• commencement 101 commencement 101

    Commencement 101

    Just what is Commencement and what do all these terms mean?

With roots dating back to the 12th century, Commencement is a traditional academic ceremony designed to celebrate the academic achievements of our graduates. UAlbany's modern-day ceremony maintains the essential features of its ancient predecessors while continuing to recognize and celebrate scholarly achievement. 

Commencement ceremonies at UAlbany are held at the end of the spring semester each year and are open to graduates from that semester as well as from the prior summer, fall and winter terms. Graduates are invited to participate in their university-wide degree conferral ceremony and, for undergraduates, their school or college recognition ceremony. 

Graduation is the academic process of completing your degree to receive your diploma (which graduates actually receive in the mail several weeks after graduation rather than at a Commencement ceremony).

Commencement refers to the ceremony, officiated by the University President, which students elect to participate in to celebrate the completion of their academic journey and to commence the next chapter in their lifelong learning. It is also a time for the University community, family and friends to pay tribute to our graduates for the extraordinary efforts they have shown in earning their degree.

Degree Conferral Ceremony is the University-wide ceremony at which the administration verbally confers the degree upon the graduates (pending final completion of their degree requirements). At the Master’s and Graduate Certificate Ceremony, and the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony, graduates will also be recognized individually as they cross the stage.

Recognition Ceremony is the undergraduate ceremony at which schools and colleges celebrate their graduates' achievements and each graduate is recognized individually as they cross the stage.

Mortarboard and regalia, otherwise known as cap and gown, are the proper terms for the distinctive academic attire worn to signify each degree. The gown should fall midway between the knee and ankle, and the cap should be worn flat on the head (parallel to the floor) with the front point of the cap centered on the forehead. All graduates are required to wear appropriate regalia for all of UAlbany’s Commencement ceremonies.

tassel typically adorns the mortarboard. It is designed to decorate the cap and can signify the specific area of study by its color. The tradition of moving the tassel from one side of the cap to the other symbolizes the students’ transition from degree candidate to graduate. Prior to the ceremony, an undergraduate's tassel is worn on the right; upon the conferral of degrees by the University President, it should be moved to the left side.



Still have questions? Contact the Commencement Office at [email protected]