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Home > Current Students > Graduation > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

When are the Summer, Fall and Spring graduation application deadlines?

The Fall graduation application deadline is always October 1. The Spring graduation application deadline is always March 1. The Summer graduation application deadline is always June 1. The application is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the myNOVA portal. The only issue that prevents students from applying for graduation is if they have not been program placed; a financial hold does not prevent a student from applying. If students experience problems, they need to screen shot or copy the error message and contact the Help Desk immediately. Applications submitted after the any deadline will be automatically dated by SIS as the next semester. The application deadlines are the same every year:

  • October 1 for Fall graduation
  • March 1 for Spring graduation
  • June 1 for Summer graduation

How do I apply for graduation?

As of fall 2008, potential graduates must submit an online application for graduation for the semester they will complete their program requirements. Applications are only valid for one semester. They must reapply if all requirements are not completed. As of March 2, 2011 the application for graduation is only accessible via myNOVA; go to Self-Service/Academic Records/Apply for Graduation.

What happens if I do not apply by the deadline?

At midnight, the application date automatically changes to the next semester. The application will be processed for the semester that is listed in SIS. The degree award will also reflect the semester the application was submitted.

Please remind students to read the information listed on the website, in the catalog and in the schedule bulletin.

What do I do if I need to withdraw/rescind my application for graduation?

Students have until the last day of the semester to submit a written request to rescind their application for graduation. The form is available online. The request needs to include the student’s name, ID# and the program plan. The signed request may be faxed to the CRO, emailed to or presented to the nearest Student Services Center for forwarding to the CRO no later than (NLT) the last day of the semester the graduation application was submitted.

What if I'm enrolled in ELI courses? What award date will be posted to my record?

Two important issues are considered; the semester the student applied for graduation and the semester the student enrolled in the final program requirement. If a student submitted a Fall 2014 graduation application and enrolled in a Fall 2014 ELI course that will complete requirements, the degree or certificate award will reflect the Fall 2014 semester.

What is the policy regarding deceased graduates?

Posthumous Degree Award Proposal

A recent change was made to section 5.1.7 of the VCCS Policy Manual that authorizes colleges to award posthumous degrees, with the criteria determined by individual institutions. The following guidelines were proposed for NOVA:

  • Posthumous degrees may be awarded to students who are in their last semester of study and/or within 15 credits of degree completion at the time of death.
  • The degree award must be approved by the Executive Vice President.
  • If possible, the student’s name will appear in the commencement program with an appropriate notation.
  • The student’s family will receive an invitation to the commencement ceremony from the president’s office; if they choose to attend, they will be provided with an escort.
  • At the appropriate point in the ceremony, the degree will be announced and the family will be asked to stand and be recognized.
  • Unless alternative arrangements are made by the student’s campus, the diploma will be mailed to the family with a letter of condolence from the President. The diploma will bear the notation; “Awarded Posthumously.”

A certificate of completion can be awarded to students who had fewer than 15 credits. Administrative Council members approved the policy and suggested that “UUU on request” be added to the guidelines.

When will I receive a status letter from the CRO?

Depending on the semester, the CRO receives between 1,500 – 4,500 applications. Students receive an immediate confirmation message listing the information that is extracted directly from the student’s permanent record. If the student discovers an error, a correction form is available on the website with instructions for completing and submitting the correction request form. The following status letters are emailed to students’ VCCS email accounts:

  1. All requirements completed
  2. Requirements completed pending successful completion of current enrollment
  3. Ineligible:
    • missing requirements
    • low GPA
    • did not satisfy residency requirement

All communication includes the time and location of commencement (GMU), the Annandale Graduation Fair will be held in the month of March, where to purchase regalia, class rings and invitations, the date the Graduation Information Brochure will be available online (after April 15), when degree awarding will begin, when the student can expect to have their degree/certificate to be awarded and when students can expect their diplomas/certificates to arrive.

When will degree/certificates be awarded?

Final grades must be posted before degree/certificates are awarded. Degree/certificate awarding will always begin the last day of class. Please note the award process is a line-by-line review of every potential graduate’s degree audit in SIS, this is a manual process and may take up to three months to complete.

Degree/certificates cannot be awarded prior to the last day of the semester.

How will I know when my degree/certificate has been awarded?

Students should check their degree audit periodically for the degree award just as they do for the posting of their final grades.

Notification of degree/certificate awarding is sent to students’ VCCS email accounts.

When can I expect to receive my diploma or certificate?

Diplomas and certificates are ordered after the award has been posted to the student’s records.

