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Frequently Asked Questions

General Graduation Information

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


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

General Commencement Information

The Graduate Hooding ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. on December 9. The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on December 10.


  • The dress code for commencement is business casual. Keep in mind the following considerations when planning what to wear:
    • Graduates are required to wear full regalia (cap, gown, and tassel) during the ceremony.
    • Spring weather in East Tennessee fluctuates. It may be cold and rainy or hot and sunny. You will also be wearing a black robe over your clothing.


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


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.


Josten’s has provided a step-by-step guide to assist you in the proper way to wear your hood.


Plans were in place only for spring 2021 in response to necessary COVID-19 safety protocols. There are no current plans to change the ceremony location in future years.



Commencement Registration

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


Registration has not yet opened for fall commencement.


All graduate and professional students are assigned to the 4:30 p.m. Thursday ceremony. 


Yes, the ceremonies have capacity for 2020 graduates who had not participated in a UT commencement ceremony. Graduates should contact their college once registration opens to discuss participation.


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 commencement staff 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.

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 was available.
  • Closed captioning is provided for the webcast.

Health and Safety

  • Safety protocols for fall 2021 ceremonies have not been determined at this time.


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


Guests and Ticketing

Each participating graduate may bring guests. Ticketing and guest limits have not been determined at this time.


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 graduating seniors.

Graduating seniors 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 seniors and their families are invited to participate. The 2022 ceremony date is TBA.

Registration information will be sent to graduating seniors.

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 registration form.


Programs will be available at the fall 2021 ceremonies. All summer graduate names will be printed in the fall 2021 commencement program.


Diplomas are typically mailed one to two months 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.

 

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