General Commencement Information for Online Students
Each year, online students are invited to participate in Commencement ceremonies at the Providence Campus.
Graduation refers to actually receiving a degree or certificate of completion once Johnson & Wales University has verified you as having met all degree or certificate requirements. Commencement is a ceremony. It is an opportunity for students, families, friends, and the JWU community to celebrate their academic accomplishments. Participation in commencement does not mean that you have graduated. Therefore, you must satisfy all graduation requirements before officially graduating and receiving a diploma.
To participate in the May commencement, you must: Submit an online graduation application for the semester in which you expect to complete your required student loan exit counseling and obtain your cap and gown. (Note: Students who have borrowed student loans and have not completed student loan exit counseling will not receive a cap and gown. You will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony without a cap and gown.
Below is a list of each campus's commencement websites. Please click on the campus name for commencement updates and information:
2021 Commencement (updated 3/4/2021)
The custom of graduating students coming together in a ceremony dates back to the twelfth century. The world certainly looks much different today than it did back then, or even just a few years ago, yet many of the rituals and celebrations of commencement have endured. Every year, the faculty, staff and administration at Johnson & Wales University look forward to our spring tradition of recognizing our students’ successful completion of their college degrees.
Once again, for our commencement planning, we were challenged to be creative to present the traditional elements of graduation while abiding by the government constraints that are in place. To celebrate the achievements of our Classes of 2020 and 2021 in-person this May, all eligible undergraduate and graduate students will be invited to walk across a celebratory stage while having their names announced, one by one. Students completing their doctoral and physician assistant degrees will be notified regarding commencement plans at a later date. We are so pleased that we can come together in May to celebrate our students’ extraordinary achievement - the completion of their JWU degree.
Please review the following Frequently Asked Questions. Messaging regarding registration for the Grad Walk will be shared in the coming weeks. As we continue to monitor government restrictions and recommended health protocols surrounding COVID-19, we will communicate any changes in our commencement plans for May.
What is a Grad Walk?
It gives graduates and eligible students an opportunity to walk across a celebratory stage while having their names announced, one by one. Professional photographers from GradImages will be present to photograph each graduate as they cross the stage (visit their website following the event to access photos). Note: Sign-up registration will be required to participate.
When will I receive my diploma?
Diplomas are not distributed at commencement — graduates are given a diploma cover containing a letter from the Alumni Association. Participation in commencement does not confirm graduation. Graduation is not recorded until up to 30 days after the semester has ended, grades have been received, and the degree audit of each expected graduate reviewed to confirm requirements have been satisfied. Awarded diplomas are mailed about six weeks after a semester ends; see full policies.
When will I receive my diploma? Do I get it at the Grad Walk?
Diplomas do not get distributed in person. They are printed and mailed after the degree or certificate verification process is complete, which occurs approximately six-to-eight business weeks after the end of each semester. Students who participate in the Grad Walk will receive a diploma cover (or diploma tube for graduate programs).
Will there be a program?
Yes. Programs, including the names of graduates & graduating students, will be printed and available digitally on this webpage.
Are guests allowed at the Grad Walk?
Each graduate/graduating student may have two guests present during their assigned time to witness this important moment in their life. Tickets are not required, but refer to the COVID-19 testing requirement in the next question. Note: Every Grad Walk will be live streamed so faculty, staff and additional family and friends can virtually view and celebrate graduates.
Will negative COVID-19 test results be required of all participants and guests?
Yes. Negative COVID-19 test results (taken within 48 hours prior to the event date) must be presented before being cleared to enter the Wildcat Center. Visit covid.ri.gov for testing information in Rhode Island. Security & staff will be checking and verifying testing results (and enforcing the two-guest maximum).
Will face masks be required? Can I remove it during the Grad Walk?
Masks are required; wear one that is at least two layers thick and fits snugly but comfortably over your nose, mouth and chin without any gaps. All participants and attendees should leave their masks on at all times during the event.
When and where will Grad Walks take place?
They will take place at the Wildcat Center on the Harborside Campus. Grad Walks will be organized by colleges and will occur over the course of four days: May 5-8, 2021. Each small group will be staggered, one after the other.
What are the Grad Walk breakouts by college, by day?
Planned celebrations will be held as follows:
- Wednesday, May 5: Undergraduate Programs (all colleges), Class of 2020
- Thursday, May 6: Graduate Studies Programs (all colleges), Classes of 2020 & 2021
- Friday, May 7, Morning: Undergraduate Programs (Colleges of Food Innovation & Technology and Health & Wellness), Class of 2021
- Friday, May 7, Afternoon: Undergraduate Programs (Colleges of Engineering & Design and Hospitality Management), Class of 2021
- Saturday, May 8: Undergraduate Programs (Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Business), Class of 2021
How do I sign up to participate in the Grad Walk?
Graduates and eligible students will receive a registration link via email, which will include a designated day & time by college. Sign-up is first-come, first-served. Please continue monitoring your JWU email.
How much time will my Grad Walk take?
It is not a full commencement ceremony, so each group finishes in less than approximately fifteen minutes.
Will the Grad Walk be live-streamed and/or recorded?
Yes, a link will be provided on this webpage so that anyone can watch the Grad Walk live or anytime on-demand.
What if I require accommodation or ambulatory assistance to participate in the Grad Walk?
Please email JWU Special Events at [email protected].
How do I get my cap and gown?
An email will be sent to your JWU email address detailing online ordering instructions. Please continue monitoring your JWU email.
Who gets an Academic Hood and how?
All graduating students except AS degree candidates will receive an Academic Hood. It will be provided along with your cap & gown order.
Who gets a Gold Cord and how?
Undergraduates with a 3.4 or higher GPA as of the fall semester will receive a Gold Cord. They will be distributed through the Harborside Bookstore, which will be open before each Grad Walk.
I’m an Honors Program student. How do I get my Honors Gold Stole?
Graduating honors program students with a 3.4 or higher GPA as of the fall semester will receive an Honors Gold Stole (given out by the program director). Please contact the honors program director.
Who gets a Blue & White Cord and how?
Undergraduates who've participated in co-curricular activities designated by university parameters will receive a Blue & White Cord, which will be distributed by the applicable club or program director. It can be mailed if you are not present to be on campus.
Who is eligible to participate in the Grad Walk?
Anyone from the class of 2020 or 2021 who has met commencement ceremony eligibility. Please contact Student Academic Services if you have any questions.
What if I have other questions?
Please email [email protected].