Graduation and Commencement

I am graduating at the end of this semester. Is there anything I need to do?

If you plan to graduate at the end of the term, you must indicate your intention to do so in the Student Center within your MyUW portal. The DoIT graduation tutorial will show you exactly what you need to do. Once you indicate your intention to graduate, you will receive information about the Commencement ceremony as well as how to order your cap and gown and Honors regalia.

How do I get my Honors Stole and Comprehensive Honors Medal?

The Honors Stole — All Honors degree candidates. The University Bookstore keeps a list of Honors degree candidates, so when Honors degree candidates pick up their caps and gowns, they can also request an Honors Stole (white with cardinal bars). Please note that the Honors Stole requires a deposit.

The Comprehensive Honors Medal — Comprehensive Honors degree candidates only.  Students who will graduate with the Comprehensive Honors degree will also receive the Comprehensive Honors Medal. Once Honors advisors verify a student’s eligibility for the Comprehensive Honors degree, they will send the student a confirmation note by email with instructions on where to pick up the medal prior to the Commencement ceremony.

Is there someone I can talk to, or somewhere I can go, to make sure that I’m actually, really, truly going to graduate?

Certainly! Please email the Honors advisor account or schedule an appointment with an Honors academic advisor if you have any questions or concerns about completing Honors-specific graduation requirements. You may also choose to connect with major and certificate advisors to verify you have completed all requirements.

Is there somewhere where I can learn about all-things graduation and commencement?

Why, yes there is! There’s a whole day event called Countdown to Commencement. On that day, you’ll be able to reserve your cap and gown; contribute to a senior class gift; find out about various Test Prep courses; have your graduation photo taken; order diploma frames, announcements and class rings; find out about student loan consolidation; order a Badger Yearbook; and much more.

Check out the Commencement website for general information about the Commencement Ceremony and check out the Countdown to Commencement website for more information about this preparatory event.

I received a deficiency notice from the Academic Information Management (AIM) Office. What do I do now?

Students who have outstanding requirements listed on their DARS after they have applied to graduate can expect to receive an email from the AIM Office notifying them of their graduation deficiencies.

If you are notified of deficiencies in your Honors in the Liberal Arts degree, we recommend that you come in to see an Honors academic advisor as soon as possible. Sometimes DARS is not entirely accurate; an academic advisor can work with you to make sure that DARS is applying all of your Honors experiences appropriately toward your degree requirements. If it is not, we can help fix the problem. If your DARS is correct, Honors advisors will help you determine ways forward.

If you receive notification of deficiencies in your Honors in the Major degree, we recommend that you meet with your advisor in your major department as soon as possible. Your major advisor will work with you to resolve any problems with your record.

Do Honors candidates receive special recognition on commencement day?  

Yes, they do! And in several ways:

  • The Commencement Program. Students earning any kind of L&S Honors degree who apply to graduate prior to the deadline — whether Honors in Liberal Arts (HLA), Honors in the Major (HM) or Comprehensive Honors (CM) — are listed as “Honors Candidates” in the Commencement Program. (No distinction is made in the Program between the HLA, HM, and CM.)
  • Honors Regalia. Students earning any kind of L&S Honors degree wear unique Honors regalia with their cap and gown: the Honors Stole (white with three cardinal bars).  Students earning Comprehensive Honors degrees also wear the Comprehensive Honors Medal.
  • The L&S Honors Program Reception. Honors candidates who are celebrating commencement in December or May are invited to attend a reception in celebration of their college achievements on the weekend of graduation. Graduates and their guests are welcome to enjoy light refreshments, conversation and brief addresses by the Dean of the College of Letters & Science and the Director of the Honors Program. The ceremony also includes the presentation of select awards. The Honors Program will announce the date, time, and location of the Honors Program ceremony as Commencement Weekend approaches.

I finished my Senior Honors Thesis! What do I do with it now?

Congratulations! The L&S Honors Program requests that any student who received an L&S Honors Program grant to support their thesis project deposit one unbound copy to the Honors Program in the Washburn Observatory or submit an electronic copy (PDF preferred) to Please include your name, contact information after graduation, the name of the Honors grant you were awarded, and a brief description of your thesis.

What’s the difference between “Honors” and “Distinction”?

“Honors” is an actual degree, whereas “Distinction” is a scholastic award.

  • To be eligible for Honors, students must be formally accepted into an Honors degree program and have successfully completed the requirements for the degree. Students who complete one or more Honors degrees are eligible to wear the Honors Stole (white with cardinal red stripes) during commencement exercises. The Honors degree will also appear on student transcripts and diplomas.
  • To be eligible for Distinction, students must complete 60 or more credits at UW-Madison and earn a cumulative grade point average that places them within the top 20 percent of their graduating class. Students who receive this award are eligible to wear the Distinction Stole (solid cardinal red) during commencement exercises.  “Graduation with Distinction” will appear on student transcripts.

Honors degree candidates are often also eligible for the “Graduation with Distinction” award. The Honors degree–because it is an actual degree–is the higher “honor”; therefore, for commencement exercises, students graduating with both an Honors degree and with Distinction should wear the Honors Stole (white with cardinal red bars), rather than the Distinction stole (solid cardinal red). 

The grade for my 682 course (Senior Honors Thesis, semester 2) has been posted, but on my student record my 681 course (Senior Honors Thesis, semester 1) still carries a grade of “P”? How can I get this fixed?

The Registrar’s Office does an audit for the 681/682 sequence and will automatically convert your P to the correct letter grade within days of the end of the semester. Your final, official transcript will show your earned letter grade. If it does not after your diploma arrives in the mail, contact the Registrar’s Office to inquire.