Commencement vs. Graduation
Commencement is a ceremony that celebrates the completion (or near completion) of a degree. Participation in a commencement ceremony does not indicate that you have officially graduated or completed all degree requirements.
Graduation marks the completion of all degree requirements and coursework as recorded on your official transcript. Learn more about expected graduation quarters, changing your graduation quarter, applying for graduation as a masters student, diplomas and more by visiting the Office of the Registrar's Graduation Process site.
Check Your Graduation Quarter
Once you have reached 72% or more of degree completion (78% for Architecture and Landscape Architecture majors), you are assigned a graduation quarter. To view your assignment quarter:
- Log on to your Cal Poly Portal
- Click the "Academics" tab
- Under "General Degree Resources" click "Poly Profile"
- Under the "Career Program Plans" section, you will find “Expected graduation is XXX quarter”
- If you are scheduled to graduate in Winter, Spring or Summer quarter, you are automatically scheduled to participate in the Spring Commencement Ceremony. Students will automatically begin receiving information about Spring Commencement via email in Spring quarter.
- If you are scheduled to graduate in Fall quarter, you are automatically scheduled to participate in the Fall Commencement Ceremony. Students will automatically begin receiving information about Fall Commencement via email in Fall quarter.
Change Your Commencement Ceremony
Please note: THIS FORM IS NOT REQUIRED IF YOUR EXPECTED GRADUATION QUARTER IS LISTED IN THE PORTAL AS FALL 2020.
Please only complete this form if:
- You would like to participate in a commencement ceremony that is different than the one you are scheduled to participate in. (Learn how to check your graduation quarter above).
- You are a 4+1 student and would like to participate in commencement at the completion of the undergraduate portion of your program.
- You are an undergraduate student and submitted a Change of Degree Completion Term form late (less than one quarter prior to the quarter you plan to graduate).
- You are a graduate student and submitted your Application for Graduation form late (less than one quarter prior to the quarter you plan to graduate).
Still not sure if you need to complete a Commencement Request Form? Contact the Commencement Office at 805-756-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline to complete the Fall 2020 Commencement Request Form and have your name listed in the commemorative booklet has passed. Please contact the Commencement Office if you have any questions.
View and purchase past commencement ceremony photos. Prices vary by order.
Looking for photos from ceremonies prior to June 2019? Please visit the Ultimate Exposures website.
Be sure to complete these steps before commencement!
- Update your Cal Poly Portal with the following information:
- Mailing address: where you would like your diploma sent.
- Name: how you would like it to appear on your diploma.
- Email: forward your Cal Poly email to a personal account.
- Complete the Graduate Status Report.
- Connect with your alumni network through Cal Poly Alumni.
Diplomas and Certificates
Learn about diploma information by visiting the Office of the Registrar's Graduation Process page.
A complimentary certificate will be given to each student who participates in a commencement ceremony. For students who misplace their certificate or would like an additional one, please contact the Commencement Office.
Graduates and guests will receive a commemorative commencement program at each ceremony. This program is not an official list of graduates or honors recipients. While the Commencement Office does its best to list all eligible graduates in the program, please note that there is no guarantee that every name will be included.
The tassel color each graduate wears represents the discipline in which they studied. Bachelor's candidates wear tassels on the right side of the mortarboard and Master's candidates wear tassels on the left side.
College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
All degrees | Maize
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Architecture | Blue Violet
Architectural Engineering | Orange
All other degrees | Brown
Orfalea College of Business
Industrial Technology | Sapphire Blue
All other degrees | Drab
College of Engineering
All degrees | Orange
College of Liberal Arts
All degrees | White
College of Science and Mathematics
Kinesiology | Sage Green
All other degrees | Golden Yellow
All degrees | White
The velvet border on a master's candidate's hood represents the subject in which the degree is earned, while the lining and chevron colors represent the university granting the degree. Cal Poly's colors are represented with green lining and gold chevrons.
Effective Fall 2015, a mandatory commencement fee will be automatically charged to all eligible graduates and all student who have achieved 75% degree completion. The fee will be charged to the student's account. The commencement fee covers the cost of all commencement-related services, resources, events, staffing and all programmatic elements of the commencement experience from beginning to end. For further details, please visit the Student Accounts website.
Archived Ceremony Videos
Visit the Cal Poly Commencement YouTube Channel to watch past ceremony livestream videos.