walk if they will be finishing their degree by the September following the ceremony. However students can walk in an earlier year if they need to and do not require any special permission to do so. Students interested in walking in a ceremony just need to submit the Application for Graduation in the Student Portal and mark which ceremony they would like to walk in. The only students not allowed to walk in the ceremony are those enrolled in credential only programs, certificate only programs, other non-degree programs, or students who have been academically dismissed.

If I haven’t finished all of my classes will I be able to receive the honors tassel for the ceremony?
     Honors at the ceremony are determined by the GPA of courses completed before the ceremony. If a graduate received the silver tassel for honors, it does not officially mean that honors are awarded. Official honors will be determined by the GPA when all coursework for the degree has been completed.

How are honors indicated for the ceremony?
     Students with honors are directed to the Tassel Table when they check in the day of the ceremony. They may exchange the blue tassel they received from Jostens for a silver tassel. Students do not need to purchase the silver tassel.

What name will be read out as graduates cross the stage?
     The faculty reader will read the name that is printed on the graduate’s Stage Card. The Stage Card names are the full official name in National University records. To change your name for the ceremony graduates are required to submit a Name Change Request form with a copy of their social security card or court order showing the new name to the Records Department. The Name Change form is on the Registrar webpage. The Name Change must be submitted 3 weeks before the ceremony to ensure the updated name is included on the Stage Cards. Graduates can also hand write their name on the Stage Card at the ceremony and the Faculty reader will read the edited name written instead.

What services are available for graduates with special needs who are participating in the ceremony?
     National University is dedicated to providing assistance and services to qualified graduates with a disability so that they can fully participate in the Commencement Ceremony.
     Each ceremony stage has a wheelchair lift for graduates who cannot walk up the stairs to the stage. A sign language interpreter is provided at each ceremony to translate the speeches, although they do not translate the graduate names as the written name is displayed on the screen when it is read out.
     Any graduate with a disability who needs assistance or additional services can contact the Graduation Department at (858)642-8260 or Graduates who are already registered with the Office of Special Services can either contact that department or Graduations to request services.

Where should guests sit to see their graduate?
     Unfortunately there is not any way to predict the best viewing area before the ceremony. Graduate seating depends on the number of graduates for each school and cannot be determined ahead of time. When the graduates cross the stage they will also be shown on the screens on both sides of the stage.

Are there any hotels with deals for graduates and guests of the ceremony?
     There are not any pre-arranged deals. The Sacramento Convention Center has a list of hotels nearby for out of town graduates and guests.