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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 14, 2022. Students receiving bachelor’s degrees will be assigned to one of the following ceremonies:

  • Ceremony A: 9:30 a.m.
  • Ceremony B: 2:30 p.m.
  • Ceremony C: 7 p.m.

Visit the Ceremony Assignment tab to review the 2022 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. 

Why are there three indoor ceremonies?

While the university 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 university 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 2022 undergraduate ceremonies will recognize students who complete their degree requirements in December 2021, May 2022 or August 2022, or are expected to complete student teaching, internship, fieldwork, study abroad or another academic requirement that is not completed on or near the Cortland campus in December 2022.

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, 2022.

To view your degree conferral application status please complete the following steps:

  1. Select the STUDENT tab
  2. Select DEGREE CONFERRAL AND GRADUATION on the Registrar channel
Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor to check their eligibility status.

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

Four guest tickets will be allocated to each student. Details regarding the guest tickets process will be shared in March 2022.

When is rehearsal?

Student rehearsal is at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2022, 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 4 p.m. to 5:30 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 2021, diplomas will be mailed in February 2022
  • Winter 2021, diplomas will be mailed in March 2022
  • Spring 2022, diplomas will be mailed in August 2022
  • Summer 2022, diplomas will be mailed in October 2022
  • Fall 2022, diplomas will be mailed in February 2022

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.

How can I sign up for senior portraits?

Fall 2021 senior portrait appointments will be available the week of Nov. 29, 2021–Dec. 3, 2021.

Students can schedule their appointment at by entering school code 87221 or call 1-800-OUR-YEAR™ (687-9327) during normal business hours. 

Portraits will also be taken in cap and gown. Caps and gowns provided. Honors tassels, if applicable, will be available for use.  

Spring 2022 session sign-up will be available at a future date TBD.

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 Record 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 2022 ceremonies honor students who complete their degree requirements in December 2021, May 2022 and August 2022, or are expected to complete student teaching, internship, fieldwork, study abroad or another academic requirement that is not completed on or near the Cortland campus in December 2022.

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.

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 deadline to indicate participation for Commencement. What can I do?

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.

Please note: Students must apply for their degree online using myRedDragon, even if they miss the March 1 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 13, 2022, 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?

Students should report to Corey Gymnasium one hour prior to their ceremony.

Graduates attending Ceremony A should meet in the Corey Gymnasium at 8:30 a.m.; Ceremony B should meet in the Corey Gymnasium at 1:30 p.m.; and Ceremony C should meet in the Corey Gymnasium at 6 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 3"x5" card with their 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 dress accordingly. The general rule is light weight, non-restricting clothes. Business professional or formal attire is recommended, which may include a dress or skirt, dress slacks, a button-down shirt, suit or a tie. Mortarboard (cap) tassels should be worn on the left side throughout the ceremony.

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.  More details will be shared on how students can obtain their Honors tassel.

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


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 Campus 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 May 2022 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.


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, 2022 will have their name listed in the program.


Restrooms are located throughout the Park Center Alumni Arena. 

Tobacco and Nicotine Policy

SUNY Cortland is 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 any other electronic devices during the ceremony.