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SSW Commencement FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Completing Your Degree
Ceremony Dates & Times
Ceremony Participation
Odds & Ends

Completing Your Degree

What is the difference between Graduation and Commencement?

“Graduation” means actually finishing and completely fulfilling your degree requirements resulting in a diploma. In other words, “Graduation” is the technical obtainment of credits to receive a degree. 

“Commencement” is the symbolic ceremony marking the closing of your academic career where you receive commendation for your hard work at the School of Social Work. It is an opportunity for you, your family, friends, and the SSW community to celebrate your accomplishment.


I went to a Commencement Ceremony but didn’t finish my degree requirements. Do I have my degree from PSU?

No. You don’t have a degree from Portland State University until you have satisfied all of your degree requirements – even if you participated in a Commencement Ceremony. The Commencement Ceremony is only a celebration.

How do I apply to graduate?

BSW/CFS Students: There are three basic steps to graduate. 

Step 1: Meet with an adviser - Students may use the Degree Audit Reporting System at any time to check their progress toward a degree and are encouraged to meet with their academic adviser to discuss the report and plot a course for clearing up any outstanding course work issues.

Step 2: Submit a degree application - Any student seeking a degree from PSU must apply for the degree. See Applying for a Degree for specific dates and further information. 

Finally, attend to any outstanding grade issues or outstanding student account balances. All course work should be completed and final grades recorded to ensure smooth processing of your degree application. 

If you have questions regarding the Undergraduate Graduation Application process, please call 503.725.3438. Please note that your PSU account will be billed a $20 processing fee.

MSW/Ph.D. Students: After registering for your final term, you must complete the following steps. 

Step 1: Apply to graduate with the Office of Graduate Studies - Go to the OGS website ( and click on the Forms tab. The name of your application is: Application for Awarding of Master’s or Doctoral Degree.

Step 2: Run your DARS report through Banweb to ensure you have met all requirements.

When do I receive my diploma? Can I have my diploma mailed to me?

The Office of Degree Requirements processes diplomas. Diplomas will be ready for pick up in early September. You may go to the office and pick up your diploma (located on the first floor of Neuberger Hall). It is recommended that you call Degree Requirements first, to ensure that your diploma will be available for pick up (503-725-3438).  You can also have your diploma mailed to you by filling out the Diploma Mail Authorization form located on the Degree Requirements website ( under Forms. This form can be printed and mailed to Degree Requirements or it can be filled out and submitted online.

Ceremony Dates & Times

When is the SSW Commencement Ceremony for this academic year (2014-2015)?

The School of Social Work will host one undergraduate Commencement Ceremony and one graduate Commencement Ceremony. Both ceremonies will occur on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at the Peter Stott Center.

The Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony will begin at 10:30am. Students participating in the ceremony must arrive at the Stott Center no later than 9:30am for check-in and the class photo.

The Graduate Commencement Ceremony will begin at 1:30pm. Students participating in the ceremony must arrive at the Stott Center no later than 12:30pm for check-in and the class photo.


How long does the SSW Commencement Ceremony typically last?

The Commencement Ceremony lasts approximately 1.5 - 2 hours. 

Ceremony Participation

Can my friend “hood” me?

Only your practice instructor or a designated SSW faculty member may “hood” you.



Where should my out-of-town guests stay while visiting Portland?

For information about lodging in Portland for your guests, please visit our hotel booking engine

Will there be accessibility seating?

Yes, there will be floor seating reserved for families with accessibility needs. There is also space between the rows of bleachers for wheelchair access. 


Odds & Ends

Where can I buy my cap, gown, announcements or other regalia for the Commencement Ceremony?

Regalia for commencement can be purchased at here:

 Does the School have loaner regalia?

The School has a limited number of gowns, hoods, and caps to let students borrow on a first come first served basis. 

Undergraduate students, please email Melissa Penners ( if you would like to borrow a gown/hood/cap. Be sure to include details about the items you'd like to borrow (gown/hood/set) and your height. 

Graduate students, please keep an eye on your PDX email. Erika Woods will email the student listserv once the gown/hood/caps are available to borrow. Please note, gowns/hoods/caps will be distributed during Spring term.

 Is regalia required in order to participate in the SSW commencement ceremony?

Regalia is encouraged, but not required. Regalia has a rich and interesting history. 

What are the tassel colors for my particular school?

The SSW color is Citron.

I was photographed at a Commencement Ceremony. Where can I get copies of that picture?

You can browse and purchase Commencement Ceremony photographs at 

Name cards will be available in the graduate staging area. These cards serve two purposes: 1) Informing the name reader how to pronounce your name phonetically and 2) Providing Grad Images with your email address. Grad Images will email you an event access code so that you can view and purchase your pictures.  Remember, if you do not provide your email address, Grad Images will not be able to notify you that your photos are available to view.

I need insurance after college.  What are my options?

Students should visit the Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services' tips on getting insurance after college.

I heard a rumor about Commencement. Where can I find out about whether it is true?

If you have any questions or concerns about the SSW Commencement Ceremonies, please contact us at

I want to share my SSW graduation story with others. Where can I do this?

We want to hear your story! Please email your story to

What if the job I am applying for needs verification that I have an MSW Degree but my diploma isn’t ready? 

In this instance, please contact Janet Putnam (  Janet can write a letter to the agency where you are applying, confirming that you have met the requirements for the MSW degree and that your diploma will not be available until early September.This letter has been accepted by agencies in past years as proof of graduation.