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Applying to Graduate

The application for December graduates is now closed.

When you apply to graduate, you inform Penn that you expect your diploma to be conferred for a given semester (spring, summer or fall). The system will reopen for spring and summer graduates in the spring term. All students will be notified when the spring application becomes available.

Ph.D. Students

** Please note you will be provided the link to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences application upon completion of the GSE application**

Ed.D., M.Phil.Ed and M.S.Ed. Students

The GSE Ceremony

The GSE commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 16, 2020, at 9am in the Palestra, 233 S. 33rd  St.,  which is directly north of Franklin Field. Grads will register and line up for the processional in the Rockwell Gym of the Tse Center (Formerly Hutchinson Gym). Please refer to this diagram of the Palestra for a visual orientation.

We strongly recommend that you allow sufficient time to arrive early: It's also alumni weekend so traffic around campus will be heavily congested.

Doors of the Palestra will open for guest seating at 7:30am. Graduates should arrive at 7:45am for registration. The processional will begin at 8:45am, and the ceremony will end at 11:00am.  You may bring an unlimited number of guests to the GSE ceremony. Tickets are NOT required for either the GSE ceremony or the reception.

The ceremony will begin with a welcome from the Dean, followed by the  commencement address given by our Commencement speaker. After the keynote address & award presentations, each doctoral student will be called onto the stage to be hooded by the advisor/chair and have the degree conferred.

Then each master's student will be called onto the stage and have the degree conferred. After descending the stage, please pause for a photo taken by a professional photographer.  After the degrees have been conferred, graduates and guests are invited to a reception on campus.

The Reception

The reception will be held immediately after the ceremony in Penn Commons. Updates will be provided as details become available.


Academic regalia is required for degree candidates at Commencement. Regalia can be ordered from the Penn Bookstore. All graduates must purchase or rent regalia to participate in the graduation festivities. Doctoral students have the option to either purchase or rent their regalia, while all other students should purchase their regalia.  Be sure to check that you receive the correct hood for your degree when you pick up your regalia. If you arrive for the ceremony with the wrong hood it will be too late to rectify the matter.

**See how regalia should be worn**

The Hood

The hoods are lined in silk with the official color or colors of the institution which granted the highest degree held by the wearer; more than one color is shown by division of the field color in a variety of ways, such as by chevron or chevrons. University of Pennsylvania graduates wear a hood lined in red with a blue chevron. The binding or edging of the hood is in velvet, with widths of two inches, three inches and five inches for the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees respectively; the color of the border indicates the field of study to which the degree pertains. 

You must bring/wear your regalia to the Palestra to participate in the ceremony. We do NOT have spare caps and gowns. Only students with the correct regalia may participate in the ceremony.

Articles of clothing which will be visible at the neck and below the gown should be in keeping with the conservative style of the academic attire. We do not recommend high heels as the ramps inside the facility, which is where you will process in, are very steep. The hood should be secured so that it will not slip off the shoulders - you should bring a safety pin for this purpose. The cap, which needs bobby pins to stay on your head, is worn parallel to the ground; the tassel is worn in front and on the right side until the degree has been conferred. 


Diplomas are mailed by the University via First Class mail and will be sent to the permanent address listed in Penn-in-Touch, unless a different address is specified in the “Temporary Address Field” effective from June 1 – July 15. Addresses should be updated in Penn-in-Touch no later than June 1. International diplomas can take up to eight weeks for delivery. To arrange for expedited mailing or to pick up the diploma, contact the Diploma Coordinator by June 1. Learn more about diplomas and replacement diplomas. 

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

The Palestra is accessible to persons with disabilities. Doors for the accessible seating area will open at 7:15 a.m. We recommend that guests with disabilities arrive at the 33rd Street entrance, where they will be directed to the accessible seating area. Accessible seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis. Only one escort is permitted to sit with the guest with disabilities.


We strongly recommend that all attendees arrive early and allow ample time for parking. Learn more about parking lot locations.

University Commencement 

The University Commencement Ceremony will be held on Monday, May 18th in Franklin Field at 10:15am, and will be preceded by student and academic processions through campus. The ceremony will feature the conferral of degrees, the awarding of honorary degrees, greetings by University officials, and remarks by the Commencement speaker, who will be announced soon. Graduates, families and friends can find more information regarding the University Commencement and graduation activities on the University of Pennsylvania Commencement page or by calling (215) 573-GRAD (4723).

To view multimedia highlights from the May 20, 2019 ceremony please visit the Commencement Webcast & Multimedia Archives page.

Graduation Announcements

The University supplies each graduating student with 8 announcements and envelopes for the University-wide ceremony, NOT the GSE ceremony, for mailing to family and friends. These invitations are available at the 1st floor reception desk GSE, 3700 Walnut Street in early April. Graduates may bring an unlimited number of guests to the University Commencement Ceremony and tickets are not required.

Graduation FAQs

Are tickets required for the ceremony?
Tickets are not required to attend the GSE ceremony.

Why do I need to apply to graduate?
Students must apply to graduate to be eligible for the conferral of their degree and issuance of their diploma. Your degree will not be conferred if you don’t apply to graduate by the deadline in the GSE academic calendar. Students who wish to participate in the May commencement ceremony must also indicate their RSVP on the application. 

Bookmark where there are links to  "Apply to graduate" and "Commencement." Please check these pages for all the most current information; we frequently update them.

What about my diploma?
Diplomas are mailed by the University via First Class mail and will be sent to the permanent address listed in Penn-in-Touch, unless a different address is specified in the “Temporary Address Field” effective from June 1-July 15.   Addresses should be updated in Penn-in-Touch no later than June 1. International diplomas can take up to eight weeks for delivery. To arrange for expedited mailing or to pick up the diploma, contact the Diploma Coordinator by June 1. Learn more about Diplomas and Replacement Diplomas.

What happens to my GSE email account?
Your Penn GSE email addresses is available for at least six months after graduation (but possibly longer depending on the cycle). GSE's IT staff will send out notifications a few months in advance of starting any account deletion process.

As a Penn alum, you are eligible for an Alumni account and forwarding address (not an email account). Thus, your current email account can be forwarded to an email account of your choosing. For example, your PennGSE emails can be forwarded to your personal GMAIL account after graduation. Sign up for an Alumni account here.  

Can I march in the GSE spring commencement ceremony if I will graduate in August? 
Students who will receive their degrees in August may participate in the May ceremony if they meet the following requirements based on their degree category:

Master's Students:

  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, AND
  • Have completed 8 course units of a 10 course unit program, 9 units of an 11 unit program, or 10 units of a 12 unit program, OR
  • Passed the comprehensive examination, thesis, or portfolio. 

Doctoral Students:

  • Plan to deposit your dissertation by the appropriate August deadlines respective to the Ed.D. or Ph.D. deadlines

If your question is not answered here, please email or call 215-898-6456 for questions regarding the Penn GSE ceremony. For questions regarding the Penn ceremony, please contact the Commencement Coordinator at either (215)898-7005 or

*Email and PennCard After Graduation

Please note that your GSE student email address will expire approximately six months after your graduation date. Any other internal GSE IT resources and access, as well as Penn Card access, will expire immediately following your graduation.

Contact the Penn GSE Office of Student Services

Office of Student Services

Ann Tiao

Assistant Dean of Student Services
(215) 898-7019

Imani Harvin

Associate Director of Student Services 
(215) 898-6456