A-Z Index

Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

What's the difference between "graduation" and "commencement"?

Graduation is having earned eligibility to receive an academic degree or diploma. You must satisfy all of your degree requirements before you officially graduate and receive your diploma.

Commencement is the actual ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are conferred on graduating students. Commencement is not a certification of graduation, but rather a ceremony that celebrates your academic achievements.

Do I need to pay the degree completion fee, even if I am not participating in the ceremony?

Yes. Anyone graduating from the University is required to pay the degree completion fee.

The degree completion fee is a Northwest fee that assists with costs related to graduation and commencement. These costs include but are not limited to:

  • degree conferral on transcripts
  • degree audits and the final graduation audit
  • diploma printing and mailing costs
  • financial aid exit counseling communication and processing
  • correspondence with degree candidates related to graduation and commencement
  • overhead, labor and other expenses

What information appears on the student's diploma?

The legal student’s name, degree earned, major(s) and scholastic honors appear on the diploma. Minors do not appear on the diploma but are on the transcript. Students completing multiple majors within the same degree type receive one diploma.

When should I receive my diploma?

Graduates will be mailed their diploma within six to eight weeks after the final date of the semester. Diplomas are mailed to the permanent address provided on the application for degree that you submitted to the Office of the Registrar or the Graduate Office. Any change in address should be reported to the Office of the Registrar at

Commencement FAQs for students

I haven't received any information about the commencement ceremonies. Who do I need to talk to?

If you do not receive an informational email and believe you should, contact the Office of the Registrar at 660.562.1151 to check your status, or send an email to

What should I do if I have an unusual name to pronounce?

A reader's card is included with your cap and gown at pickup. The reader's card will have your name printed on it with an area to write phonetic spelling. If you think the reader will have difficulty pronouncing your name, complete the phonetic spelling area in clear print. Example: Bobby Bearcat (Ba-bee Bear-cat).

What if I have the wrong name or major on my reader's card?

A check-in table will be located near cap and gown pickup prior to the commencement ceremony. The check-in table is where you can make any changes to your name and degree information on your reader's card.

What time should I be there?

Graduates should arrive no less than 30 minutes before the ceremony if you need to pick up your cap and gown. The commencement coordinator begins to line up graduates in the Student Recreation Center 15 minutes before the time of the ceremony. 

Where do I go?

All participants should check in at the Student Recreation Center located in the Lamkin Activity Center.  

Where do the graduates sit?

Graduates will be seated on the floor and guests in the bleachers. 

The commencement coordinator will line you up in the Student Recreation Center before the ceremony begins. From there, you will be led down the hallway and into the arena. If you want to sit beside a friend, make sure they are lined up in front or behind you. 

Is there a dress code?

You may dress in business casual clothing.

Which side does my tassel go on?

Your tassel will begin on the right side of your cap. During the commencement ceremony, the president confers degrees and will direct you to move the tassel from the right to the left side of your cap.

How long will the ceremony last?

The commencement ceremony will be approximately 90 minutes. 

Is there a guest limit?

Graduates may reserve up to seven tickets for their guests.

Ticket Information

Why is Northwest requiring tickets? The number of graduates is higher than usual, so tickets are needed for an accurate count of attendees and the safety of our guests.

When can tickets be reserved? On Monday, April 8, graduates participating in commencement ceremonies will receive an email from with a link to log in and directions to reserve up to seven tickets. You will need to “check out” the tickets with your 919# and correct ceremony time. You will have until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, to reserve tickets.

What if I don’t know my 919#? You need to find your 919# as soon as possible. Start by contacting

Do tickets cost money? No. Tickets are free.

How many tickets will graduates receive? Graduates will have the option to reserve up to seven tickets for their guests.

Do children need tickets? Yes. Every person will need a ticket to enter Bearcat Arena.

Do graduates need tickets? Graduates participating in commencement ceremonies do not need a ticket.

Are tickets required for handicapped seating? Yes. Every person needs a ticket to enter Bearcat Arena.

What if I don’t need all seven tickets? Out of respect for other graduates and their loved ones, please only reserve the number of tickets you will use. If you need only four seats, reserve just four tickets. Unclaimed tickets will be released at a later date (read further for more details).

How can I share my tickets with guests? Once tickets are “checked out,” you can show the tickets from your phone, print them, and/or take a screenshot and send them to guests to be scanned. Each ticket can be scanned only once.

What is the deadline for reserving tickets? Graduates must reserve tickets by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 21. After the deadline passes, tickets that are not reserved will be released to graduates requesting additional tickets.

How can I get more tickets? Graduates will be emailed a form to request more tickets if needed. Northwest will contact individuals about their requests as tickets become available. Northwest is not guaranteeing that extra tickets will be available or that all requests for additional tickets will be filled.

How will tickets be verified at commencement ceremonies? Ticket scanners will be located at Bearcat Arena doors, similar to an athletic event. Every person needs a ticket to enter Bearcat Arena. Each ticket can be scanned one time.

Are tickets for designated seats? Northwest is not assigning seating. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis once tickets are scanned. Ticket scanners will be ready to serve guests when doors open, starting 90 minutes before each ceremony.

What if I still don’t get the number of tickets I want after extra tickets have been distributed? All commencement ceremonies are live-streamed at for people who cannot be present in Bearcat Arena.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have questions, contact us at 

Additional Questions?