Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Frequently Asked Questions – Students

General Graduation Information

Undergraduate students must apply for graduation with the Office of the University Registrar before they register for commencement.

Graduate and professional students must complete all requirements before applying to graduate with the Graduate School.

Registration to participate in a ceremony is a separate process and cannot be completed until the student has applied to graduate.

No. Graduation is the procedure by which the university recognizes that a student has completed all necessary academic requirements for a degree. You must apply for graduation for the university to award your degree, order your diploma, and finalize your academic transcript. Commencement is the public academic ceremony where your accomplishment is recognized. You are not required to participate.

General Commencement Information

See the Parking and Transit Services website for more information.


  • There will be construction in the area during the spring ceremonies. Be sure to check Waze or Google Maps for current traffic information.
  • Review the university’s Clear Bag Policy before leaving your home or hotel.  Thompson-Boling Arena is unable to store or secure prohibited items.
  • Share a vehicle with friends and family whenever possible – spaces are very limited on campus!
  • Avoid Neyland Drive eastbound. Joe Johnson Blvd. to Volunteer Blvd. is typically faster. Follow traffic direction and signage where available.
  • Plan for traffic delays.
  • UBER/LYFT rides may only drop-off and pick-up at Circle Park off of Volunteer Blvd.

Each ceremony lasts roughly two to two and a half hours. Graduates are required to return to their seats after their photos are taken to participate in the Alma Mater and degree conferral at the end of the ceremony.

Undergraduates: Contact the University Registrar.

Graduates: Contact the Graduate School.

Or contact if you’re not sure who you need to speak with.

Commencement Regalia and Dress Code

  • The dress code for commencement is business casual.
  • Graduates are required to wear full regalia (cap, gown, and tassel) during the ceremony.
    • The UT stole is optional.
    • Hoods are required for graduate students. They are sold separately.

Visit the VolShop website to purchase your regalia (cap and gown). Contact the VolShop if you are unsure about what you should purchase.

We have partnered with the Graduate Student Senate and the Free Store for their Reduce, Reuse, Regalia program. Please visit the Free Store to check current availability.

Yes, you are welcomed and encouraged to decorate your cap. Note that there will be a cap tossing celebration at the end of the undergraduate ceremonies, so be sure to keep an eye on yours if you choose to throw a decorated cap. We recommend writing your name inside the cap.

Each academic college manages its own honors cords. Contact your dean’s office for more information.

Eligible graduates will typically receive an email from their college to let them know when cords will be available for pick up. Most have a specific time frame during the semester. If you do not hear from your college and believe it is an error, reach out to your dean’s staff.

Please note that honors cords are not available on-site at commencement, unless you have worked it out with your college’s staff to bring them for you. The Office of the Chancellor does not keep them on-hand.

Here are some of the office locations for cords by college:

College of Architecture and Design – 225 Art + Architecture Building

College of Arts and Sciences – 313 Ayres Hall

College of Communication and Information – 302 Communications

College of Education, Health, and Human Science – 332 Bailey Education Complex

College of Nursing – 203 College of Nursing

College of Veterinary Medicine – Do not provide general cords, order from Phi Zeta Honor Society instead

Haslam College of Business – HBB 342 or 338

Herbert College of Agriculture – 126 Morgan Hall

Tickle College of Engineering – 456 Zeanah Engineering Complex

Yes, organizations and academic departments may distribute their own cords, stoles, medals, or pins to recognize graduates’ academic achievements and extracurricular activities.

For example, the Jones Center for Leadership and Service provides Service Medallions and the First-Generation Initiative distributes stoles for first generation graduates at a special reception each semester.

Specifics for Graduate Students

Master’s and doctoral graduates have different types of gowns and additional pieces, i.e. hoods. Hoods are sold separately. When purchasing a hood, ensure that it is the right color for your concentration.

Master’s Hood Colors

Doctoral Hood Colors

Josten’s has provided a step-by-step guide to assist you in the proper way to wear your hood. A good rule of thumb is “satin goes down”.

All graduate and professional students are assigned to the graduate hooding ceremony. The college-based ceremonies are for undergraduate students.