Diplomas or certificates should arrive within three months after the last day of the semester. Please note, diplomas and certificate are not produced by NOVA; they are ordered and produced by an out-of-state vendor. The normal processing time frame per order is ten to twelve weeks.

Diplomas will be mailed to the address listed in the NOVA Student Information System (SIS).

Requests for lost/destroyed diploma requests should be sent to, per the policy listed in the College catalog, names will only be changed in cases of gender reassignment, not due to marriage, divorce or other reasons.

International students’ diplomas will be mailed to their international addresses if one is provided.

Returned/undeliverable diplomas eventually are returned to the CRO via mail. A copy of the mailing envelop can be found in ImageNow linked to your ID#.

What if I did not apply by the deadline and I'm planning to transfer to a four-year institution or need verification for employment?

Students in this situation need to contact the transfer school to determine their course of action. The transfer school’s policy is normally listed on their website.

Verification Letters

Most schools like GMU do not want a letter; they want to see a degree award posted to the official transcript. However, if the school requests a letter, students need to submit form the College Records Office Request for Degree Verification form 125-340. Graduation verification status letters will only be mailed directly to the employer. The student must have submitted a current application for graduation, provide the name of the supervisor or department and the complete mailing address of the company; copies will not be provided to students or parents.

Who can participate in the Spring 2015 Commencement? Is my name on the list?

Summer graduates, Fall graduates and students who submit a Spring application for graduation by the March 1 deadline are eligible to participate; their names will be listed in the spring commencement book. Please note that Spring graduation honors will not appear in the commencement book since the book is produced prior to the end of the semester before degree awarding and posting of Latin honors occur.

What if my name is not listed in the commencement program?

Mistakes do happen, but students whose names are not listed in the commencement program still have the opportunity to participate in the ceremony.

ALL students in regalia are handed a white card on which to print their name.

The card is handed to the announcer who calls the name of the participant.

The participant walks across the stage and receives a diploma cover with an insert. The insert informs the student when they can expect to receive their diploma/certificate.

Missing name inquiries can be emailed to; once the information is verified, a supplemental insert will be prepared and a copy will be mailed to the student.

Why wasn’t my name listed in the commencement program?

The CRO will make every effort to include all of the Summer/Fall graduates and Spring applicants. The CRO truly regrets any omissions.

Why were’t the names of Spring applicants listed as Latin, Phi Theta Kappa or other Honors graduates?

The Latin honors list is populated every time a degree is awarded. Spring degree awarding begins well after the commencement book has been sent to the vendor for printing thus, the list only includes Summer and Fall graduates. Latin honors chords are available at the bookstores for eligible students. Students need to download an unofficial transcript to present as proof of eligibility. Phi Theta Kappa sponsors are responsible for providing their list of names to the Commencement Events Manager to be included in the commencement book. The CRO does not handle any matters regarding Phi Theta Kappa or any other honor designations.

Why haven’t I been awarded higher Latin Honors?

Per page 57 of the current College Catalog: “Graduation Honors – Students attending NOVA for a minimum of 30 credit hours in degree programs are eligible for graduation honors. Those attending NOVA for a minimum of 50 per cent of the credit hours in their certificate program are eligible for graduation honors. Student must apply online for graduation to be eligible for graduation honors. Graduation honors are determined by the student’s cumulative grade point average at the completion of the semester for which he/she is certified for graduation.”

If I complete my program requirements during the Summer term am I eligible to participate in the Spring Commencement?

No. Students who graduated the previous Summer, Fall or submitted Spring applications for graduation are eligible to participate in the Spring Commencement.

When and where will Commencement be held?

Commencement will be held in the month of May at the Patriot Center located on George Mason University's Fairfax campus located at 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444. The doors close once the ceremony begins, no graduates will be admitted after that time. Students and their guests are asked to conduct themselves appropriately for this most important occasion and to remain in their seats until the conclusion of the ceremony.

When will I receive my diploma cover?

Diploma covers are issued to all students who participate in commencement. Students who do not attend Commencement may pick up a diploma cover at any the Student Services Center.

Where and when do I purchase regalia?

The Annandale Campus bookstore holds a Graduation Fair in the month of March. However, regalia may be purchased at any NOVA campus bookstore. 

When will Commencement information be available?

The Graduation Information brochure is the same every year; the date of Commencement and name of the speaker are the only changes. The commencement information brochure will be available on the NOVA website (after April 15) students are instructed to bring the brochure to commencement.

How is Commencement Day traffic?

Traffic poses many challenges. Students should allow a minimum of two hours to travel to GMU, park and walk to the designated meeting locations outlined in the commencement brochure. The doors to the George Mason Patriot Center generally open one hour before commencement begins.