FAQ and Guest FAQ

A wide view of Calihan Hall on commencement day.

Frequently Asked Questions About Graduation

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    When is Graduation?

    Graduation is the point at which ALL degree requirements have been met and the degree is awarded. It is the responsibility of the college or school office to certify that all degree requirements have been met and the degree information is added to your official transcript in the Office of the Registrar. Degrees are normally completed at the end of each semester but may also occur the last date at the end of each month during the academic year when all requirements are met.  A commencement ceremony is held only once each year on the second Saturday in May.

    Whom do I have to tell that I am ready to graduate?

    No later than the first week of the semester in which you plan to complete your degree requirements, you need to submit your graduation application online through your My Portal account. Summer graduates need to complete the application in the first week of the Winter semester before they graduate in order to be eligible to participate in the May commencement ceremony.  

    Applications received after the deadline may result in denial to participate in the commencement ceremony and/or delay in the date of graduation.


    Is there a fee for graduation?

    There is a graduation fee of $95, which is applied to your student account at the time you submit your application online. This fee covers the costs of Commencement whether or not you participate. If you participate in the ceremony, there will be a cap & gown fee at the time you place your order directly with the cap and gown company.

    Can I graduate in one semester and finish my courses in the next semester or session?

    No. You may graduate only at the point when ALL degree requirements have been met. Your degree date will be the next available date once all requirements have been met.  There is a graduation date the last day of each month in order to accommodate those that complete degree requirements during the semester instead of at the end of a semester.

    When is the graduation ceremony?

    Detroit Mercy has one commencement day per year, which is held in May on the McNichols Campus. Students who complete their degree requirements and graduate in December or April or plan to graduate in any month during the summer are invited to attend the May ceremony if their Application for Graduation has been received and they have been approved by their college/school to participate. Students who won't be completing all their degree requirements until after the summer when the academic year finishes will be eligible to participate in the next year's May ceremony as part of that academic year ceremony. 

    I want to go to commencement. What do I have to do?

    Students who have filed their Application for Graduation by the January deadline will receive a mailing in mid-February inviting them to participate. There will be a reservation (RSVP) card for you to return. If you believe you are eligible for Commencement, but have not received information by the end of February, contact the Registrar's Office immediately.

    The ceremony is planned for only those who RSVP by the deadline.


    I participated in the commencement ceremony. Does that mean I have my degree?

    Commencement is ceremonial. Participation in the ceremony does not assure that all degree requirements have been met or that a degree has been or will be granted.

    When will I get my diploma?

    Your diploma is available after your degree has been certified and has been printed. Diplomas are not distributed on the day of the Commencement Ceremony. They will be available from your college/school dean's office the week after the ceremony in May.  If you don't pick up the diploma in person then it will be mailed to you at your address on file.  Diplomas and transcripts are withheld for students who owe a financial balance to the University. If you require verification of graduation or a transcript prior to receiving your diploma, contact the Registrar's Office after Commencement.

    Will honors appear on my diploma?

    Graduates who have compiled superior academic records during their undergraduate program at Detroit Mercy will have one of the following honors inscribed on their diploma and recorded on their permanent academic transcript: cum laude (3.50 GPA minimum), magna cum laude (3.70 GPA minimum), summa cum laude (3.90 GPA minimum). These GPA requirements are in effect for students entering Detroit Mercy as of Fall 2011.  All coursework in the cumulative GPA at Detroit Mercy is used in the calculation for honors. Transfer students must complete at least 60 hours at Detroit Mercy to be eligible for honors recognition. The responsibility for determining appropriate academic honors rests with the individual colleges/schools. Candidates enrolled in the Honors Program, who have completed the established requirements of the program, will have honors suitably inscribed as part of their degree name on their diploma.

    What will be on my diploma?

    Diplomas are printed on 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper in landscape format. Included will be your:

    • Name
    • Degree title
    • Latin honors, where applicable
    • Date degree was awarded
    • Signatures of the Dean of your college/school, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and President

    What name can I have on my diploma?

    The name on your diploma must match the name used on your official student records at Detroit Mercy. After the diploma has been printed, your graduation record is official, and the name on your diploma cannot be changed. 

    If you are officially changing your name before your diploma is ordered, you must bring the legal proof of your name change to the Office of the Registrar before you submit your graduation application online.

