Frequently Asked Questions about Graduation and Commencement

Pre-Ceremony Questions

Q: What is the difference between Graduation and Commencement?   
A: Graduation is confirmation you have met all degree requirements.  Commencement is an annual ceremony for students who have or are expected to graduate in the current or next semester.

Q: What do I need to do to graduate? Isn’t it automatic?
A: Students who are completing the requirements for graduation in the current term of enrollment should complete an Application for Graduation via HawkNet. You should meet with an academic advisor if you have questions regarding what requirements must be met in order to graduate.

Q: Is there a fee for graduation?
A: No, there is no fee or cost to graduate.

Q: When can I apply for graduation? Is there a deadline?
A:The deadline dates to apply for graduation each year are as follows:
2/15 - Graduate Application Deadline for names to appear in the current academic year Commencement Program
4/15 - Spring Graduation Application Deadline
7/15 - Summer Graduation Application Deadline
11/15 – Fall Graduation Application Deadline

Q: Is there a graduation ceremony (commencement) each term?
A: HCC has only one graduation ceremony (commencement) which takes place on the first Friday in May. Graduates and candidates who graduate during any term in the academic year (September through August) should consider participating.

Q: Where do I go to purchase a cap and gown?
A: The HCC Bookstores located on each campus sell caps and gowns, honor cords and graduation invitations. These items are usually available in late March and the cost varies.  More specific information will be posted each spring.

Q: How will I receive graduation or commencement notices or information?
A: All commencement information is posted on the HCC website by the beginning of April. Graduation notifications will be sent to the student via Hawk email.

Ceremony Questions

Q: Are tickets required for guest to attend the Commencement Ceremony?
A: Tickets are not required, however, graduates are asked to be mindful of the number of guests attending the ceremony as seating is limited. Please encourage guests to arrive early as seating cannot be reserved for guests who arrive late. Doors may be closed when capacity is reached.

Q: How long will the Commencement Ceremony last?
A: The President’s Breakfast for graduates begins at 7:30am and ends at 9:00am (RSVP required). The ceremony processional begins at 9:30am with the ceremony starting at 10:00am. The Commencement Ceremony will last approximately 2 1/2 hours. Graduates are expected to remain for the entire ceremony.

Q: Can I decorate my cap?
A: Yes.  Caps can be decorated as long as there is no profane, vulgar, offensive or other inappropriate content displayed. Items attached to the caps cannot obstruct the view of hinder the enjoyment of the ceremony for other graduates or guests in anyway.  You will be asked to remedy or remove any decorations deemed as inappropriate and may be prohibited from participating in the ceremony.

Q: Will there be an area for my personal belongings?
A: No. There is no area for you to store personal items during the ceremony.  Please make arrangements to secure your belongings before entering the Expo Hall. 

Q: Can guests bring cameras into the Entertainment Hall
A: Yes.  Guests can bring cameras/video cameras.  Air horns, balloons or any items that will obstruct the view or prevent other guests from hearing the ceremony are not allowed.

Post-Ceremony Questions

Q: When will I receive my diploma?
A: Diplomas are printed and mailed approximately eight to twelve weeks after a student has been graduated. It is the responsibility of the student to have a correct permanent address on file Updates can be made at:
Q: If I lost my diploma or HCC did not have my current address, can I order a replacement diploma?
A: Yes, you may complete the Duplicate Diploma Request Form and follow the instructions for processing.
Q: How do I prove I have a degree?
A: An official transcript with the student's degree credential is the only legal document.  The diploma is a wall display for decorative or ceremonial purposes.