FAQs

Graduation and Commencement Frequently Asked Questions
Graduation Cy statue

     How do I graduate?

    In order to graduate, you need to submit an Application for Graduation through AccessPlus. To fill out an application, login to your AccessPlus account and go to your student tab.  On the left side menu click “graduation” and then choose “application”. 

    Bachelor and DVM degrees:

    A review of your degree audit will be completed by a graduation evaluator.  You will receive an email once this has been completed. 

    Master and PhD degrees:

    Contact the Graduate College with questions concerning deadlines and approvals. https://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/calendar/

    How do I get information about the university ceremony and graduation convocations?

    Instructions and information for the university undergraduate and graduate ceremonies are posted on the Ceremony Information page approximately four weeks prior to graduation. You may also contact the Graduation Office, 210 Enrollment Services Center, phone (515) 294-1840; or email graduation@iastate.edu.

    For information on college convocations, see the College Convocations and Receptions page.

     

    How do I sign up to attend the university ceremony or college convocation?

    Approximately 6 weeks after the start of the semester, the “diploma/ceremony” option under “graduation” on AccessPlus will become available.  At this time, you will be able to sign up for the ceremony, the college convocation, as well as the diploma delivery option.

    **students who graduate in the summer have the option to attend the spring or the fall ceremony.  Make sure that you apply for summer, since that is when you will complete all degree requirements.  If you choose to walk in the spring, the “diploma/ceremony option will be available mid-February, and if you choose to walk in the fall ceremony, that option will be available mid-June.

     

    Are graduating and walking in the ceremony the same thing?

    NO!  To officially graduate from Iowa State you need to have completed all degree requirements and been given the “ok” from your graduation evaluator.  A review of your degree audit is done by a graduation evaluator when you complete the Application for Graduation.

    Walking in the graduation ceremony is way to share your achievement with family and friends and is a celebration.  Walking across the stage does NOT mean you have graduated!!  Degree requirements need to be completed before you receive your degree.

    Undergraduate students and masters students are welcome to walk in the ceremony before their official degree conferral term.

    PhD students may not walk in the ceremony before their official degree conferral term (unless you are a summer graduate).

    Please contact the Graduation Office, 210 Enrollment Services Center; or phone (515) 294-1840; or email graduation@iastate.edu for assistance.

     

    Are tickets required for the university commencement ceremonies?

    No. Tickets are not required for the university commencement ceremony.

    How do I get a cap and gown for the ceremony?

    Caps and gowns may be obtained from the University Book Store in the Memorial Union.  Phone: (515) 294-5684; website: https://www.isubookstore.com/Home

     

    What do I need to do before graduation?

    Undergraduate Students:

    1) You must complete and submit an application for graduation through AccessPlus (student tab/graduation/application). Degree requirements will be reviewed by the Graduation Office and your graduation status will be posted in AccessPlus under student tab, graduation, Graduation Status by midterm. The student and adviser will be notified of the student’s graduation status by midterm.

    2) Complete Financial Aid or Loans Receivable Exit Interview: If you have borrowed from the Stafford/Direct loan program, you must complete an exit counseling session. For more information, visit: http://www.financialaid.iastate.edu/. You will need to have your Department of Education PIN (not your ISU Card PIN) to access this site. If you no longer have this PIN number, you can request a duplicate on-line. If you do not have computer access, you can stop in the Office of Student Financial Aid at 0210 Beardshear to complete an exit interview packet. If you have questions, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, 0210 Beardshear, or phone (515) 294-2223.

    If you have borrowed from the Disadvantaged Student Loan, Federal Perkins Loan, Health Profession Student Loan, Perkins Loan, or University Long Term Loan programs, you will be required to complete an exit counseling session. Detailed information will be sent to you the term of your graduation. If you have any questions please contact the Loans Receivable Office, 0880 Beardshear, or phone (515) 294-7388.

    Your transcript will not be released if you do not complete exit interview requirements for Financial Aid and/or Loans Receivable.

    Graduate Students:

    1) Apply for graduation through Access Plus. Also see the Graduate College website for graduation requirements and deadlines.

