By Taunya Dressler, assistant dean for undergraduate affairs, College of Humanities

Is the graduation finish line nearing on your horizon? If so, congratulations. You’ve come a long way, and now it’s time to make sure you finish strong with degree in hand.

There are a few important steps you’ll need to take to ensure the final steps to graduation are complete. For example, did you know you have to apply for graduation? Not to worry, the application process is simple and online.

  1. Online application

    Once you reach 90 credits, a link is activated in your CIS that will take you to the online application. Click on “Apply for Graduation,” or visit the Registrar’s graduation site. But before you apply, you will want to meet with your academic advisor to confirm everything is in line for your graduation.

    • Meet with your academic advisor
      Be sure that you meet with every advisor for any degree you are pursuing, including your major, minor, certificates and honors degrees. Your advisor will review your degree audit with you to ensure you are not missing any requirements; discuss the graduation process, including commencement and convocation; and assist you with post-graduation plans.
    • Apply before the deadline
      Once you’re given the green light to apply, it’s a simple matter of submitting your online application. Be sure you apply by the appropriate deadlines for the semester in which you intend to graduate. For spring graduation, the deadline is Nov. 1.
    • Know your catalog year
      When you apply, you will be asked for your catalog year. This is the academic year in which you declared your major and refers to the set of course requirements you must complete to graduate. A new catalog year begins every fall and ends every summer. Because requirements can change from year to year, it is important that you know your catalog year and select it when running your degree audit and applying for graduation. Your academic advisor can help you identify your catalog year if you are unsure about it.
    • Watch for road blocks: Repeated courses and duplicate transfer credit
      Your academic advisor will review your degree audit with you to check for any repeated courses or duplicate transfer credits. This is important because courses that are counted more than once can make it appear that you have enough credits to graduate, when in fact, you do not. In most cases, the automated process of the degree audit detects repeated or duplicate credits, but occasionally a course is counted twice due to timing, how it is graded or different course numbering from another institution. Once these courses are detected, the repeated or duplicate course is flagged and any equivalent course won’t be counted. Sometimes this doesn’t happen until the final review of your records after the semester, even after you’ve celebrated your graduation.
  1. Honors degrees vs. honors at graduation

    Are you graduating with an honors degree in your major, or do you have an outstanding GPA? Both mean honors, but they are two separate matters. If you are a student in the Honors College pursuing an honors degree, you will meet with your honors academic advisor as well as your faculty thesis advisor to finalize your graduation requirements. You will receive an “honors bachelor’s” degree as indicated on your diploma.“Honors at Graduation” refers to three distinct recognitions that are determined within each college based on the GPAs of the graduating class: Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude.

    • Summa Cum Laude is the top 1 percent of your graduating class based on a five-year average of the top 1 percent in your college.
    • Magna Cum Laude is the next 2.5 percent of your graduating class.
    • Cum Laude is the next 4.5 percent of your graduating class. GPA alone is not enough to qualify for the distinction. You must have completed 60 credit hours at the University of Utah. Be sure that if you have transfer or other credit that your total credit hours from the U are 60 or more.If you meet this criteria you will be recognized in the graduation ceremonies with a cord that indicates your honor. The cords are distributed by the college of your major.
  1. Commencement vs. convocation

    While your degree is conferred at the annual commencement exercises on May, your actual diploma will arrive in the mail following the term of your graduation. If you apply for graduation by the deadline, you will receive an email during spring semester detailing the procedures for commencement and convocation, including how to purchase your cap and gown.

    • Commencement is the university-wide celebration of all graduates and takes place the Thursday evening prior to the college convocations. All graduates are encouraged to attend commencement.
    • Most convocation ceremonies follow commencement on Friday and are held throughout the day in different locations by college. If you have majors in more than one college you may attend more than one convocation. It is at convocation where you will be recognized individually by name and receive your diploma cover.It is important to remember that your transcripts will not be released until all obligations (including financial) to the university have been met.
  1. Life after the U: Career advising

    The reason we refer to graduation as commencement is because it is truly the beginning of the next chapter. It is important you start preparing for that chapter while you are still at the U. If you haven’t already visited Career Services, it is important to do so now. The staff can assist you with everything from career and graduate school exploration to the nuts and bolts of resume writing, interviewing and applying for graduate and professional schools.The center also offers ongoing workshops and hosts two annual career fairs where students can meet national employers from broad ranging industries.Another great benefit of being a U alum is that you also get one year of free career services after your graduate, and beyond that you have access to our Alumni Career Services for life. That is something to celebrate!

  1. Frequently asked questions

    Back to preparing to graduate…You probably have plenty of questions specific to your unique situation. Visit the FAQ link on the Graduation website and reach out to the Graduation Office or your academic advisor for more details.Congratulations graduates-to-be!