    If you are changing your legal name after your graduation and your diploma has been printed you can provide name change documents to the Office of the Registrar and pay for the cost of a new diploma. 


    I have a double major. Will I get two diplomas?

    No. A double major only meets the requirements for one degree. If you wish to get a second undergraduate degree, you must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours beyond those required for the first degree and meet the requirements for the second degree.

    Why didn't my name appear in the Commencement program?

    The program is sent to the printer several weeks before the ceremony. If you filed your Application for Graduation late, your name may not appear in the program. To ensure that your name appears in the Commencement program, you must file your Application for Graduation by the deadline before the beginning of the semester in which you plan to graduate.  Summer graduates need to apply before the Winter semester to be invited to the May ceremony, if qualified.

    I graduated and just noticed an error on my transcript. How can I get it corrected?

    You need to contact your college/school as soon as you notice the error. The college/school will work with the Registrar's Office if it is determined that an error has occurred and must be corrected.

    I applied to graduate, but now I won't be finished this semester. Do I need to apply to graduate again?

    You do not need to file another Application for Graduation or pay another graduation fee. See your Dean's Office about officially changing your expected date of graduation. There may be a fee increase depending on when you originally applied and when you are now expected to graduate.

    I lost my diploma. How can I get a duplicate?

    Duplicate diplomas are available through the Office of the Registrar for $35 for the 8 1/2 x 11 size. Duplicate diplomas from the School of Law or School of Dentistry are $50. Normal processing takes approximately one week. Orders can be picked up or mailed to you when they arrive.

    All duplicate diplomas will have a reissue date noted on the diploma. Duplicate order form is available here.


    What color is my cap and gown?

    Your cap and gown are both black. The tassel on your cap will represent your degree color which is determined by the Academic Costume Code. If you are receiving a master's degree, specialist degree, or a doctorate, the color of the lining of your hood will also represent your degree.

    Where can I get more information about Commencement if I need it?

    Visit the commencement website and use the menu on that page to link to current Commencement information.

Frequently Asked Questions by McNichols Campus Guests

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    How long is Commencement?

    The actual commencement ceremony takes about two hours, one hour for speeches and conferring of degrees and one hour for degree presentation. It is not an event that most young children find interesting. With respect for the Ceremony and those graduating, you are expected to stay in place for the entire event.

    What if my candidate has some existing commencement concerns?

    Commencement Day is not the time to address pre-existing concerns. These matters should be immediately brought to the attention of your candidate’s college/school office or academic advisor.

    How many tickets are available?

    No tickets are necessary. We ask that no more than 10 guests be invited. Remember that seating is on a first come, first served basis.

    Where do I park?

    Parking is limited. Allow extra time to park and, if possible, car pool. For parking locations, see the map provided to your candidate or visit the Commencement website. Disabled parking, in front of Calihan Hall or in Lot E, is restricted to those with valid handicapped stickers or license plateParking is also on a first come, first served basis.

    When and where are the commencement events?

    Please visit the Graduation Day page for a day-of timetable for both ceremonies and baccalaureate mass.

    Baccalaureate Mass

    This Mass is an integral part of the Commencement activities and candidates and guests of all faiths are invited to join this religious service thanking God for His blessings and praying for our future. Mass is at Gesu Church, located one block north of the McNichols Campus on Santa Maria between Quincy and Oak Drive.


    Commencement is located at Calihan Hall, which is not an air-conditioned facility. If it is a warm day please dress accordingly.


    Will the commencement ceremony be televised?

    Family and friends unable to attend the commencement ceremony may watch online. For information, see the Watch Online page.

    How can I get a good seat?

    Calihan Hall doors open at 8 a.m. for the morning ceremony and 12:45 p.m. for the afternoon ceremony. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Please do not arrive at Calihan Hall before the doors open.

    Is there special seating for a physically disabled guest?

    There is limited Calihan Hall main floor seating for disabled guests accompanied by one able bodied companion. Calihan Hall has no elevators and balcony seating can only be accessed by steep steps.

    Does Calihan Hall have accessible restrooms?

    Restrooms are located around the main floor hallways. Accessible restrooms are located in the north corridor near the main entrance of the building and near the south corridor.

