Graduation and Commencement Information

Graduation and Commencement Information

Guidelines for Graduate Students

Graduation: Graduation is when a student has been certified by the university as meeting all requirements of their degree.

Commencement: Participating in commencement is a separate process from graduating. Commencement is a ceremonial celebration held that honors students who have just or will soon graduate.


  1. Students must apply to graduate. The graduation application deadline can be found on the Office of the Registrar’s website.
  2. Upon certification/approval (typically by the academic advisor), and after all grades have been submitted, the degree is awarded and is displayed on your transcript.
  3. Students can graduate at the end of any semester: degrees are conferred in December for the Fall semester, January for the Winter semester, May for the Spring semester, and August for the Summer semester.
  4. Degree conferral occurs 4-6 weeks after final semester grades are posted. Diplomas are printed and mailed after the degree certification process is complete.
  5. Minimum Graduation Requirements 
    • In order to be approved by their advisor for graduation and program completion in a post-baccalaureate or graduate program, all students must meet the following graduation requirements:
    • Satisfy all course requirements as outlined by the academic department and program category.
    • Satisfy all non-course requirements (program exit projects/benchmarks/theses/dissertations, etc.) as outlined by the academic department and program category.
      • If a dissertation or thesis is required, or if the student and academic department/advisor agree upon a thesis option, final thesis approval is required from the Office of Graduate Research Services via a fully signed Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form. The Registrar’s Office will reject a graduation application when the thesis/dissertation/special project is not received and fully approved during the awarding period for the term. Students are notified of a rejected graduation application via their Rowan email.
    • Earn an official cumulative GPA (according to matriculation level) of at least 3.000 on Rowan’s 4.000 scale.
    • Students are held to the course/program requirements as outlined in the course catalog/program overview for the academic year in which they officially matriculated. Exceptions to this may be made under one or more of the following conditions.
      • If a course or requirement becomes obsolete in the profession or field and must be replaced or updated;
      • When the program is connected to a state or national certification/licensure and those guidelines mandate a curricular change;
      • If the program is accredited and those accreditation guidelines mandate a curricular change.
    • If the student is unable to complete all items in time, they may either remove their application themselves (if discovered prior to advisor review) or their application will be rejected. Either way, the student can reapply in a future term when they know they will have completed all degree requirements.

Grade and GPA Guidelines for Academic Policy Categories:

  1. For Category 1 programs: No more than two total “B-“ grades can be counted toward courses required and counted for graduation/ program completion. (Any grades lower than a “B-” are not acceptable.)
  2. For Category 2 programs: No grades lower than a “B-” can be counted toward courses required and counted for graduation/program completion.
  3. For Category 3 programs: No more than two total C grades of any combination of “C+” or “C” can be counted toward courses required and counted for graduation/program completion. (C- grades and any grade lower than a “C” are not acceptable.)

Incomplete grades cannot be replaced with withdrawal (W) grades. If a final grade has not been recorded by the deadline for degree clearance, students may need to reapply for the next degree clearance cycle. It is the student’s responsibility to check in with their professor, ensure that a final letter grade (A-F) has been posted, and notify the Registrar when the final grade has been posted.


  1. Commencement is an optional ceremonial celebration by which students may choose to attend by registering. The registration deadline can be found on the Office of the Registrar’s website.
  2. When a student registers to participate in commencement, Rowan University will reserve a seat at the ceremony and provide tickets for guests.
  3. Participating in a commencement ceremony does not mean a student has graduated. Degree conferral (graduation) occurs when all requirements are completed and an application for graduation has been submitted to the Office of the Registrar.
  4. Eligibility to Participate in Commencement:
    • All graduate students who have been awarded their degree(s) may participate in commencement by applying for spring graduation by the registration deadline and registering to participate in commencement. Note that the graduation application and commencement registration deadlines be different.
    • Master’s students who are within 6 credit hours of graduating and intend to complete outstanding degree requirements in the subsequent summer or fall terms are eligible to participate in commencement. In addition, a Master’s student who is only missing the final approval for any required non-credit-based final project and/or thesis is also eligible to participate. Finally, a Master’s student who has completed all other degree requirements but is completing a clinical practice during the subsequent fall semester is eligible to participate in commencement. Students who fall outside of these criteria should speak to their academic advisor or program coordinator.
      • Students eligible to participate in the commencement ceremonies with outstanding degree requirements must register to participate in commencement by the registration deadline set by the Registrar’s Office in order to have their name included in the printed program.
      • Students are automatically eligible to participate in a future commencement ceremony following the completion of their degree requirements, should they not wish to participate prior to completing their requirements.
  5. Doctoral students may participate in commencement if:
    • their program coordinator approves their graduation application;
    • if the student registers to participate in commencement by the registration deadline set by the Registrar’s Office;
    • and the student has successfully defended by the date documented in their respective Program Handbook. Note that final revisions/corrections requested by the committee and changes to formatting required by the School of Graduate Studies are not required to be completed prior to participating in commencement.