All doctoral and professional graduates will be hooded during the Graduate Hooding ceremony. Master’s-level graduates arrive wearing their hood and will not be hooded on stage. Many Master’s programs will host their own hooding ceremonies.

Commencement Registration

  • Information on registering for commencement is sent to each graduate’s official UT email address the Monday after they apply for graduation beginning after registration opens each semester. It is critical that graduates check their university email to stay updated and meet all deadlines.
  • All registration is handled through the Office of the University Registrar/ Office of the Chancellor.
  • Students who have a religious or cultural conflict with their assigned ceremony could contact for rescheduling options.

Graduates will receive an email when registration opens. Spring registration will open in February 2024.

Undergraduates should contact the Office of the University Registrar once registration opens to discuss participation. Graduate and professional graduates should contact the Graduate School.

Students who have already participated in a commencement ceremony are not eligible to participate again.

The university does not host a summer commencement ceremony. Undergraduates who complete their degree requirements in the summer typically have the option to attend spring or fall ceremonies.

Non-thesis master’s students can choose to walk in either ceremony.

Graduate students who have completed coursework but need to finish a thesis or dissertation may not participate in the Graduate Hooding until their graduation date. Please contact the Graduate School at with questions.

  • The Office of the Chancellor will send you an email confirming your space in your ceremony. You will receive additional information at your UT email address regarding arrival times, entry locations, and other details a few weeks before commencement.

  • Nashville-based MSSW graduates are invited to attend both. The Nashville ceremony will take place on Monday, May 20. The Knoxville hooding ceremony is May 18 at Thompson-Boling Arena.


  • Sign language interpreters are present for each ceremony and featured on multiple screens.
  • Graduates needing special accommodations are to contact so we can connect you with the appropriate services.
  • Accessible parking is available in all campus lots on a first come, first served basis.
  • We recommend parking on the surface-level G5 in the C6 section lot so your guests can all enter the concourse level together and not be separated.
  • Closed captioning is provided for the webcast.
  • A limited number of large print commencement programs are available at each ceremony. Please ask an usher.

Health and Safety


Each participating graduate may bring guests. There are currently no plans to require guest tickets or limit the number of guests per graduate for the fall ceremonies. Graduates will be contacted if anything changes.

Thompson-Boling Arena Information

Additional Commencement-Related Activities

Yes, colleges, departments, and affinity groups may host their own graduation celebrations. Several annual spring campus-wide traditions, including I Heart UT Week and Torch Night: A Farewell to Thee, typically take place at the end of the school year to celebrate graduates.

Graduating students have the opportunity to symbolically receive the Torch of Service during Torch Night: A Farewell to Thee, pledging to serve both the university and their community as responsible and loyal alumni. This event was formerly known as Aloha Oe. All graduates and their families are invited to participate. The spring 2024 ceremony will be on May 15.

Graduating students will register as part of their commencement registration. There is no separate registration form. Participants will receive additional information in the weeks leading up to Torch Night.

After Commencement

BOPP serves as the official commencement photographer. They work with a company called Grad Images to provide online proofs of the photos. A link will be sent to each participating graduate to view and purchase the photos once they are ready. Graduates have the option to include an additional email address to receive the link on their commencement registration form. You may also search for your name and graduation year on their website to find your photos.

Printed programs will be available at the spring 2024 ceremonies. All summer graduate names will be printed in the fall 2024 commencement program. If a summer graduates applies by a certain deadline in the spring (varies from year to year), their name will also be included in the spring program.

Diplomas are not distributed at commencement. They are typically mailed approximately 8 weeks after the official graduation date (after final grades have been submitted and degrees have been conferred). It will be mailed to the address you provided on your graduation application.

All UT graduates automatically become members of the Alumni Association when they graduate. Visit the New Grads and Alumni Association websites to learn more about requesting a digital alumni card, updating your contact information, and receiving all of the great benefits for which UT graduates are eligible.

Smokey’s Closet is an on-campus service that provides professional clothing for students. They have started an initiative to collect regalia from young alumni for students who cannot afford to buy theirs. If you are interested in donating your regalia, please contact Smokey’s Closet or drop it off during their designated donation hours.

The Free Store is another great option for donating your regalia.

Don’t see your question answered? Contact