Bookmark and Share

FAQs for Undergraduate Students

Participation Information

Who may participate?

The May ceremonies will honor students who complete their degree requirements in May, Aug. and Dec. 2014. Students who completed their degree requirements in Dec. 2013 may also participate if they have disclosed their intent with the Registrar’s Office. There is no fall ceremony for Aug. or Dec. graduates.

How do I apply for my degree and indicate participation in the ceremony?

Students should first meet with their advisor to verify eligibility for graduation in the fall semester or early spring semester prior to the ceremony. Students can apply for their degree and indicate participation in the May ceremony through myRedDragon. The deadline for indicating participation in the ceremony in March 1.

Once at myRedDragon, do the following:

  1. Type in ID and password
  2. Select “Student" tab and go to the Registrar column
  3. Select “Graduation and Commencement Menu”
  4. Select “Degree and Diploma Application”

I missed the March 1 deadline to indicate participation for Commencement. What can I do about it?

Students can still apply for their degree and indicate participation in the ceremony; however, those who apply for their degree after March 1 may not have their name appear in the program. All students who attend the Commencement ceremonies will have their names read, regardless of being in the program or not.  

Students must apply for their degree online using myRedDragon, even if they miss the March 1 deadline.  

When do I select my ceremony time?

The first opportunity for graduates to select the ceremony in which they'd like to participate and to obtain Commencement tickets is March 24. 

On March 24 (timing TBD) the link will go live and you will be able to select your Commencement Ceremony.  Please note, as in the past, Ceremony selection (A at 9:30 a.m. or B at 2:30 p.m.) is on a first come, first served basis.  You will only have access to this site if you have applied for graduation. In order to participate in Commencement you must purchase a diploma cover through the online ticketing process.  The diploma cover is linked to your Student Line-Up Ticket (which you must bring with you the day of Commencement).  The diploma cover will be handed to you as you walk across the stage.  Please have a credit card ready. As March 24th gets closer, you will receive a detailed check list outlining the steps to select your Commencement Ceremony and all items you must purchase in order to participate in Commencement.   

I have registered for one ceremony, but I would like to switch to the other ceremony. What do I do?

Students who have registered for one ceremony, but would like to switch to the other ceremony must contact the Special Events Coordinator for the President's Office at 607-753-5453 or

When and where are the ceremonies?

Commencement takes place on Saturday, May 17, in the Park Center Alumni Arena. Graduates have their choice of attending either the morning or afternoon ceremony:

  • Bachelor’s Degree Ceremony A: 9:30 a.m. 
  • Bachelor’s Degree Ceremony B: 2:30 p.m.

Arena doors will open one hour prior to each ceremony. Park Center is open throughout the day.

Is there a rehearsal for the ceremonies?

Yes!  Rehearsal for Undergraduate Commencement is held on Friday, May 16 at 2:30 p.m. in the Park Center Alumni Arena.  All students are strongly encouraged to attend.  

What time should I be at the Park Center, Corey Gymnasium, on Commencement Day?

Graduates attending Ceremony A should report to Park Center Corey Gymnasium in gowns at 8:30 a.m. Those attending Ceremony B should report to Park Center Corey Gymnasium in gowns at 1:30 p.m.

How long will the ceremony last?

The processions will begin promptly at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The length of the ceremony is approximately two hours.

How will the degrees be conferred?

Degrees are conferred prior the students crossing the stage. Each Dean will acknowledge the candidates by School and degree and then the President will confer the degrees all at once. This is when the students will officially move their tassel across their cap. Following the conferal, all students will be announced individually.

An hour before the Commencement ceremony, students will check in at the Park Center Corey Gymnasium. They will receive a three-inch x five-inch card with his or her first and last name. Students then choose a row to line up in and may line up with their friends. They will remain in this order as they proceed into the Park Center Alumni Arena.

As students reach the stage, they will hand the card received at check-in to the person at the microphone, who will read the student's name. Two readers are positioned at the top of the ramp and will alternate reading the student names. Those with names that might be difficult to pronounce are asked to write a phonetic pronunciation of your name when you check-in prior to the ceremony AND give the reader the correct pronunciation just before the name is read.

The students’ names and “special person” designations are read as they cross the stage. Students will first receive a congratulatory handshake from the President.  Students will then cross the stage and just before exiting will receive a diploma cover from one of the Deans.  Students will exit down the opposite ramp and return to student seating.

Will faculty be there?

