2016 Commencement Keynote

Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy at The White House


Before you can walk across the stage in your cap and gown there are several final steps to complete, including applying to graduate. The graduate process starts several months before graduation -- this page outlines the procedures you should follow.

You will be a graduate only after you have completed all degree requirements (see your advisor) and have no financial obligations to the university. The degree designation (BS, MS, MPH, MHSA, DrPH or PhD) may be used after your name only when you have completed all of your degree requirements. While degrees are awarded at the end of each semester, formal commencement ceremonies occur only in May.

Application for Graduation

You must complete the Registrar Office's online application for graduation by the appropriate deadline. View step-by-step instructions on how to complete the online application.


  • February 1 If you will be completing degree requirements in the spring semester. 
  • March 15 If you will completing degree requirements in the summer sessions but want to participate in the May commencement ceremonies. 
  • July 1 If you will be completing degree requirements in the summer sessions.
  • October 1 If you will be completing degree requirements in the fall semester.

Please note that applications submitted after the deadline will incur a $35 late fee. This fee is non-negotiable.

The online graduation application has several purposes, including:

  • Notifying the Office of Student Records to begin your degree certification process. Student Records staff will review your academic record and verify that it is possible for you to complete the degree requirements by the end of the semester.
  • Informing us of your plans to attend the annual spring commencement ceremony held in May. If you are not sure whether you will attend, we recommend you check the "yes" box, because your plans may change. Only those who check the "yes" box will receive details about participating in the ceremony.
  • Ensuring that your name will be correct in the commencement program and on your diploma.

Please note that if you are unable to complete all degree requirements by the end of the semester, your application will be withdrawn and you must re-apply before the deadline for the appropriate semester using the online application for graduation. Late applications will incur a $35 late fee. 

May Commencement Ceremonies

The annual commencement ceremonies take place in May to commemorate the graduation of students from the university and Milken Institute School of Public Health. Please note that participation in commencement does not confirm that you have been cleared for graduation!

Graduates are invited to attend two ceremonies:

  • The Milken Institute School of Public Health commencement ceremony ("SPH Celebration") will be held on Thursday, May 12, 2016. The SPH Celebration is an indoor ceremony at the Charles E. Smith Center. This ceremony consists of speeches from the Milken Institute SPH Dean, a guest speaker, a student speaker and  faculty award presentations. Each graduate is called to the stage to receive a scroll (the actual diploma is mailed later). A professional photographer will be  present to capture individual and group photographs.

Please Note: Students should arrive at 7:00 am to Funger Hall (2201 G St., NW) for class pictures and special instructions regarding the ceremony and the line-up for procession. Guests should arrive between 8:30 and 8:55 am. Faculty should arrive to Funger Hall by 8:00 am. The Charles E. Smith Center's doors will close at 8:55 am for the procession to enter the center. Doors will reopen once the procession has entered.

  • The university commencement ceremony will be held on Sunday May 15, 2016 on the National Mall (between 7th and 14th Streets, NW) rain or shine. This large ceremony consists of a processional, awards and prizes to faculty, conferral of honorary degrees, speakers (student speaker and major public figures), and the official conferral of degrees by the university president. Students' names are not called at this ceremony, nor do they walk across the stage.

Please Note: Students and guests should arrive promptly at 9 am. The students should directly proceed to join the SPH group and line up behind the school's banner. Location of the SPH banner can be found on the GW Commencement map on the GW Commencement website. The university procession begins at 9:30 am. The ceremony begins at 10 am.

Eligibility to Participate in Commencement Ceremonies

If you have applied to graduate in the current spring semester, or if you graduated in the past fall or summer semesters, you are eligible to participate in the May commencement ceremonies.

In addition, according to the university's "Walk-Through Policy," you may participate in the spring commencement ceremonies if you are an undergraduate or master's-level student with:

  • a reasonable expectation of completing your degree requirements during the upcoming summer ; and
  • you need no more than nine credit hours during the summer semester to graduate

The maximum of nine credits is a firm policy and not subject to petition or appeal. Doctoral candidates who have not successfully defended their dissertation by April 1, may not participate in either the May commencement or hooding ceremony.

Tickets and Invitation Packets
Please request tickets for the Milken Institute SPH ceremony online. Each student is given seven tickets. Students may request additional tickets using the Ticket Request form.

Ticket Packets
Ticket packets will be available for pick up at 950 New Hampshire Avenue, Second Floor from April 11 - April 15 during normal business hours (9:00 am - 5:00 pm Monday through Friday). Online MPH@GW students will pick up tickets at 950 New Hampshire Ave NW, 2nd Floor on Wednesday, May 11 9:00 am - 6:00 pm. In order for you to pick up your ticket packet, you will need to show evidence that you have completed the GW Graduation Student Survey. Take the Graduation Student Survey (we will notify you when the link is open). Once you complete the survey, print a copy of the confirmation page and bring it with you when picking up your tickets. Please note that the survey will take a few minutes to complete.

Your ticket packet will contain tickets for BOTH the Milken Institute School of Public health ceremony and the university ceremony. It will also contain a Guide to Commencement on the Mall that provides details about the ceremony and information about obtaining your cap and gown.

Please plan on picking up your ticket packet at Milken Institute School of Public Health, 950 New Hampshire Ave, Second  Floor.

For students who are out of town and have no way to come and pick up their tickets and commencement packets in April, there are two options:

  1. You can pick up your tickets and packets during the MPH@GW ticket pick-up on Wednesday, May 11th. If you do this, please email ASAP with instructions to place your tickets in an envelope for May 11th.
  2. Have someone who is in the DC area come in and pick up the tickets during the ticket pickup period. Please email Student Affairs ( with the full name of the individual who will pick up the tickets, and a statement indicating that the student is authorizing this person to pick up their tickets on their behalf. This person must also have your grad survey confirmation. You can text or email them a copy of your confirmation.

Regalia (Cap and Gown)
Caps and gowns worn by students at commencement are available at the GW Bookstore in the lower level of the Marvin Center in March. Please plan on attending the Commencement Fair at Colonial Central and the GW Bookstore. You will be able to purchase a cap and gown, announcements and rings. The Commencement Fair is typically held at the end of March. 

Regalia will not be available at the Smith Center or on the Mall.

Printed Commencement Program – University and School Ceremonies

Your name will only appear in the Milken Institute SPH commencement program if you have submitted your Application for Graduation by the deadline and have met the above-stated eligibility criteria. Your name will be listed alphabetically according to the semester your degree requirements were completed.

Diploma  and Transcripts

Your diploma will be mailed to you about three months after your official date of graduation. If you are moving, please make sure that the Office of the Registrar has your new address by updating through GWeb or by completing a Change of Address Form available on the registrar's website.

Your official transcript reflects the awarding of your degree and the date of your graduation and, therefore, can be issued to you only after your official graduation date. There are currently two ways to obtain a transcript.

  • You may request a copy of your official transcript by submitting a Transcript Request Form along with appropriate payment to Colonial Central on the Ground Floor of the Marvin Center at 800 21st Street NW.
  • For more options to request a transcript, please click here.

PLEASE NOTE: Official transcripts will NOT be issued if you have not met your financial obligations to the university. It is the policy of the university not to issue partial transcripts.

If you are a currently enrolled student, you may also review your unofficial transcript online via GWeb.

If you need verification of your graduation before your final transcript and diploma are available, you can request it using the Request for Certification Services Form or by logging into GWeb, accessing the National Student Clearninghouse section and selecting "Obtain an Enrollment Verification".

Who To Contact For Assistance

If you have questions regarding the commencement ceremonies, please contact: Robin Delk (202) 994-7769 or