    Can the Ceremony be videotaped/photographed?

    Videotaping/photographing is permitted by guests from the balcony only. A professional photographer will take three shots of your graduate on the floor during the degree presentation. Guests, other than those seated in the physically disabled section, are not permitted on the main floor.

    What happens if it rains?

    Candidates are to report to their assembly areas regardless of the weather. If rain is predicted, they are instructed to bring an umbrella. If the Rain Plan is put into effect, i.e., colleges/schools will come directly to the northwest doors of Calihan Hall from their assembly areas rather than organizing a formal procession at the Fisher Fountain. Implementing the rain plan will not affect the Procession within Calihan Hall.

    What can’t I bring into Calihan Hall?

    Commencement is a formal academic ceremony, not an athletic event. Balloons, noise makers, air/bull horns, beach balls, signs, etc. are not permitted inside Calihan Hall.

    What is appropriate guest behavior?

    Since Commencement is a formal academic ceremony, guests are asked to please show proper respect for both the ceremony and the other guests by:

    • Not interfering with the Procession.
    • Turning off all cell phones.
    • Remaining quiet and dignified during the ceremony.
    • Refraining from shouting graduate names from the balcony during the Ceremony. This type of behavior is disrespectful and disruptive. Guests who choose not to respect the rights of others will be asked to be quiet and then, if the behavior continues, asked to leave.
    • Conferring of Degrees — This is the most important and solemn part of the Ceremony. Although quiet should be maintained while the President confers the degrees, expressions of joy are appropriate after the conferring of degrees.
    • Presentation of Degrees — A joyous expression is also appropriate when your graduate’s name is read. The celebrations should be very brief so that the next graduate’s name can be heard.

    Where will my graduate be sitting?

    A floor-seating diagram will be available for viewing at the northeast lobby entrance when you enter Calihan Hall. The diagram is also available on the website a couple days before the ceremony. This will give the general location of where your graduate’s college/school will be seated. The candidates are seated alphabetically within their degree section.

    What are the decorations that some graduates wear?

    Graduates’ gowns should not contain adornments such as jewelry, flowers, signs, emblems, etc. Gown decoration is strictly limited to university, college and school honor regalia such as cord, sashes, stoles, pins and medallions. Your graduate may obtain a listing of the approved items from their college/school office which normally involves membership or nomination into an academic honor society. Candidates with caps that are decorated or contain messages are unacceptableFraternity and sorority apparel is not appropriate. Faculty and University Marshals will ask graduates to remove any unauthorized items being worn. Candidates will not be permitted to march in the procession with unapproved items.

    What do the hood and tassel colors signify?

    The colors represent the academic degree area. The colors are:

    Bachelor Degree Majors Tassel Color
    Accounting Golden Yellow
    Addiction Studies Golden Yellow
    Architectural Engineering Orange
    Architecture Blue-Violet
    Biochemistry Golden Yellow
    Biology Golden Yellow (BS) White (BA)
    Business Administration Drab
    Chemistry Golden Yellow (BS) White (BA)
    Civil Engineering Orange
    Communication Studies White
    Computer Science Golden Yellow
    Criminal Justice Golden Yellow
    Developmental Psychology White
    Digital Media Studies White
    Economics White
    Electrical Engineering Orange
    Elementary Education Light Blue
    Engineering Orange
    English White
    Financial Economics White
    Health Information Management Golden Yellow
    Health Services Golden Yellow
    Health Services Administration Golden Yellow
    History White
    Industrial/Organizational Psychology White
    Legal Administration White
    Liberal Studies White

    Golden Yellow (BS)
    White (BA)

    Mechanical Engineering Orange
    Nursing Apricot
    Philosophy White
    Political Science White
    Psychology White
    Robotics and Mechatronic Systems Engineering Orange
    Religious Studies White
    Social Studies Education Light Blue
    Social Work Citron
    Sociology White
    Software Engineering Golden Yellow
    Software Production and Management Golden Yellow
    Special Education - Emotionally Impair/Beh Dis Light Blue
    Special Education - Learning Disabled Light Blue
    Theater White

