Skip Navigation
American Public University System

Commencement vs. Graduation

There are important differences between commencement and graduation and we want you to be comfortable with these common university terms.

Commencement refers to the ceremony, officiated by the provost of the university, where you share the excitement and importance of your academic accomplishments with peers, family, and friends. It is also a time for the university, president, deans, program directors, faculty, and staff to pay special tribute to you for the outstanding efforts you have shown in earning your degree. The university holds one ceremony, traditionally in June, to celebrate the graduates for the four prior conferrals. There is no registration fee to attend commencement; however, graduates will need to secure academic regalia, and any charges affiliated with traveling to the ceremony location.

Graduation, on the other hand, is the process of submitting an online graduation application, completing all academic requirements for your degree, and settling all financial obligations, among a few other audits/assessments. The administrative process of degree conferral will indicate your official date of graduation. Conferral date is defined as the date on which your degree is officially awarded. There are four official conferral (degree posting) dates per year: February 15, May 15, August 15, and November 15. There is a one-time, nonrefundable graduation fee of $100 per degree. The fee covers administrative costs associated with completing the graduation review, as well as printing and shipping your diploma. Also note, that you will receive your diploma whether you attend commencement or not.

There are important instructions and deadlines that you will need to meet as you prepare to complete your program, so make sure you review the graduation process before you begin your last course.

If you have not filled out the graduation application inside the ecampus, contact the academic advising team to get started. If you are interested in attending an upcoming commencement and have questions, please email commencement@apus.edu.