Apply for Graduation

Undergraduate students

All undergraduate students must apply for graduation. Most students with at least 100 credits will get a reminder email letters with information about applying for graduation.

When you apply for graduation, you select the specific term (e.g., Fall 2019) when you plan to complete your degree requirements. Student Center usually offers the next two to three terms as choices.

The apply for graduation action doesn’t give you an immediate check that your degree requirements have been met: it notifies your school/college of your intention. Some schools/colleges may send email communications to students who have not completed requirements, but this practice varies across campus.

Your academic advisor can help you track your progress, including learning how to use UW–Madison’s degree audit reporting system (DARS).

Graduate students

All graduate students should use the apply for graduation action in Student Center to note your preferences for commencement. However, the “intended degree completion term” in the student center is not used by the Graduate School. Information about the commencement ceremony can be found on the Chancellor’s commencement website.

Official graduation instructions for completing your masters or doctoral degree can be found on the Graduate School website on the “Completing your master’s degree” page or the “Guide to preparing your doctoral dissertation” page, including information about receiving a degree warrant.

Your graduate program coordinator can help you track your degree progress. The Graduate School degree coordinators can be of assistance regarding official graduation and degree conferral.

How your name appears

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Your name in the commencement program

In Student Center, the apply for graduation action asks if you plan to participate in a commencement ceremony for a specific fall or spring term (no commencement event in summer).

You need to apply for graduation before the deadline announced by the Chancellor’s Office, if you want your name in the commencement program. It’s usually in early November (for December commencement) and early April (for May commencement). Find the current deadline on the Chancellor’s commencement website.

You can select different terms for graduation and commencement. For example, you plan to enroll in a summer term course to complete your degree, and want to join your friends for the May commencement. You would apply to graduate with an intended degree completion term of summer, and a commencement ceremony in spring.

Name in Use. — You have the option to have your name in use appear in the commencement program and in related communications. Please contact us if you need to change your legal name in UW student records.

FERPA Hold Waiver. — If you have set a “FERPA hold” restriction on your education records, restricting its release to third parties, you can override this to allow the commencement program and related communications to list your name.

Your diploma name

In Student Center, the apply for graduation action asks you to select your diploma name. You can choose between Legal Name or Name in Use/Preferred. 

You can make changes to your name in use or legal name after initially applying to graduate. The name in use or legal name at the time of the diploma order is what will be printed on the diploma. Any changes after the degree conferral date are not guaranteed to be reflected on your diploma due to the timing of degree posting and diploma ordering. 

You can also go back into the application for graduation to change your diploma name preference if you wish (e.g. to change from legal to name in use). Again, the name at the time of diploma ordering is what will appear on their diploma, so final selections should be completed by the degree conferral date each term. 

Please note that changes to name in use/legal name after the apply to graduate deadline will not impact the name that appears on the commencement program. 

If you do not complete an application for graduation, your diploma name will default to your legal name.