    Master Degree Majors Tassel and Hood Color
    Addiction Counseling White
    Architecture Blue-Violet
    Business Administration Drab
    Chemistry Golden Yellow
    Civil and Environmental Engineering Orange
    Clinical Nurse Leader Apricot
    Clinical Psychology White
    Community Counseling White
    Community Development White
    Computer Science Golden Yellow
    Criminal Justice White
    Curriculum and Instruction Light Blue
    Economics Copper
    Educational Administration Light Blue
    Electrical and Computer Engineering Orange
    Engineering Management Orange
    Family Nurse Practitioner Apricot
    Financial Economics Copper
    Health Services Administration Golden Yellow
    Health Systems Management Apricot
    Industrial/Organizational Psychology White
    Information Assurance Golden Yellow
    Intelligence Analysis Golden Yellow
    Liberal Studies White
    Mechanical Engineering Orange
    Nurse Anesthesiology Golden Yellow
    Nursing Education Apricot
    Physician Assistant Golden Yellow
    Product Development Golden Yellow
    Religious Studies White
    School Counseling Light Blue
    School Psychology White
    Security Administration Golden Yellow
    Software Engineering Golden Yellow
    Software Management Golden Yellow
    Special Education - Emotionally Impair/Beh Dis Light Blue
    Special Education - Learning Disabled Light Blue
    Teaching of Mathematics Light Blue

    Specialist Degree Majors Tassel and Hood Color
    School Psychology White

    Doctoral Degree Majors Tassel and Hood Color
    Civil and Environmental Engineering Orange
    Clinical Psychology Dark Blue
    Electrical Engineering Orange
    Mechanical Engineering Orange
    Nursing Practice Apricot

    Where may I get information on the Academic Procession, Order of Exercises, Academic Regalia and the Degree Recipients?

    This information appears in the Commencement Program available at the Ceremony.

    How is the right name called when the graduates are presented their degree?

    At the Candidate Assembly, each candidate receives an identification card that contains his/her name, seat number and honors, if applicable. This card is presented to the Announcer when the graduate shakes hands with the president and is presented with diploma cover. Because in the past some candidates have exercised their creative writing talents, the Announcer will read only the college/school printing and handwritten phonetic name pronunciation.

    Why are the names read at such a rapid rate?

    Detroit Mercy personalizes its Commencement by having each participating graduate’s name read. In order not to extend the Ceremony, the graduates’ names are read rapidly. One additional second per name would lengthen the event by 15 minutes.

    Why didn’t my graduate:

    - Have their name in the Commencement Program?

    Program copy is sent to the printer several weeks before the ceremony. A graduate’s name may not appear in the program if the Graduation Application was filed after the deadline.

    - Get a diploma?

    Reasons for not receiving a diploma are:
    - degree requirements have not been met, e.g., courses remain to be completed.
    - outstanding financial balance.
    - the Graduation Application was received after the diploma ordering deadline.

    Graduates who have any concerns should contact their college/school office immediately.

    - Have his/her honors read?

    Honors are awarded to undergraduate students who have completed all their degree requirements as of the end of Term II and all final grades have been recorded.

    For students who began their studies Fall 2011 and beyond Summa cum laude is 3.90 or above, magna cum laude is 3.75 and above and cum laude is 3.50 or above. All coursework in the cumulative GPA at Detroit Mercy is used in the honors calculation All students must have completed 60 hours at Detroit Mercy to qualify for honors. Candidates for Term III (Summer) will not have honors read at Commencement because they have not finished their studies. Honors are not awarded at the master/doctoral degree level.


    Where do I meet my graduate after Commencement?

    After the commencement ceremony is complete, the graduates will recess out of Calihan Hall and march to the Sacred Heart Square. Do not wait in the hallways of Calihan Hall. Since campus will be very crowded, to locate your graduate you may wish to pre-determine a meeting location or use your cell phone after Commencement is over.

    What social media hashtag should I use?

    Detroit Mercy is promoting the use of a social media hashtag so that people can find shared comments and photos online through services such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. For details, check back closer to the Commencement date.

    How do I exit the Campus?

    All vehicles exiting the:
    - McNichols (Six Mile Road) Gate are required to make a right (east) turn.
    - Livernois Gate can only make a right (north) turn. A short distance up the avenue there is a turn-around.

    Where can I get more information about Commencement?

    Check with your graduate, visit the Commencement website or call the Office of the Registrar at 313-993-3313.