Graduate students

Applying for Graduation, Graduate Students

Policy Number: 100334

Current Policy

Category: Academic » Enrollment



Before the university can grant a degree or graduate certificate, the university must verify that the student has met the requirements explained below as well as all requirements specified in related policies pertaining to Master's and Doctoral degrees and graduate certificates. (Related Policies, at bottom.)

Graduation is not automatic. All students who wish to graduate from NAU must file an application for graduation with the Graduate College. The purpose of this application is to verify that the student has met all certificate or degree requirements prior to graduation. Once approved, the application is entered into the system.

Students are required to submit applications for graduation during the term before the one in which they expect to complete certificate or degree requirements. Instructions for completing the application for graduation include the deadlines by which applications must be received by the Graduate College.

Participating in Commencement Does Not Guarantee That Students Will Receive a Diploma

Please be aware that participating in commencement does NOT guarantee that the student will complete degree requirements or receive a diploma. If students fail to submit applications for graduation by the deadline for each term, their graduation may be delayed.

Master's and Doctoral Degrees

The student is responsible for initiating the graduation process by submitting a graduation application to the department, at which time the application will be reviewed and forwarded to the Graduate College for approval. 

Graduate Certificate Requirements

Students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program will be eligible for the official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcripts when all applicable coursework has been successfully completed and approved by the academic unit and the Graduate College by the graduation application deadline set for each semester.

An academic unit will submit graduation applications for graduate certificates directly to the Graduate College on the student’s behalf by the graduation application deadline each semester.

Please note that students are ultimately responsible for ensuring official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcript when all applicable coursework for the graduate has been successfully completed.

Application forms and deadlines

The graduation application form for a master’s or doctoral degree must be:

  • completed and signed by the student,
  • reviewed and signed by the advisor, and department chair/director, and
  • submitted to the Graduate College for final approval with the following documents:
    • signed, updated program of study
    • unofficial transcript.

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines are December 1st for Spring and Summer and May 1st  for Fall and Winter. Complete application packets must be received by the Graduate College by these deadlines (or on the following working day if the date falls on a weekend).  Incomplete applications will not be processed.

If the application deadline is missed:

  • The student's name cannot appear in the commencement program;
  • The student's graduation date may be delayed.

Posting of Degrees

A degree is not official until it has been reviewed, approved, and posted. Posting refers to the secure process of entering a degree into the official student record-keeping system and connecting it to a student's transcript.

Before students can receive their diplomas or transcripts, students must clear any indebtedness to Northern Arizona University.  Students should check their NAU LOUIE accounts to ensure there are no student account “holds.”

Timeframe for posting

The degree will post to a student’s transcript after the end of the term in which all degree requirements have been met. Degrees will not be posted to transcripts until the Office of the Registrar confirms all grades for the semester. This usually occurs within two weeks after the end of term; however, it can take four to six weeks to post all degrees conferred during fall and spring terms.

Summer and Winter Term Posting of Degrees

Students who do not complete certificate or degree requirements in time for spring or fall commencement may request that the degree be posted at the end of the following term, summer or winter, respectively. For a summer term posting, students should apply by the prior December 1st and expect that degrees will be posted after the end of summer term.  For a winter term posting, students should apply by May 1st and expect that degrees will be posted after the end of winter term.

Participating in Commencement Ceremonies

Master’s and doctoral students who have completed all coursework for their degree, have successfully completed their thesis/dissertation defense, and have filed Part 1 of the “Final Oral Examination Defense Form” with the Graduate College, may participate in commencement ceremonies. A delay in submitting final copies of the thesis or dissertation after a successful defense will not prevent students from participating in commencement ceremonies.

Master’s and doctoral students that do not require a thesis or dissertation as part of their degree requirements, and have acquired permission from their department/program, may participate in commencement ceremonies one term prior to the term in which they will complete these requirements. Most often these situations include, but are not limited to, final projects, an internship, or other capstone requirements.

Students solely earning a Graduate Certificate will not be eligible to participate in commencement ceremonies.

Please be aware that participating in commencement does not indicate that degree requirements are complete or that a diploma will be issued.

 Note: Commencement is not the same as graduation.
  • Graduation refers to the verification by the Graduate College that degree requirements have been fulfilled through the graduation application approval process.
  • Commencement is a public ceremony to celebrate graduation. See the University Commencement Website for more details.

Rush requests for degree posting

A "rush" means that, if all degree requirements have been met, the degree will be posted on the first day possible. For an additional fee, students may request a rush by completing a Transcript Request form with the Office of the Registrar.

Related Policies