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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 2020 Shaw University Commencement Exercise will be held on Sunday, May 10, 2020 (10:00 a.m.) in the Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (2 E. South St, Raleigh, NC 27601).

  2. What time should graduates arrive?    
    Graduates should arrive at Spaulding Gym at 7:30 a.m. to line up for the Commencement Exercise.
  3. What time should my guests arrive?   
    We recommend that guest arrive early to allow time for traffic and parking. The lots and doors will open approximately two (2) hours prior to the start of the ceremony
  4. 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 and Parking Information page on the website for details.
  5. 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 Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts – Memorial Auditorium.      
  6. Can my family bring signs or noisemakers to cheer for me? 
    No. The Commencement ceremony is a traditional academic ritual. This means: no signs, no fireworks, no bottles, no beach balls, no cans, no noisemakers, etc. 
  7. Who is the University Commencement Speaker? 
    The Office of the President will announce the Commencement speaker in the near future.   
  8. 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 those pictures will be made available on the website.
  9. How do I order graduation announcements?   
    You may purchase or order graduation announcements from Herff Jones up through March 30. Herff Jones has created school-specific personalized announcements for Shaw University and you may order them through the 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.  
  10. What is the deadline date to pay the senior graduation fee? The graduation fee should be paid on or before April 1. All balances must be paid. For further questions pertaining to senior clearance, seniors should contact the Student Accounts Office at (919) 546-8228.
  11. Can students contact the Cashier’s Office for credit card payments?  Yes, students can contact the Cashier’s Office at 919-546-8678. Students can also make cash, certified check, money order or online payments through the Cashier’s Office.  Office hours for Student Accounts and Cashier’s Office are 8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.  Both offices are located in Tyler Hall, 1st floor. 
  12. 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. 
  13. May I participate in the Commencement Exercise if I am scheduled 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.
  14. 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 30. However, your name will not be included in the program if you have not been cleared before the programs are sent to the printers. 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.
  15. Do my guests need a ticket to attend the ceremony? 
    No. The Shaw University Commencement Exercise is not a ticketed event. 
  16. 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. 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 30 by 11:59 p.m. on the Herff Jones website. 
  17. 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.
  18. What is the deadline for graduation applications?
    Fall Prospective Graduates must submit the graduation application by August 23, by 5:00 p.m.
    Spring Prospective Graduates must submit the graduation application by November 15 by 5:00 p.m.
  19. When are senior exams?  
    Senior exams are scheduled December 7 - 13 (Fall) and May 27 - May 29 (Spring).
  20. 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 (919-546-8415).
  21. 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. 
  22. 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 the stage. 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. 
  23. How do I get my honor cord?
    The Registrar will give out honor cords at rehearsal.
  24. Can I wear cords and medallions with my cap and gown? 
    Graduation cords can be worn at Commencement if they represent high academic achievement and not simply membership in a student organization, athletic team, or fraternity/sorority. 
  25. What do I do with my purse and other personal items during the ceremony? 
    Please leave all personal belongings with your guests or in your vehicle during the ceremony.