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Commencement Frequently Asked Questions 

Below are some answers to typical questions that graduates or visitors may have about Commencement. 

  1. When is Commencement?  
    The 2023 Shaw University Commencement Exercises will be held on Saturday, May 11, 2024 in the Raleigh Convention Center at 10:00 AM.

  2. What if I do not know what School my major is in?

    To confirm what School you belong to, check the Current Degree Offerings commencement page.

  3. What time should graduates arrive?    
    Shaw University Graduates should arrive at the C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium by 8:00 am to line up and process (walk) to the Raleigh Convention Center (using the McDowell Street entrance) The procession will begin promptly at 9:15 am.

  4. Do my guests need a ticket to attend the ceremony?
    No. The Shaw University Commencement Exercise will not be a ticketed event.

  5. Where should my guests park for the Commencement ceremony?   

    Guests can park in the McLaurin parking deck located on Lenoir Street for all events for a fee of $7 per day.  Also, go to the Directions Information Commencement webpage for details.

  6. Will there be handicap parking? 
    Handicapped parking for individuals with valid, state-issued handicapped permits/plates will be available in the parking lots surrounding the Raleigh Convention Center.

  7. Can my family bring signs or noisemakers to cheer for me? 

    No. The venue does not allow balloons, noise makers or large flyers as it may present a fire hazard in the event of an emergency. The Commencement ceremony is a traditional and professional academic ritual.

  8. What time should my guests arrive?  
    Guests can begin to enter the venue at by 9:00 am. Please allow time for traffic and parking.

  9. Where should guests arrive to attend Commencement.
    Guest may enter through the main entrance on Salisbury Street. From the main lobby, guests can take the stairs, escalators or elevator to the bottom level to enter the ceremony.

  10. Who is the University Commencement Speaker?  
    The 2024 Commencement speaker will be announced soon.

  11. Will a photographer be on hand to take individual pictures as the diploma is received? 

    Yes. A photographer from Photo Specialist will be on hand taking pictures as graduates walk across the stage.  Additional details for ordering these pictures will be sent to your bears email directly from PhotoSpecialties. Contact information for Photo Specialties can be found in your Program (919) 967-9576.

  12. How do I order my cap and gown?  

    You may order your cap and gown, as well as additional graduation products from the Herff Jones website in New Window. The cost of the cap and gown are included in your graduation fee.  Please remember that the deadline to order all graduation items is March 1st by 11:59 p.m. 

  13. How do I order graduation announcements?    
    You may purchase or order graduation announcements from Herff Jones up through March 1st. Herff Jones has created school-specific personalized announcements for Shaw University, and you may order them through their Herff Jones website.  Generic graduation announcements may also be purchased from the Shaw University Bookstore (Willie E. Gary Student Center, 919-828-1730). Remember it takes several weeks for personalized printing so order them well in advance.  

  14. What is the deadline date to pay the senior graduation fee? 
    The graduation fee should be paid on or before April 15. All balances must also be paid. For further questions pertaining to senior clearance, seniors should contact the Student Accounts Office at (919) 546-8228 or via email to

  15. Can students contact the Cashier’s Office for credit card payments?
    Yes, students can contact the Cashier’s Office at 919-546-8678. Hours of Operation for Cashier’s Office are 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., located on the1st floor of Tyler Hall. Students can pay via certified check, debit card, credit card, money order or on-line payments through the Cashier’s Office. No checks can be accepted after April 15, 2022.

  16. May I participate in the Commencement Exercise although I have an outstanding account balance at the institution?  
    No. Only students who have completed the Graduation Clearance Process (which includes clearing all outstanding balances) will be allowed to participate in the Commencement Exercise. 

  17. May I participate in the Commencement Exercise if I still need to complete coursework after May? 

    No. Only students who have completed the Graduation Clearance Process (which includes a final degree audit) will be allowed to participate in the Commencement Exercise.

  18. Will my name appear in the commencement program?  
    Yes. If you have completed your graduation application your name will appear in the commencement program. However, the commencement program is for ceremonial purposes only and does not reflect the official graduation status of the participants. The diploma of Shaw University, signed and sealed by its proper officers, remains the official testimony of the possession of the degree. 

  19. Will my name be included in the program if I have not completed all requirements to be cleared?  
    It is possible that your name is listed in the program if you are a prospective graduate as of April 15. However, your name will not be included in the program if you do not have a completed Graduation Application and Senior Audit form. The commencement program contains the most accurate graduation information available at press time and is for ceremonial purposes only. The commencement program does not reflect the official graduation status of the participant and should not be used to determine a student’s academic or degree status. The diploma of the University, signed and sealed by its proper officers, remains the official testimony of the possession of the degree.

  20. Will I receive a diploma if I did not apply for graduation?  
    All students must apply to graduate in order to receive a diploma, regardless of whether you intend to participate in any commencement exercises.

  21. What is the deadline for graduation applications?
    The deadline for Fall Prospective Graduates’ must have a submitted Graduation Applications by August 30, by 5:00 p.m. The deadline for Spring Prospective Graduates’ must have a submitted Graduation Applications by October 30 by 5:00 p.m.

  22. When are senior exams?  

    Senior exams are scheduled between November 11 - 17 (Fall) and April 27 - May 3 (Spring).

  23. Must I participate in the commencement ceremony to receive my diploma?    

    No. Participation in the commencement ceremony is not mandatory.  If you wish to have your diploma package mailed to you, contact the Office of the Registrar (919-546-8414).

  24. What should I wear under my cap and gown?   
    Appropriate business attire should be worn beneath the regalia and you should wear black shoes that you feel comfortable walking across stage in. Note: If you do not have proper academic regalia, you cannot participate in the Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies. Those persons not dressed properly will be immediately asked to leave the assembly area and will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony. If you already have your own cap and gown, you must obtain approval by April 24 to wear them from appropriate staff in the Shaw University Bookstore. Students are permitted to decorate their mortar boards and must adhere to all restrictions regarding appropriate décor.

    Commencement Mortar Board Decor

  25. How do I get my honor cord?
    Honor Cords will pick up along with your cap & gown from the bookstore, after you have cleared for graduation. Only undergraduates receive honor cords. 

  26. Can I wear cords and medallions with my cap and gown? 
    Graduation cords can be worn at Commencement if they represent high academic achievement.

  27. What do I do with my purse and other personal items during the ceremony?
    Please leave all personal belongings with your guests or in a safe place during the ceremony. It may be difficult to keep up with a purse or bag during the ceremony.

  28. Will Commencement be Live Streamed?
    Yes, commencement will be streamed live. It is available to watch on Shaw University’s Facebook Page, You Tube Channel, and the Commencement Webpage online