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Conferral of Degrees (GAP 5.7)

Document 5.7

Conferral of Degrees

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April 8, 2009

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All matriculated graduate students and programs

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If you have questions or suggestions about this handbook, contact the office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

This handbook is a reference for Stanford faculty, staff and students. Where the current Stanford University Bulletin includes coverage of these topics, the current Bulletin is the governing policy. Stanford University reserves the right to make changes to its applicable policies, procedures and other materials contained here at any time and without prior notice.


Defines requirements and procedures for the conferral of graduate degrees and for participation in commencement ceremonies


Graduate degrees are conferred by the authority of the Senate of the Academic Council upon the recommendation of the Committee on Graduate Studies and the faculty of the department, school, or program.


Upon recommendation to the Senate of the Academic Council by the faculty of the relevant departments or schools and the Committee on Graduate Studies, graduate degrees are awarded four times each year, at the conclusion of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer terms. All diplomas, however, are prepared and awarded in Spring quarter.

1.1 Application to Graduate

Students must apply for conferral of a graduate degree by filing an Application to Graduate by the deadline for each term. The deadlines are published in the Time Schedule. A separate application must be filed for each degree program and for each conferral term. Applications are filed through Axess.

Students who miss the deadline for filing their Application to Graduate in Axess must submit a paper request to the Office of the Registrar, along with a Diploma Distribution form and a brief, typed statement indicating why the student missed the application deadline. There is a processing fee for a late application to graduate. 

Requests for conferral are reviewed by the Office of the Registrar and the student’s department to verify completion of degree requirements.

The Office of the Registrar is responsible for producing final recommending lists, based on students’ applications to graduate, for review by departments. Departments are responsible for verifying and signing recommending lists to the Office of the Registrar by the deadline for each quarter’s graduation.

Students must be registered in the term of degree conferral. Students with unmet financial obligations resulting in the placement of a hold on their registration cannot receive a transcript, statement of completion, degree certificate, or diploma until the hold is released by the Student Financial Services office (see GAP 5.5, Enrollment Holds).

Students are typically expected to apply to graduate during the term in which they expect to be awarded a degree. Stanford University, however, reserves the right to confer a degree on a student who has completed all of the requirements for a degree even though the student has not applied to graduate; such an individual would then be subject to the University’s usual rules and restrictions regarding future enrollment or registration.

1.2 Documentation of Degree Conferral

1.2.1 Transcripts

The Office of the Registrar posts newly-conferred degrees on students’ records approximately ten days after the conferral date of each term. At that time, the program status for the degree changes to “conferred.” Transcripts ordered after that date will show the conferred degree and date.

1.2.2 Degree Certificates

Students who receive degrees at the end of Summer, Autumn, and Winter quarters are sent degree certificates approximately two weeks after the conferral date by the Office of the Registrar. These certificates state the student’s name, degree program completed, and date of conferral.

1.2.3 Diplomas

Diplomas are distributed only at Commencement or by mail following Commencement to students receiving Spring quarter degrees and to students who received degrees at the end of the previous Summer, Autumn, and Winter quarters. In Spring quarter, students must apply to graduate by the second week in April. in order to have a diploma prepared for the Commencement ceremony. The exact date is published in the university calendar.

1.2.4 Statements of Completion

Doctoral students who have submitted their dissertations and who need confirmation of their status for employment purposes before conferral may request a Statement of Completion. These statements are prepared by the Office of the Registrar after verifying with the department administrator that all degree requirements have been fulfilled, and that there are no holds on the student’s record. The Statement of Completion states that the student has completed all degree requirements and that the degree will be conferred on the next conferral date. To request a Statement of Completion, students should submit a HelpSU ticket, directed to the Records Unit in the Office of the University Registrar.

1.2.5 Holds on Documentation

Students who have certain holds on their records may not receive a transcript, degree certificate, diploma, or statement of completion. Generally, these holds represent unmet financial obligations or result from University disciplinary action (see GAP 5.5, Enrollment Holds).

1.3 Walkthrough of Graduation

Students who have satisfied necessary eligibility requirements may participate in Stanford commencement exercises at the end of Spring quarter prior to actual degree conferral. Students who wish to do this must file a written request with their department by the published deadline (some departments may require a Commencement Walkthrough Petition, while others do not). This is NOT an application to graduate, nor is it a petition to withdraw an application to graduate. Students must submit an application to graduate via Axess by the published deadline.

