Graduation is the academic process of completing your degree to receive your diploma, which you 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 you elect to participate in to celebrate the completion of your academic journey and to commence the next chapter in your lifelong learning. It is also a time for the University community, your family and friends to pay tribute to you for the extraordinary efforts you have shown in earning your degree.

A Degree Conferral Ceremony is the university-wide ceremony at which the administration verbally confers your degree upon you (pending final completion of your 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.

A Recognition Ceremony is the undergraduate ceremony at which your school or college celebrates your achievements and your are recognized individually as you cross the stage.

Mortarboard and regalia, otherwise known as cap and gown, are the proper terms for your distinctive academic attire worn to signify your 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 UAlbany’s Commencement ceremonies.

A 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 candidate to graduate. Prior to the ceremony, an undergraduates’ tassel is worn on the right; upon the conferral of degrees by the University President, it should be moved to the left side.