Commencement FAQ


The Commencement Ceremony

When is commencement?

Class of 2020, please note: Based on federal and state guidance, we have made the determination that it will be necessary to postpone Commencement activities to a time in which we can safely convene as a community. We are committed to holding Commencement ceremonies and will ensure that our students and families have as much time to prepare as possible. In the time ahead, we will develop our plans and communicate updates as our planning for these rescheduled ceremonies advances.


Degrees, Diplomas, and Honors

Why is my degree an A.B. instead of a B.A.?

A.B. stands for Artium Baccalaureatum, the Latin translation of Bachelor of Arts. Your diploma will be issued in Latin. You will receive a translation of the diploma at the ceremony.

How are graduation honors determined?

Honors are conferred based on the student’s cumulative grade-point average (GPA), and the minimum marks are determined according to percentiles of the previous year’s graduating class (see #11 here (new window) for a full explanation). For the Georgetown College Class of 2020 (including August 2019 and December 2019 grads), honors will be awarded as follows: summa cum laude, 3.932 and above; magna cum laude, 3.848 to 3.931; cum laude, 3.785 to 3.847. GPAs are calculated to three decimal places and are not rounded up. Students completing their degree requirements in May will have their tentative graduation honors, based on GPA at press time, listed in the commencement program. Final honors, determined after all spring grades have been included, are posted on diplomas and final transcripts.

Does the College give Latin honors cords for Commencement?

The College distributes cords to students graduating summa cum laude at the Tropaia ceremony.  Students graduating magna cum laude and cum laude will have their honors listed in the Tropaia and Commencement programs, but will not receive cords.

I’m a double major. Will I receive two degrees? Two diplomas?

No. A double major earns only one degree. Students double majoring in fields that lead to different degrees (e.g., Biology and English) receive the degree associated with their first major.

Are majors, minors, certificates, and honors indicated on the diploma?

Your diploma will include only your name, date of graduation, degree earned, and graduation honors (e.g., summa cum laude) as appropriate. Majors, minors, certificates, and departmental honors are not marked on the diploma but do appear on your official transcript.

What is the size of the diploma? Where can I buy a frame for it? How should I display it?

The Georgetown diploma measures 17 in. (43 cm.) wide by 14 in. (35.5 cm.) high. Diploma frames are available at the Georgetown University Bookstore.

At the ceremony, you will receive a rolled translation of the degree with a blue and gray ribbon. Make a point of holding on to the ribbon if you wish to display the ribbon as an element in framing the diploma. The ribbon may be unstitched, pressed, and then arranged diagonally across a corner of the diploma, or the ribbon may be left as is and displayed in the lower left hand corner. 

What happens if I owe the university money? Can I still graduate?

Though the degree is conferred, university policy dictates that any student with an unpaid balance will not be issued a diploma or transcript until the account is settled. For seniors, there will be special billings in March and April. Please check the status of your account in early May to make certain that your account is clear. All outstanding balances (library fines, room damage charges, parking tickets) must be paid before Commencement. The Office of Student Accounts will not be open during Commencement Weekend, so accounts must be cleared in advance.

What is Tropaia?

Tropaia (the name is from the Ancient Greek, from which we derive the English word trophy) is the College’s annual awards ceremony, held on the Friday of Commencement Weekend in Gaston Hall. Highlights include departmental awards, several College-wide awards for outstanding seniors, the Bunn Award for Faculty Excellence and Bunn address, and the Cohonguroton, or valedictory, address(es). See the undergraduate bulletin for a full list of awards. Students being honored will receive invitations in the spring, but all students and families are welcome to attend and celebrate their friends and classmates. A reception for all College graduates and their guests follows in the ICC Galleria. 

What is Phi Beta Kappa? Do I need to apply?

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and largest academic honors society. Generally, the top 10 percent of the Georgetown College graduating class is invited to join. Interested students need not apply, as all eligible candidates are invited in early-April. The PBK initiation ceremony is held on the Thursday evening preceding Commencement Weekend, and all are welcome to attend. 

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August Graduation

When do I walk? Can I participate in the May commencement ceremony?

The College only holds one ceremony each year, in May. August graduates may participate in either the May ceremony immediately preceding their date of graduation or the May ceremony immediately following the completion of the degree. Students who can demonstrate a plan to complete their remaining requirements (up to 12 credits) by August are eligible to participate in the May commencement ceremony preceding their graduation date. August candidates participating in the May commencement ceremony preceding their graduation date cross the stage and have their names read as usual, integrated with the May graduates, but their names are not printed in the Commencement book.

Do I need to do anything special to attend the May commencement? 

To participate in the ceremony that precedes your date of graduation, you should speak to your dean and confirm that your degree progress permits your participation. August graduates will automatically be on mailing lists for both the May ceremony that precedes and the May ceremony that follows their degree completion.

Will my name be listed in the commencement program?

No, if you are participating in the ceremony that precedes the date of your formal graduation. The program lists the names of students who have completed all degree requirements. The program printed for the following year’s May ceremony will include full name, high school, and academic honors as appropriate for all August graduates. 

When will I receive my diploma?

Diplomas for August graduates are ordered in early September. Please contact the dean’s office (202-687-4043; collegedeans@georgetown.edu) no later than September 30th if you wish to pick up your diploma in person. We expect delivery of diplomas from the vendor by this date, but please confirm before coming to the office. Diplomas that have not been designated for pick-up will be mailed (by registered mail) to the student’s permanent address, as reported on the Application for the Degree. If you have special instructions about where to mail your diploma, please contact the Dean’s Office.

What about Senior Week?

Senior Week is managed by the Senior Class Committee, which can provide more details. August graduates may participate in the Senior Week that precedes or follows their graduation date, but may only participate once.

How do I assure an employer or graduate school that I have graduated? 

We conduct the formal review of the August degree candidates in September each year, and notify the registrar to post the degree on your transcript. If you need a certification letter indicating the conferral of the degree, please contact the dean’s office.

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December Graduation

Is there a ceremony in December?

No, but there is a reception for December graduates and their families; this year’s reception will take place on Friday, December 13, 2019 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Invitations will be mailed to degree candidates and their families in October. For more information, contact the dean’s office at 202-687-4043; collegedeans@georgetown.edu.

Do I need to do anything special to attend the May commencement? 

No. We will expect your participation in Commencement the following May unless you inform us that you will not attend.

When do I get my diploma?

Diplomas for December graduates are ordered by January 15. Please contact the dean’s office (202-687-4043; collegedeans@georgetown.edu) no later than January 30 if you wish to pick up your diploma in person. We expect delivery of diplomas from the vendor by this date, but please confirm before coming to the office. Diplomas that have not been designated for pick-up will be mailed (by registered mail) to the student’s permanent address, as reported on the Application for the Degree. If you have special instructions about where to mail your diploma, please contact the dean’s office.

How do I assure an employer or graduate school that I have graduated?

We conduct the formal review of the December degree candidates in late January each year, and notify the registrar to post the degree on your transcript. If you need a certification letter indicating the conferral of the degree, please contact the dean’s office.

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