Each department is encouraged to have as many faculty members participate as possible. In the past, approximately 50 percent have attended. Students can help by inviting their favorite faculty or staff members to attend during the online ticketing process.

What should I wear with my cap and gown?

Commencement is a formal ceremony, so students are asked to dress accordingly. The general rule is light weight, non-restricting clothes. Men do not have to wear jackets, but should wear a shirt and tie. Students are requested not to wear shorts, overalls, sandals or sneakers. Mortarboard (cap) tassels should be worn on the left side throughout the ceremony. Once degrees are conferred, the president will ask all students to switch their tassels from the left to the right.

Am I graduating with honors from SUNY Cortland?

Students grade point averages (GPA) calculated as of Feb. 1 determine the SUNY Cortland honors distinction.

Once the end-of-school GPA is determined after the ceremony, allowing for the incorporation of the Spring 2014 grades, the Honors distinction is then recorded and displayed on the official transcript.

  • A GPA between 3.2-3.499 will receive a white tassel and graduate cum laude.
  • A GPA between 3.5-3.749 will receive a red and white tassel and graduate magna cum laude.
  • A GPA of 3.75 and above will receive a red tassel and graduate summa cum laude.

It is not necessary to purchase the honors tassel. Staff from the Registrar’s Office distributes them at Commencement rehearsal and on Commencement day.  If, as of Feb. 1, a student’s GPA did not qualify for the honors distinction as noted above, the student will wear the SUNY Cortland black tassel. However, if after the calculation of the end-of-school GPA (calculated after the ceremony) meets the honors GPA, the honors distinction is then recorded and displayed on the official transcript. 

Please note:  Various departments and honor societies also have honors distinctions and may distribute cords or tassels to be worn during Commencement.  Students need to inquire with their department chair or advisor to verify if there is an honors distinction specifically for their major/program. 

General Information


An ambulance will be stationed in the northwest parking lot of the Park Center, near the overhead door to Alumni Arena.

Emergency Exits

In case of an emergency, flag a marshal, student usher or a university police officer and proceed to the nearest exit in an orderly manner.

Flowers and Commencement-Related Gifts

Flowers and Commencement-related items will be available for purchase on the second floor of the Park Center outside Corey Gymnasium from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. during both ceremonies. Flower arrangements include bouquets of half dozen and full dozen roses, as well as open presentation. Cameras, batteries, diploma frames, class rings, watercolor prints of the campus and other Commencement gift items will be available as well. The College Store, located in Neubig Hall, will also be open for additional purchases from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Guest Assistance

Faculty and staff marshals, student ushers and university police officers are available at all times for assistance and information. Faculty and staff marshals will be wearing Commencement regalia, the student ushers will be in polo shirts and khaki pants, and University Police officers will be in full uniform.

Students with family members with mobility impairments or hearing impairments should arrange seating by filling out the online form that will be available the week of February 24, 2014. 

Lost and Found

For lost and found items, contact the University Police Department, Van Hoesen Hall, Room C-17, 607-753-4123.


Official Commencement programs will be distributed at the entrances to the Park Center Alumni Arena. All eligible graduates who apply for their degree by March 1 will have their name listed in the program.


Restrooms are located on all levels of the Park Center Alumni Arena and signs will mark their locations.


Effective January 1, 2013, SUNY Cortland became a Tobacco Free Campus.  Smoking is not permitted anywhere inside campus buildings or on campus grounds.


Emergency phones are located throughout the entire campus and are identified by blue lights above the phones. University police are equipped for emergency communication as well. Guests are reminded to turn off all cell phones and beepers during the ceremony.


In order to adhere to the Fire and Safety Code, every guest attending the Commencement ceremonies in the Arena must have a guest ticket. The number of tickets distributed is based upon the Fire and Safety Code, which clearly indicates the number of people we can safely accommodate in the Park Center Alumni Arena. Each student is given four guest tickets. 

Students will receive a total of five tickets — one student line-up ticket and four guest tickets. Students should not dispose of the student line-up ticket as they will need this ticket to enter Corey Gymnasium to participate in the Commencement ceremony.

Please note all Undergraduate Commencement tickets will be scanned at the door. The unique bar code on this ticket allows only one entry to the event. The first copy of an E-Ticket (if there are multiple copies made) to arrive at the event will gain entry after scanning and validation. Other copies of this ticket will be denied entry. You should handle this E-Ticket as you would any other valuable or cash.  Please be very cautious if someone offers to sell you this document--it has no official resale value and may be an unauthorized copy.