The College confers degrees in the spring, August, and after Block 5; Commencement exercises, however, are held only in the spring following Block Eight. All candidates for graduation are required to attend the Spring Commencement unless granted permission by the Dean of the College to be graduated in absentia.

Students must file an application for graduation (see "General Requirements for Degree Programs," Paragraphs 2 and 3). Transcripts of work taken at other schools before September of a student's senior year and statements of confirmation or exemption requested during the Senior Conference must be received by the Registrar before December 31 if they are to be credited toward the student's graduation during that academic year.

Candidates who are not enrolled in the year in which they expect to receive their degree must notify the Registrar's Office before March 1 of their intention to be graduated. If there are any transcripts or other kinds of documentation needed to complete their degree requirements, the Registrar will specify the deadline. Seniors on off-campus programs that do not issue final grades before Cornell's deadline must necessarily postpone their graduation until August. Even though a student may complete her or his requirements immediately after Commencement, the degree will not be conferred, nor the diploma awarded, retroactively.

Students who, at the end of Block Eight of their senior year, are within two courses of completing their degree requirements, have earned at least 29 course credits, have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, and have paid in full the balance on their Cornell accounts may participate in the Commencement exercises with their Class. In such cases the student receives a blank diploma jacket and is not considered a graduate. The student’s diploma will be conferred at the next degree conferral date depending upon the date the student completes her or his degree requirements. Students who participate in the Commencement exercises as non-graduates may not participate again when their diploma is actually conferred. To apply for permission from the Academic Standing Committee to participate as a non-graduate and to be graduated in August, after Block 5, or the following spring, consult the Registrar before March 1.

Participating in Commencement as a Non-Graduate

Students who elect to participate in Commencement as non-graduates do so with the understanding that they will not be ranked within the graduating class of that or any other year and may not be eligible for certain honors or for election to honorary societies that elect members from those seniors scheduled to be graduated in the spring. A student who believes that he or she may qualify for such honors should postpone graduation until the following spring and thereby retain her or his eligibility.

Non-graduates who elect to participate in Commencement have 16 months in which to complete their final requirements, either by returning to Cornell or by transferring the final credit(s) to Cornell. If the credits are not completed within that time period, students are considered to be withdrawn and, if they wish to complete their degree at a later date, must meet the requirements in effect in the Catalogue at that time.


Students who during their academic career at Cornell have distinguished themselves by their outstanding scholarship may be eligible for either or both of the following categories of Commencement Honors:

All-College Honors, based upon a cumulative grade point average for all courses taken for grade point credit at Cornell College, provided that such courses total 20 or more (16 or more for transfer students), are indicated on the diploma as follows if the student's average is within the indicated range:

summa cum laude 3.90 - 4.00
magna cum laude 3.70 - 3.89
cum laude 3.50 - 3.69
Honors in the Major, with the words "with distinction" printed on the diploma, may be awarded by a major to graduating seniors who have successfully completed (1) a major with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in all courses taken within that major; (2) a project or paper judged to be of honors quality by the faculty of the major; and (3) a public oral examination on the project or paper (reviewed by at least three faculty representing two different departments and selected by the major advisor in consultation with the student) or a public exhibition or recital of artistic merit. Each major may specify further requirements and establish its own procedures for evaluating the project or paper. Students interested in earning Honors in the Major should confer with their department or program chair by the beginning of their senior year.