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5.7.1 Conferral of Degrees: Policy

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Last updated on:
Friday, March 11, 2022


Defines requirements and procedures for the conferral of graduate degrees and for participation in commencement ceremonies.


Graduate degrees are conferred by the authority of the Senate of the Academic Council upon the recommendation of the Committee on Graduate Studies and the faculty of the degree program. 


Upon recommendation to the Senate of the Academic Council by the faculty of the relevant degree programs and the Committee on Graduate Studies, graduate degrees are awarded four times each year, at the conclusion of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer terms. All diplomas, however, are prepared and awarded in Spring quarter.



All matriculated graduate students and programs.

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5.7.2 Conferral of Degrees: Implementation

1. Application to Graduate

Students must apply for conferral of a graduate degree by filing an Application to Graduate by the deadline for each term. The deadlines are published in the Time Schedule. A separate application must be filed for each degree program and for each conferral term. Applications are filed through Axess. 

Students who miss the deadline for filing their Application to Graduate in Axess must contact their department student services officer or the Student Services Center for assistance. There is a processing fee for a late application to graduate.  

Requests for conferral are reviewed by the Office of the Registrar and the student’s degree program to verify completion of degree requirements. 

The Office of the Registrar is responsible for producing final recommending lists, based on students’ applications to graduate, for review by degree programs. Degree programs are responsible for verifying and signing recommending lists to the Office of the Registrar by the deadline for each quarter’s graduation. 

Students must be registered in the term of degree conferral. Students with unmet financial obligations resulting in the placement of a hold on their registration cannot receive a transcript, statement of completion, degree certificate, or diploma until the hold is released by the Student Financial Services office (see GAP 5.5 Enrollment Holds). 

Students are typically expected to apply to graduate when they have completed their degree requirements. The university, however, reserves the right to confer a degree on a student who has completed all of the requirements for a degree even though the student has not applied to graduate; such an individual would then be subject to the university's usual rules and restrictions regarding future enrollment or registration.

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2. Documentation of Degree Conferral


The Office of the Registrar posts newly-conferred degrees on students’ records approximately ten days after the conferral date of each term. At that time, the program status for the degree changes to “conferred.” Transcripts ordered after that date will show the conferred degree and date.

Degree Certificates

Students who receive degrees at the end of Summer, Autumn, and Winter quarters are sent degree certificates approximately two weeks after the conferral date by the Office of the Registrar. These certificates state the student’s name, degree program completed, and date of conferral. 


Diplomas are distributed only at Commencement or by mail following Commencement to students receiving Spring quarter degrees and to students who received degrees at the end of the previous Summer, Autumn, and Winter quarters. In Spring quarter, students must apply to graduate by the second week in April. in order to have a diploma prepared for the Commencement ceremony. The exact date is published in the university calendar. 

Statements of Completion

Doctoral students who have submitted their dissertations and who need confirmation of their status for employment purposes before conferral may request a Statement of Completion. These statements are prepared by the Office of the Registrar after verifying with the degree program administrator that all degree requirements have been fulfilled, and that there are no holds on the student’s record. The Statement of Completion states that the student has completed all degree requirements and that the degree will be conferred on the next conferral date. To request a Statement of Completion, students should submit a Stanford Services & Support ticket, directed to the Records Unit in the Office of the University Registrar.

Holds on Documentation

Students who have certain holds on their records may not receive a transcript, degree certificate, diploma, or statement of completion. Generally, these holds represent unmet financial obligations or result from university disciplinary action (see GAP 5.5 Enrollment Holds).

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3. Walkthrough of Graduation

Students who have satisfied necessary eligibility requirements may participate in Stanford commencement exercises at the end of Spring quarter prior to actual degree conferral. Students who wish to do this must file a written request with their degree program by the published deadline (some degree programs may require a Commencement Walkthrough Petition, while others do not). This is NOT an application to graduate, nor is it a petition to withdraw an application to graduate. Students must submit an application to graduate via Axess by the published deadline.

The student must receive the degree program's approval to be eligible to participate in a commencement walkthrough. In addition: 

  •  M.A./M.S. students should have completed at least 36 units 
  •  Ph.D. students should have completed their oral defense. 

The Office of the Registrar does not process or approve walkthrough requests for graduate students.

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4. Withdrawal of Application to Graduate

Students who wish to withdraw a request for conferral or make changes to the Application to Graduate should notify the Student Services Center in writing through the Withdrawal of Application to Graduate form, or other appropriate form. 

By signing and submitting a Withdrawal of Application to Graduate, the student requests the Office of the Registrar to withdraw the application to graduate for the quarter indicated. The student acknowledges that he or she must submit a new application to graduate via Axess for the quarter in which graduation is anticipated by the deadline published in the academic calendar. 

Students should discuss their graduation plans with their advisor and with their degree program's student services staff. International students holding F-1 or J-1 visas should also consult the Bechtel International Center to discuss whether filing this form will affect their visa status in any way.

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