    2) Complete Financial Aid or Loans Receivable Exit Interview: If you have borrowed from the Stafford/Direct loan program, you must complete an exit counseling session on-line: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/exitCounseling.action?execution=e1s1. You will need to have your Department of Education PIN (not your ISU Card PIN) to access this site. If you no longer have this PIN number, you can request a duplicate on-line. If you do not have computer access, you can stop in the Office of Student Financial Aid at 0210 Beardshear to complete an exit interview packet. If you have questions, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, 0210 Beardshear, or phone (515) 294-2223.

    If you have borrowed from the Disadvantaged Student Loan, Federal Perkins Loan, Health Profession Student Loan, Perkins Loan, or University Long Term Loan programs, you will be required to complete an exit counseling session. Detailed information will be sent to you the term of your graduation. If you have any questions please contact the Loans Receivable Office, 0880 Beardshear, or phone (515) 294-7388.

    Your transcript will not be released if you do not complete exit interview requirements for Financial Aid and/or Loans Receivable.

     

    What if I need special assistance at the ceremony?

    Graduating students with special needs: Any student planning to participate in the commencement ceremony who will need special assistance (wheelchair access, etc.) should contact the Registrar's Office at (515) 294-1840 prior to the ceremony.

    Guests with special needs: Special seating accommodations for guests is available on a first come, first serve basis from the main concourse level of Hilton Coliseum. If assistance is needed the day of the ceremony, please speak with an usher. Please note that the handicapped entrance is located on the west side of Hilton Coliseum.

     

    How early should my family and I arrive for the ceremony?

    The doors to Hilton Coliseum will open to everyone two hours before the ceremony is scheduled to start.

     

    How long will the graduation ceremony last?

    The fall undergraduate ceremony (Bachelor’s degree) will last approximately 2 hours, while the fall graduate ceremony (Masters and PhDs) will last approximately 1.5 hours.  The spring graduate (Masters and PhDs) and both undergraduate (Bachelor’s degree) ceremonies will last approximately 2 hours.

     

    How do I find out about local lodging and dining for my guests?

    Visit the Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

     

    When will diplomas be mailed?

    Diplomas will be mailed approximately 4 weeks after the end of term to the address you indicated on Access+.  It can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks for diplomas to be received domestically and 4-6 weeks for diplomas to be received overseas. 

     

    What if I want my diploma mailed overseas?

    You will be able to do this when you go to the “diploma/ceremony” option under “graduation” on Access+.  At the bottom, where it asks if you would like your diploma mailed overseas, there is a link to a survey that will ask you for the overseas mailing address.  Once you have completed this survey, don’t forget to click submit at the bottom of the main page.  This is how all of that information will be saved. 

     

    Can I pick up my diploma instead of having it mailed to me?

    Yes, you can pick up your diploma in 214 Enrollment Services Center on the date listed in Access+.  Diplomas will be ready for pick up approximately 4 weeks after the conferral date.

     

    What if I need to change my graduation date to a later semester?

    1) Login to AccessPlus (student tab/graduation/application).

    2) Open application for term submitted.

    3) Select "withdraw application."

    4) Submit application for term you plan to complete requirements in.

     

    What are the requirements for "Graduating with Distinction?"

    Undergraduates who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 or higher at the beginning of their final term are eligible to graduate “with distinction” provided they have completed 60 semester credits of coursework at Iowa State University at the time they graduate, including a minimum of 50 graded credits.

    Students who graduate with a cumulative grade point average of 3.90 or higher will graduate Summa Cum Laude; those who graduate with a cumulative grade point average of 3.70 to 3.89 will graduate Magna Cum Laude; and those who graduate with a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 to 3.69 will graduate Cum Laude. This recognition appears on the student’s official transcript and diploma and in the commencement program.

    **Masters and PhD students are not awarded distinction cords.

     

    Will my minor appear on my diploma?

    Minors appear only on the Iowa State University transcript. Only your major will show on your diploma.

     

    I have an accounts receivable hold.  Do I have to pay that before I get my diploma?

    No, you will receive your diploma even if you have an accounts receivable hold.  However, if you want to order a transcript, the accounts receivable hold will not allow you to do so.  Once you have worked with accounts receivable to set up a payment plan, the hold will be released.