The student must receive departmental approval to be eligible to participate in a commencement walkthrough. In addition:

  •  M.A./M.S. students should have completed at least 36 units
  •  Ph.D. students should have completed their oral defense.

The Office of the Registrar does not process or approve walkthrough requests for graduate students.

1.4 Withdrawal of Application to Graduate

Students who wish to withdraw a request for conferral or make changes to the Application to Graduate should notify the Student Services Center in writing through the Withdrawal of Application to Graduate form, or other appropriate form.

By signing and submitting a Withdrawal of Application to Graduate, the student requests the Office of the Registrar to withdraw the application to graduate for the quarter indicated. The student acknowledges that he or she must submit a new application to graduate via Axess for the quarter in which graduation is anticipated by the deadline published in the academic calendar.

Students should discuss their graduation plans with their adviser and with department student services staff. International students holding F-1 or J-1 visas should also consult the Bechtel International Center to discuss whether filing this form will affect their visa status in any way.


2.1 Submitting and Withdrawing the Application to Graduate

1. Completes an Application to Graduate in Axess prior to the published deadline for the quarter in which graduation in intended. The deadlines are published in the Time Schedule. A separate application must be filed for each degree program and for each conferral term. Students must be registered in the term of degree conferral. Student
2. If filing a request after the quarterly deadline, submits a paper request to the Office of the Registrar, along with a Diploma Distribution form and a brief, typed statement indicating why the student missed the application deadline. Student
3. To withdraw a request for conferral or make changes to the Application to Graduate, submit a Withdrawal of Application to Graduate form. Students who withdraw their graduation applications or fail to meet degree requirements must reapply to graduate in a subsequent term. Student

2.2 Recommending Lists


Near the middle of each quarter, prepares preliminary recommending lists by running the PeopleSoft “Graduation Report” to review the list and check the following:

  1. If a sub-plan (field) is listed, has the student completed the appropriate requirements?
  2. Are there any students who are expecting to graduate who are not on the list?If so, the department should advise the student to apply to graduate if the application to graduate deadline has not passed.
  3. Have the students on the list completed all degree requirements?
  4. Does the student meet the minimum GPA requirement thus far?
2. Resolves any questions about a student’s program of study and fulfillment of requirements. Department
3. Prepares final Recommending Lists and distributes to departments. Registrar

After the final deadline for filing applications to graduate, but prior to the deadline for submitting theses and dissertations, verifies by running the PeopleSoft “STF Degree Clearance” report to that the student has:

  1. Completed satisfactorily all courses required for the program (no incompletes ”I,” or missing grades);
  2. Met all department minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements;
  3. Completed all department projects or papers;
  4. Completed language requirements, if specified;
  5. Cleared all incompletes and “N” grades;
  6. Completed all other department requirements for the degree;
  7. Filed required forms such as Master’s Program Proposal, Application for Candidacy, and any necessary revisions to these forms;
  8. Completed University requirements such as passing an oral examination and submitting a dissertation.
5. Approves and signs the Final Recommending List, and deliver to the Office of the Registrar by the quarterly published deadline. This signature means that each student whose name is on the list has satisfactorily completed all requirements for the degree requested, including all required courses with a final satisfactory grade. If the list is blank, the signed list confirms that the department is not expecting any degree candidates for that conferral term. Department Chair
6. Keeps a copy of the recommending list for its records. Department

Verifies the following information for degree candidates whose names appear on the final recommending list:

  1. Has the student an active program or valid candidacy for the degree?
  2. Is the student registered the conferral term, or the term immediately preceding?
  3. Has the student met the minimum and unduplicated unit requirements for the degree?
  4. If a candidate for the Engineer or a doctoral degree, has the student submitted the required thesis or dissertation?
  5. If in a coterminal program, has the bachelor’s degree been conferred prior to or simultaneously with the master’s degree?
  6. Has the student any disciplinary holds that prevent or postpone degree conferral?
8. Notifies students who have been denied degree conferral. Registrar
9. Submits an official list to the Senate of the Academic Council when all department recommendations have been processed. Registrar
10. Notifies the Registrar’s Office of final disposition of the student’s status. Department
11. Enters degree conferral status into PeopleSoft upon Senate approval. Registrar

2.3 Processing a Request to Walkthrough Graduation

1. If necessary eligibility requirements are met, requests departmental approval to walkthrough graduation ceremonies prior to degree conferral. This is NOT an application to graduate nor is it a petition to with draw an application to graduate. Student
2. Approves or denies the walkthrough request and notifies the student of that decision. Department


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