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Frequently Asked Questions

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.


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


All doctoral and professional graduates will be hooded during the Graduate Hooding ceremony. Master’s-level graduates arrive wearing their hood. Many Master’s programs will host their own hooding ceremonies.



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


Guests may bring in flowers for their graduate, but no wrapped gifts, balloons, or signs are permitted.

UT has partnered with the Commencement Group to offer flower sales on site. Preordering flowers is strongly recommended.


Undergraduates: Contact the University Registrar.

Graduates: Contact the Graduate School.

Or contact commencement@utk.edu 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.


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 ceremony, so be sure to keep an eye on yours if you choose to throw a decorated 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.

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.

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 in October. 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 diplomas@utk.edu for rescheduling options.


Graduates will receive an email when registration opens.


All graduate and professional students are assigned to the 3 p.m. Friday hooding ceremony.


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 of Tennessee does not hold commencement ceremonies in the summer. Most summer graduates have the option to walk in either the spring or fall ceremony. Certain graduate programs may not allow their graduates to walk early. If you are unsure, contact your department.


  • The Office of the University Registrar 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.

Accessibility

  • Sign language interpreters are present for each ceremony and featured on multiple screens.
  • Graduates needing special accommodations are to contact commencement@utk.edu so we can connect you with the appropriate services.
  • Accessible parking is available in all campus lots on a first come, first served basis.
  • The accessible entrance for guests is located on Phillip Fulmer Way. Guests will then take the elevator to the concourse level.
  • Closed captioning is provided for the webcast.

Health and Safety


Guests

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 fall 2022 ceremony will be on December 15.

Registration information will be sent to graduating students.

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 fall 2022 ceremonies. All summer graduate names will be printed in the fall 2022 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 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 a new 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.


Don’t see your question answered? Contact commencement@utk.edu.