Commencement 2020 FAQ

What is the difference between Graduation and Commencement?

Graduation is the process of awarding a degree upon satisfying all major requirements as verified by the Office of the Registrar and official posting of a student’s degree to the academic record, i.e. Academic Transcript: Conferral Date. Students are required to file for graduation for the term in which they expect to complete degree requirements. If a student is registered as a matriculated (degree-seeking) student for a term outside of the expected completion, the request will be denied.

Commencement is a ceremony (traditionally held in May of each year), in which December 2019 and January 2020 graduates, and candidates for May 2020 and August 2020 may participate.

Participation at Commencement is encouraged, but is not required. Participation in Commencement exercises does not denote automatic degree conferral. Degrees are not awarded at the commencement ceremony.

When may I apply for graduation?

Fall 2019 applications will be accepted beginning September, 2019.

Winter 2020 graduation applicants may also apply mid-September.

The Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 applications will be accepted beginning in mid-February, 2020. The application deadline is March 2, 2020. The application procedures will be sent to students’ Old Westbury e-mail accounts.

Late applicants may purchase a cap and gown to participate in the commencement ceremony, but their names may not appear in the commencement program.

Who may participate in the commencement ceremony?

In addition to Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 graduates, Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 graduation candidates whose graduation applications are accepted by the Office of the Registrar may purchase a cap and gown through the college bookstore.  Purchase of the cap and gown confirms participation in the Commencement ceremony.

Students are urged to review their degree audit report often to make sure they are making progress towards their degree.

How do I purchase a cap and gown?

At present, our 2020 Commencement ceremony, as well as cap and gown purchasing have been postponed due to COVID-19.

A campus-wide announcement will be sent when additional information is known.

When can I take my Cap & Gown graduate portraits? 

In an effort to protect the health and safety of clients and staff, Thornton Studio portrait sessions are canceled until further notice.

Important note: As in the past, students are welcome to take photos with any vendor of choice. If you have previously taken photos with Thornton Studios and have questions regarding a current order, please contact them directly via:

When may I pick up my commencement tickets?

Eight tickets per candidate will be available for pick up at no charge during the “Commencement Celebration” where students whose graduation applications have been accepted may purchase and/or pick up their caps and gowns in the Student Union. This will be rescheduled to a later date due to COVID-19.

Graduates/candidates must purchase a cap and gown to obtain tickets.

Do children require tickets?

With the exception of infants, all guests require a ticket. 

Where will the ceremony be held?

The ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which is located at 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale, NY 11553.

How long is the ceremony?

The ceremony is expected to run 2.5 to 3 hours.

Is the diploma issued at commencement?

Participation in the commencement ceremony does not denote automatic degree completion.

Diplomas will be mailed to graduates approximately three to four months after the final degree audit.

Will the ceremony be available on Livestream?

Yes, the ceremony can be watched online via the Livestream link.

When I get to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where do I go?

Candidates and their guests may park in any available parking spot with the exclusion of the lot being occupied by the Empire State Fair (Hempstead Turnpike side/Parking Lot 6). Cars will not be permitted to park in VIP Parking Lot 1 unless otherwise specified. Candidates and faculty will enter the Coliseum through Gate 10, which is also marked as the Geico Main Entrance/Grant Thornton VIP Lounge entrance. Guests will enter through Gates 14 and 17, where their tickets will be collected. Further details on parking lots, entrances, and Coliseum policies can be found on their website.