FAQs for Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate Commencement FAQ

When and where are the ceremonies?

All undergraduate ceremonies are located in Park Center Alumni Arena and will take place Saturday, May 15, 2021. Students receiving bachelor’s degrees will be assigned to one of the following ceremonies:

Ceremony A: 9:30 a.m.

Ceremony B: 2 p.m.

Ceremony C: 6 p.m.

The following lists indicate which departments will be represented at each ceremony.

2021 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony Assignments

Student ceremony assignments are based on the department of their primary major. Students may refer to the Student Information Summary available in the Student Links channel of myRedDragon to determine their primary and secondary major departments. 

Note: The assignment of departments to a particular ceremony will rotate each year however; ceremony assignments for departments also may vary depending on fluctuations in departmental enrollment. Departments will be assigned to a specific ceremony by Oct. 15 each academic year.

Why are there three indoor ceremonies?

While the College has held Commencement outside in the past, erratic and unreliable spring weather as well as the exorbitant cost of an outdoor ceremony are factors in the decision to use an indoor venue.

The College is unable to accommodate the number of students and guests who wish to attend Commencement in only two ceremonies due to fire code regulations for Park Center Alumni Arena.

Why can’t the ceremonies be split by school?

The varying size of the schools does not allow an even distribution. For example, the School of Arts and Sciences generally accounts for one-half of all graduates.

Who is eligible?

The May 2021 undergraduate ceremonies will recognize students who complete their degree requirements in December 2020, May 2021 or August 2021.

Degree conferral and participation in Commencement ceremonies are different. To graduate, students must apply for their degree regardless of whether they plan to participate in a Commencement ceremony.

Students apply for their degree in myRedDragon. To be included in the Commencement program, they must do so by March 1, 2021.

All students must be graduating within the current 2020-2021 academic year (Fall 2020 to Summer 2021). If a student can demonstrate that the only remaining requirements to be completed in Fall 2021 are student teaching, internship, fieldwork, study abroad, or another academic requirement that is not completed on or near the Cortland campus; they may petition to participate to walk in Spring 2021. The Petition to Walk form can be found on the Commencement channel on the myRedDragon Student tab in Spring 2021 semester.  Upon successful verification, those students will be notified and added to the participation list for the May ceremony.

Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor to check eligibility status.

When will guest e-tickets be available and how many are available?

  • Students will select their guest e-tickets through an online process beginning at 9 a.m. on March 3, 2021 and the system will remain open until March 17, 2021. This information, along with detailed instructions, will be emailed to the student’s Cortland account in late Feb. It also will be posted on the Commencement website.

  • Undergraduate students are allotted up to four guest e-tickets and one student line-up ticket. There is no cost for tickets; however, there is an $11.50 fee for the required diploma cover.

  • The Special Events Office does not have additional guest e-tickets available. However, guests without tickets may view the ceremony in numerous overflow viewing locations in Park Center.

  • Guest e-tickets are nontransferable between ceremony times.

When is rehearsal?

Student rehearsal is at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 14, 2021, in Park Center Alumni Arena.

Will there be a reception for all ceremonies?

Two open receptions honoring our undergraduates will be held in Lusk Field House from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:30 to 5 p.m.  Students and guests may attend either of these receptions.

When will I receive my diploma?

Diplomas are mailed to students approximately 10 to 12 weeks after all degree requirements are met, including student teaching, internships, fieldwork and comprehensive exams. Students who completed degree requirements in:

  • Fall 2019, diplomas were mailed in February 2020
  • Winter 2020, diplomas were mailed in March 2020
  • Spring 2020, diplomas will be mailed in August 2020
  • Summer 2020, diplomas will be mailed in October 2020
  • Fall 2020, diplomas will be mailed in February 2021

Degrees post to official transcripts on the date the degree is verified. If you order transcripts prior to your conferral date, they will only list the courses you have taken without the degree date and the awarded degree. You have the option of "holding transcripts" until the degree is awarded when ordering online. There is a header title called "Degrees Awarded" on the official transcript and the online academic history (unofficial transcript). For additional information, please contact Student Registration and Record Services.

Where can answers to additional questions be found?

Questions regarding the degree conferral application, including questions about a current application, may be directed to Student Registration and Records Services.

Questions regarding Student Line-Up Tickets/Guest Tickets/Overflow Viewing and any special circumstances may be emailed to Undergraduate Commencement.

Participation Information

Who may participate?

SUNY Cortland has only one Commencement weekend annually. The May 2019 ceremonies honor students who complete their degree requirements in Dec. 2018, May 2019 and Aug. 2019. 

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 is March 1, 2019.

Once at myRedDragon, do the following:

  1. Type in ID and password
  2. Select “Student" tab and go to the Registrar column
  3. Select “Degree Conferral and Commencement”
  4. Select “Apply for Degree Conferral”

I missed the March 1, 2020 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, 2020 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.

Please note: Students must apply for their degree online using myRedDragon, even if they miss the March 1, 2020 deadline.

I am a dual major. When is my ceremony?

Student ceremony assignments are based on the department of their primary major. Students may refer to the Student Information Summary available in the Student Links channel of myRedDragon to determine their primary and secondary major departments.

  1. Log in to myRedDragon
  2. Select the Academics tab
  3. Select the "Registrar" Channel
  4. Select "Student Information Summary"

Is there a rehearsal for the ceremonies?

Yes! Rehearsal for Undergraduate Commencement is held on Friday, May 15, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. in the Park Center Alumni Arena. All students are strongly encouraged to attend.  

What time should I be at Park Center on Commencement day?

Graduates attending Ceremony A should meet in the Corey Gymnasium at 8:30 a.m., Ceremony B should meet in the Corey Gymnasium at 1 p.m. and Ceremony C should meet in the Corey Gymnasium at 5 p.m. 

How long will the ceremony last?

The length of the ceremony is approximately one and a half to two hours.

How will the degrees be conferred?

Degrees are conferred prior to 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 conferral, 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 by 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 rows on the floor of the 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, pause for their photo, and return to student seating.

Will faculty be there?

Faculty members look forward to attending. Students are encouraged to invite their favorite faculty or staff members to attend.

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 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.

Graduates do not purchase their Honors Tassel. Staff from the Student Registration and Record Services distributes tassels beginning around May 1.

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 FAQs

Ambulance

An ambulance will be stationed outside the Park Center Alumni Arena.

Emergency Exits

In case of an emergency, flag a marshal, Commencement 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 from 8:30 a.m.- 8:30 p.m outside of the Corey Gymnasium. Flower arrangements include bouquets of half dozen and full dozen roses, as well as open presentation. A wide variety of commencement related gifts including diploma frames will be available as well. The College Store, located in Neubig Hall, will also be open for additional purchases from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Guest Assistance

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

Students or guests with an accessibility request need to arrange their accommodations by filling out the online registration form. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the special events coordinator at 607-753-2377 or email them regarding the undergraduate ceremony or the graduate ceremony.

Note: Please submit all requests for accommodations by Friday, April 24, 2020 so that proper arrangements can be made.

Lost and Found

For lost and found items, contact the University Police Department, Whitaker Hall, Room 110607-753-2112.

Programs

Official Commencement programs will be distributed at the entrances to the Park Center Alumni Arena and in overflow viewing rooms. All eligible graduates who apply for their degree by March 1, 2020 will have their name listed in the program.

Restrooms

Restrooms are located throughout the Park Center Alumni Arena. 

Smoking

SUNY Cortland is a Tobacco Free Campus. Smoking is not permitted anywhere inside campus buildings or on campus grounds.

Telephones

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 any other electronic devices during the ceremony.