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Southern California FAQ for Graduates and Guests

Why haven't I received the e-mail to request guest tickets?
     Two weeks after you submit the Application for Graduation and mark that you want to participate in the Southern Commencement you will be sent the e-mail with access to request your guest tickets. If it has been over two weeks and you still have not received the e-mail, first make sure it hasn't gone to your Spam/Junk folder. Then make sure that you are checking the e-mail address that National University has on file for you. You can log in to the Student Portal to confirm the e-mail address. If the e-mail was sent to an old e-mail address that you no longer have access to, you will need to contact the Graduation Department at to have the e-mail address updated in the ticket website. You will not be able to log in and request tickets unless you are using the same e-mail address that is on file on the ticket website.

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 page 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 commencement ceremony begins at 2 p.m. and ends at approximately 5 p.m. The main ceremony begins promptly at 2 pm. and ends at approximately 3:15 p.m. During the main ceremony the guest speaker and President address all schools and guests. After the main ceremony, the schools divide into individual halls where the graduates cross the stage. Most school ceremonies will end by 5 p.m. however they may take more or less time depending on their size. School of Education, College of Letters and Sciences, and School of Business and Management are the largest schools and may take longer to finish.
     If you are making reservations for after the ceremony, keep in mind the traffic leaving the Convention Center will be heavy especially during rush hour in downtown San Diego and allow for extra time.

Are tickets required to enter the Convention Center for the Southern Commencement Ceremony?
     Yes, tickets are required for all guests, except children two and under if they sit on an adult’s lap. The graduate does not require a ticket since they enter the Convention Center in the Graduate Door in front of Hall C.
     Guests must have printed tickets; tickets on phones or tablets cannot be scanned and are not accepted.

What school am I in or is my graduate in?
     Tickets for the Southern Commencement list the school that their graduate is walking 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 page 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 four to 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 gold 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 black tassel they received from Jostens for a gold tassel. Students do not need to purchase the gold 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 at the Registrar's page. 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 handwrite 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.
In the individual school ceremonies it is much easier to get close to the stage, and when 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 San Diego Convention Center has a list of hotels nearby for out of town graduates and guests.

Are family members, guests, or children allowed to stay with their graduate?
     Guests, including children are not allowed in Hall C Check In or in the Graduate Seating Area during the ceremony. Graduates can go to Hall C Check In, then return to the lobby before the ceremony.

Southern California FAQ for Graduates and Guests

National University is a member of the National University System.