1. What is the difference between a degree and a diploma?

A degree is an academic title given to a student who has completed a prescribed curriculum, such as Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

A diploma is the paper document showing that you have earned your degree. 

2. What is the difference between graduation and commencement?

Graduation is when the College reviews your record and, if you have met all the requirements, adds a degree statement to your transcript.

Commencement is the ceremony held each year at the end of the spring semester.  For the 2020-2021 academic year, we are hosting a virtual recognition of our graduating students.

3. I graduated in the prior year (the previous summer, fall, or winter). Can I participate in the commencement ceremony?

Please contact graduation@jjay.cuny.edu and we will get back to you! 

4. When should I apply for graduation?

In order to have the College review your record and post a degree statement to your transcript, you must submit an application before the date of the degree. Applications received after each semester’s degree date will be processed the following term.

Students wishing to participate in Commencement must file their application for degree no later than March 31. The exact date will be posted on the online academic calendar. 

5. How do I submit my application for graduation?

You apply for graduation via your CUNY First account.  Visit the Apply for Graduation page for step by step instructions

6. I want to participate in the commencement ceremony, but I still need to take one or two classes in the summer. What can I do?

If you are within two courses of your degree, you may participate in the Commencement ceremony if you do all of the following:

a. Register for your final course(s) before May 1st.

b. Apply for graduation before May 1st.

If you have more than two courses to finish this summer, you cannot participate in this year's ceremony and will be scheduled to walk in next year's ceremony.

7. What is included in the cap and gown package?

For undergraduate students, the package includes a cap, gown and tassel.  For masters students, the package includes a cap, gown, hood and tassel.

In ceremonial traditions, bachelor's level regalia consists of a black gown. To distinguish between bachelor's and master's levels, master's level graduates have long, extended sleeves and a hood.

Historically, the master’s hood is a representation of the hooded robes that were worn by medieval monks who taught in early universities. In modern times, hoods are used to represent a master's level degree and higher. Doctoral level regalia includes the gown, a hood and three velvet bars on each sleeve.

The other time(s) hoods may be used in bachelor's regalia is when a university has different colleges within its institution (i.e. the college of arts, college of dentistry etc.) which John Jay College does not have. John Jay College is adhering to ceremonial official protocol.

John Jay College is proud to preserve this ceremonial tradition for graduates of our institution. If you would like more information about academic regalia, please refer to the American Council on Education’s website, which can be accessed here.  

8. I applied for graduation, but now my plans have changed and I want to defer my graduation to a later term. What can I do?

Just send an email from your John Jay email account to registraraudit@jjay.cuny.edu. Let us know what semester you want to graduate. 

9. I would like to make a slight change to the name on my diploma. Can I add my middle name?

Sure, you can! Just send an email from your John Jay email account to registraraudit@jjay.cuny.edu. Let us know how you’d like your name to appear on your diploma. Be sure to let us know if your name has any extra spaces or accent marks.

Certain name changes may require documentation. We will let you know if that is the case. 

10. What name will appear on my diploma?

The name on your diploma will be what appears on your CUNYFirst record. Any name change must be officially changed at Jay Express. This must be done before the end of the semester in which the student is expected to finish.

A requested name change after a diploma has been printed will carry a $30.00 charge. 

11. After I have applied for graduation, will there be any updates from the College?

Yes, you will receive a notification telling you what we discovered when we audited your record and what your next steps are.  You can also check your application status in CUNY First yourself, in the same section where you applied!

If all of your degree requirements are satisfied (or you are registered for the last remaining requirements), you will receive an email with an attachment indicating that you are on track. If you successfully complete the last courses you are taking, we will record your degree.

If our audit shows that some requirements are missing, your email will let you know what those requirements are and what you must do in order to graduate. 

12. I worked really hard, and I have a really good GPA. Will I receive any honors

ONLY undergraduate students are eligible for honors. To be eligible, you must complete at least 56 credits at the College. If you entered with an associate degree, you qualify if you complete at least 52 credits at the College. All courses taken at John Jay and elsewhere are used to compute the honors.

Breakdowns are as follows:

Summa cum laude (with highest distinction), awarded to students whose cumulative grade point average is at least 3.9.

Magna cum laude (with great distinction), awarded to students whose cumulative grade point average is at least 3.75.

Cum laude (with distinction), awarded to students who cumulative grade point average is at least 3.5. 

13. What if I have an incomplete (INC) or a failing grade (F) on my record? What if I need to drop one of my required classes this semester?

You do not need to reapply. However, if you are missing any graduation requirements—if you do not have a passing grade in every required class—your degree will not be posted. We will keep your degree application on file, and as soon as you pass the required classes, we will notify you of your next steps. 

13. When can I get my diploma?

Diplomas are ready about three months after the degree has been conferred. It takes a few months to review everyone’s records and verify names. The College will be mailing out diplomas for graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic.  You will be emailed regarding that.

Your diploma will not be released to you if you have a balance on your account.

14.I can not wait that long for a diploma! I have a great job offer and my employer needs to know that I have graduated!

No problem! Most employers prefer transcripts anyway, and those are ready as soon as your degree is conferred. You may order your transcript online.

If your employer will not accept a transcript, we will write a verification letter letting your prospective employer know that you have met all of the requirements for your degree. If you need such a letter, send an email from your John Jay email account to the Registrar's Office at  registraraudit@jjay.cuny.edu

15. I graduated a few semesters ago, and I think I have lost my diploma. Can I get another one?

Easy! If you still have your John Jay email account, send a note from that account to the Registrar's Office at  registraraudit@jjay.cuny.edu. We will let you know what you need to do. If you do not have a John Jay email account, you may send a letter through the U.S. Mail or stop by in person. There is a $30 reprinting fee. 

16. Who can I talk to in order to verify that I am on the right track to graduate?

Make an appointment with an academic counselor (Academic Advisement Center, L.73.12NB). A counselor will assist you with the various aspects of your degree. 

17. What if I have more questions about participating in the actual commencement ceremony?

The division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs is responsible for commencement. Contact them at graduation@jjay.cuny.edu or check out the graduation web page. You are also encouraged to subscribe to our Commencement Newsletter for up-to-date updates, reminders and general information concerning Commencement. 

18. How do I get my graduation portraits into the yearbook?

The deadline to submit your yearbook photo is January 8th. The deadline for submitting to the Community Upload page is March 5th. 

To make an appointment with Thornton Studios, go to thorntonstudio.com and use code studio.

19. Are there any deadlines I should know about?

Yes! Please check the John Jay Commencement website for any upcoming deadlines, and sign up for the commencement newsletter for regular updates.

20. When and where is commencment this year?

We will not be hosting a in person commencement ceremony this year per the CUNY Chancellor's announcement.  This year we will be hosting a virtual recognition.  We will be updating the website with logistics soon.