A-Z Index

Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ's

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 fee from Northwest that assists with everything 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/man hours/and other expenses 
  • etc.

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 earning two majors of the same degree type receive one diploma.

When should I receive my diploma?

Graduates will be mailed their diploma within 6-8 weeks after the final date of the semester. Diplomas will be mailed to the permanent address provided on the application for degree that you submitted to the Registrar’s Office or Graduate Office. Any change in address should be reported to the Registrar’s Office at 

Commencement FAQ's by 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 feel you should have, please contact the Registrar's Office at 660.562.1151 to check your status or email

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

There will be a readers card included with your cap and gown at pickup. The readers card will have your name printed on it, with an area to write phonetic spelling. If you think the reader will have a difficult time pronouncing your name, please 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 readers card?

A check in table will be located near cap and gown pick up. The check in table is where you can make any changes to your name and degree information on your readers card.

What time should I be there?

Graduates should arrive no less than 30 minutes before the ceremony if you still need to pick up your cap/gown. We will start lining up the graduates in the Student Recreation Center 15 minutes before the ceremony begins. 

Where do I go?

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

Where do the graduates sit?

Graduates will be seated on the football field. 

The commencement coordinator will line you up in the Student Recreation Center before the ceremony begins. They will then lead you onto the football field where you will sit. If you would like to sit beside a friend, make sure they are lined up in front or behind you. 

Is there a dress code?

Business casual

Which side does my tassel go on?

Your tassel will begin on the right side of your cap. Once the president confers your degree, you will then move the tassel from the right to the left side of your cap.

How long will the ceremony last?

Graduation ceremony will last approximately 2 hours. 

Is there a guest limit?

There is no limit to how many guests you may bring.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have questions, please contact us at 

Additional Questions?