Registrar's Office

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between graduation and commencement?

Graduation is when all degree requirements have been satisfied and a student’s degree is conferred.  There are three graduations annually (during the summer, fall, and spring). However, commencement is the actual ceremony to celebrate and recognize all of the graduates from the summer, fall, and spring semesters. Commencement takes place once a year during the spring semester in May.

What are the requirements for graduation? 

To be eligible to graduate, a student must satisfy all degree requirements for their major and/or minor during the summer, fall, or spring semester. 

What are the requirements to participate in May Commencement?

To be eligible to participate in commencement, a student must:  (1) satisfy all degree requirements for their major and/or minor during the summer, fall, or spring semester, and (2) not have any pending charges, active suspensions, or dismissals by the Student Honor Court.  Also, all students who received student loans must complete the financial aid exit counseling process.  Additionally, all undergraduate students must complete the Graduating Senior Survey prior to commencement rehearsal. Students will not receive official transcripts or a paper degree until all financial obligations have been satisfied.

Completing the Graduating Senior Survey, helps the university better understand the experience of students at WSSU.  Undergraduate students will not receive their diplomas until the Graduating Senior Survey is completed.  The graduating seniors on all 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina system are required to participate in this survey.  Please contact Institutional Assessment and Research at 336-750-8036 if you have any questions.

Do I need to fill out a graduation application in order to graduate?

Yes, all undergraduate students are required to submit an online graduation application for the semester in which they will satisfy all degree requirements.  All graduate students are required to submit a paper graduation application.

Can I still attend commencement with an account balance?

All account balances should be satisfied prior to commencement rehearsal, including the $50 graduation application fee.  All account balances should be paid in full by Friday, May 12th, 2017.  Student Accounts is located in 200 Thompson Center.  Students also need to check with Campus Police and the Library to clear any outstanding fines or debts. You will not receive your diploma or official transcripts from the Office of the Registrar until your full balance is paid.

Why do I have to speak with someone in the Financial Aid Office?

It is mandatory for graduating seniors who have received a student loan to complete the exit counseling questionnaire online.  The entire loan counseling session will probably take about an hour.  For further information, please contact the Financial Aid Office at 336-750-3296.  The website is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If you have questions regarding repayment or loan forbearance, please contact the Department of Education at 1-800-433-3243.

Who do I contact if I have Federal Perkins and/or University Loans?

Exit interviews for seniors who received funds from the Federal Perkins and University Loans need to be completed online at  For further information, contact the Student Accounts Office, 200 Thompson Center or call Mrs. Carrie Barnes at 336-750-2812 to schedule an appointment.

Do I have to register with Alumni Relations? How do I register with Alumni Relations?

Yes, beginning April 13th all graduates must register online with the Winston-Salem State University Alumni Relations Office.  

· Click on the Alumni & Friends tab at the top of the homepage
· Click on Alumni Relations immediately under the photo
· Click on Graduation Clearance Form in the “Quick Links” box (located on the right)
· Follow the instructions

For further information, contact Ms. Catherine Snipes at 336-750-3491 or at

If I will not satisfy all degree requirements until summer 2017, may I still participate in the May 2017 commencement exercise with my class?

Meet with your academic advisor to verify that all graduation requirements have been met. Only students who have been certified for graduation by the Office of the Registrar may participate in the May 2017 commencement.  Students who have been certified for graduation are those students who have applied for graduation (summer 2016, fall 2016, or spring 2017), have satisfied all degree requirements. 

What if I applied to graduate but it has been determined that I do not meet the necessary requirements?

You will need to submit another graduation application for the semester in which you will satisfy all degree requirements. 

How will my name appear in the commencement program?

Your name will be listed in the commencement program the way you entered it on your graduation application. If you have changed your name please contact the office of the Registrar at

When and how will I receive my diploma?

Diplomas can be picked up following the commencement ceremony.  Any diplomas that are not picked up after the commencement ceremony will be sent certified mail to the address provided on the graduation application. 

How do I change the address where I want my diploma mailed?

Please send an email with your Banner ID, your complete name, and complete mailing address to  The "Subject" line should read "Change of Address for Diploma".  

Where can I purchase my regalia (cap and gown), class ring, and announcements?

Caps and gowns (regalia), class rings, and announcements may be purchased online at Herff Jones. You can have your order shipped to the bookstore or to your home. Shipments to your home carry a shipping charge of $15.00.  

How are Honors determined?  How will I know if I will graduate with honors?  Will I receive an Honor Cord?

Honors are calculated using your final cumulative GPA. If it is determined that you will graduate with honors, you will be notified via email.  Honor cords will be distributed on May 15th, 16th and May 18th. Please visit the calendar of events for specific times and locations.

Is there rehearsal for Commencement?

Yes, a mandatory commencement rehearsal will be held at Bowman Gray Stadium on Thursday, May 12, 2016.  Attendance is mandatory for all graduates participating in the ceremony. It will be held at Bowman Gray Stadium and candidates should arrive at their designated rehearsal time. Contact if you have any questions.

Do I need tickets?

Tickets are not required for May 2017 commencement.  However, registration is required if you are planning to participate in the May 2017 commencement ceremony.  It is important that you RSVP.  We must receive your RSVP in order to plan for the ceremony.  Your RSVP will be compared against a list of cleared graduates to ensure that (1) you have applied for graduation and (2) satisfied all degree requirements. 

How do I RSVP?

To RSVP please click  use the Graduate RSVP Form.

Is Bowman Gray Stadium wheelchair accessible?

Yes, Bowman Gray Stadium is wheelchair accessible.

What should I wear to the graduation ceremony?

There is no mandatory dress code.  Traditionally, dress shirts, slacks, skirts, or dresses are worn under the regalia.  Also note that since graduates and faculty will be seated on the grass field, please do not wear high-heel shoes – flats, wedges, or ½ inch heels are acceptable.

What if it rains on the day of Commencement?

Inclement weather is always a possibility so arrangements have been made to move the commencement ceremony to Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum if necessary. If that should happen, a broadcast email will be sent to all students, faculty and staff; a recorded message will be placed on the university weather line (336-750-3456); and information will be posted on the WSSU website, Facebook page and Twitter.


Winston-Salem State University

601 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

Winston-Salem, NC 27110

Phone: (336) 750-2000

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