Graduate Student Handbook

Degree Conferral and Participating in Commencement

Graduating from a program and participating in Commencement are two separate activities. Graduating from a program means the student has successfully completed all requirements identified by the program. It is an academic milestone whose indicator is conferral of the graduate degree.

Commencement is a public celebration of the academic completion of a degree program. Separate applications are required to graduate from a program and to participate in Commencement. A student may complete the degree and decide not to participate in Commencement. A student may not participate in Commencement before completing the degree.

To apply to graduate, the student submits the Graduation Application to the Cashier's Office by the required deadline.

Degree Conferral

Degrees are conferred three times each year: December, May, and August. Commencement exercises are conducted twice a year, in December and in May. Students who complete degree requirements in the summer or in the fall semester may participate in Commencement in December. Students who complete degree requirements in the spring semester may participate in Commencement in May.

Completion of Degree: Thesis/Project/Dissertation

To be eligible for degree conferral, students in a thesis/project/dissertation track must conduct and pass the thesis, project or dissertation on or about April 15 for Spring degree conferral, and on or about November 15 for Fall degree conferral. The defense must be scheduled a month prior to the deadline for the defense as posted in the Academic Calendar using the Thesis/Project/Dissertation Defense Schedule form. A copy of the form is submitted to the Graduate Division with signatures of the student and the primary advisor, identifying the date, time and location of the defense. The student retains the original until the defense is completed, submitting the form to the Graduate Division with the primary advisor’s signature indicating that the defense was successful.

Actual deadlines for scheduling the defense and the defense itself are posted in the University Academic Calendar for Fall, Spring and Summer.

Theses and projects must be submitted to committee members a minimum of two weeks prior to the defense to allow for thoughtful review and feedback prior to the defense. It is recommended that dissertations be submitted to committee members at least two months prior to the defense. In no case may the dissertation be submitted to the committee than two weeks prior to the defense. Submission to the committee that will be less than two months prior to the defense should be approved by the committee members.

Completion of Degree: Non-Thesis

Students in non-thesis tracks submit the Authorization to Participate in Commencement form to the Graduate Division. This form indicates confirmation from the graduate program that the student is on track and expected to finish all degree requirements by the end of the semester, and is signed by the student, the Primary Advisor and the Graduate Program Chair. It is due by the Thesis Defense deadline.

Participating in Commencement

To participate in the commencement ceremony, the student submits Commencement Registration online by the posted deadline. The student is responsible for ordering the relevant academic regalia from the UH Hilo Bookstore. Please consult the Bookstore for deadlines to place your order, generally about two months prior to Commencement.