Graduation Overview

Graduation vs. Commencement

Graduation is actually completing your degree or certificate. Commencement is the ceremony to celebrate your graduation. To officially complete your program you MUST apply to graduate! Participating in commencement is optional. Please also note that certificate-only students are not eligible to participate in commencement. 

Planning to Graduate Soon?

You must apply to graduate even if you don't plan to attend the commencement ceremony. Submit your application early in the semester in which you plan to graduate. Review the Essential Deadlines for Graduating Students and apply online. You are eligible to apply for graduation if you have completed or will complete ALL of your program's graduation requirements, including internship, comprehensive exam, product of learning, and thesis/dissertation, by the end of the term.

You are responsible for monitoring your Degree Works record to make sure you have met all of the requirements for your graduate program. Your advisor's role is to assist you. If you see unexpected shortages in your record, you should talk to your program director.

Important Note for August Grads

This is the term in which you will graduate, not the term in which you will participate in the commencement ceremony (there is no commencement in August; students may choose to walk in May or December). If the last semester in which you will take classes and finish all your requirements is Summer Session I or II, then you should list August as your graduation term. Failure to apply for August graduation, even if you participate in the May commencement ceremony, means that your graduation will be delayed until December; see also below the "Enrollment Requirement" information.

How Do I Apply?

Apply online. 

How Will I Know if I Have Shortages? The Graduation Audit

When you apply for graduation, the Graduate Records staff will perform a graduation "preaudit." This process checks what is left to complete on your official, approved program of study. You will receive an email at your account that explains what remains to be completed if there are shortages. More information about the graduation audit. Once grades are posted for the semester, the Graduate Records staff will complete a final audit to verify program completion. 

Enrollment Requirement

The University of North Carolina requires that graduate degree-seeking students be enrolled for at least one credit hour during the semester in which they graduate. If you are not enrolled during the semester in which you plan to graduate, the University will automatically enroll you for one hour of graduate research credit (GRD 5989/7989) at the current distance education tuition rate for one semester hour (off-campus per-credit charge to save you on fees; the tuition differential for selected programs applies. Non-residents will be charged at the out-of-state tuition rate).

Graduation Contact Information

Application to Graduate/Graduation Readiness (Academic Audit):

Charity Chicoine
Telephone: 828-262-6438

Commencement Information:

Ross Gosky
Telephone: 828-262-2690

General Graduation and Commencement Information

The University Registrar's commencement website lists the official information on commencement times and locations; how to order regalia; travel tips including area accommodations and parking; and seating information. You do not have to attend the commencement ceremony to graduate, but we hope you will participate.

Delaying Graduation

If you determine that you will not finish all requirements in the term for which you applied, you will need to notify the Graduate Records staff to move your graduation application. You can do this by emailing from your email. Note that your graduation application processing fee cannot be refunded or transferred to a later term.

Unpaid Balance

North Carolina does not allow Appalachian to release transcripts if you have an unpaid account with the University. If you are uncertain about whether you owe money, you should contact the Student Accounts Office (828-262-2113), the Library (828-262-2818), and/or the Bookstore (828-262-3070) for inquiries.


Should you need to change the address for your diploma mailing, please contact the Graduate Records staff in the Graduate School ( Note: Changing your diploma address does not change any addresses in the Banner student system. Be sure to update your Banner address after graduation through your AppalNet account.

Orders for graduate student diplomas are placed four times per year: June, September, January, and March. Per state law, a student's account must be clear of all charges before a diploma or transcript may be released.

Diploma Orders           Recipients   Last day to clear your student account before order is placed        
JuneFor May graduatesJune 15
SeptemberFor August graduatesSeptember 15
JanuaryFor December graduatesJanuary 10
MarchFor any student with a clear accountMarch 15

Please note: If you have not cleared your account by the time of the scheduled order for your diploma, you will have until the next order is placed (see schedule) to clear your account by the date specified and have your diploma ordered. It takes approximately 3-4 weeks from the time the order is placed for the diplomas to be mailed to the student. Diplomas are mailed to the address provided by the student on the graduation application form.

Graduation with Honors

Eligible honorees for the Cratis D. Williams Society of Outstanding Graduate Students are those graduate students who have maintained a 4.0 GPA, been nominated by their program, and selected by the review panel as representing the top 2% of graduate students. There are no Latin honors (e.g., cum laude) at the graduate level.