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Students must file an application for graduation by the deadline posted at /studentrecords/commencement/Graduationapplication.php. The form is used by college or school personnel for degree clearance, preparation of the annual Commencement program and diploma presentation, and it is the student’s first step toward participation in the annual Commencement ceremony.

Undergraduate Graduation

Once requirements have been fulfilled and verified, the Office of Student Records will post the degree and mail the diploma with the established graduation date in May, August or December. The student must complete and the college office must verify all requirements within 45 days of graduation to have the degree posted with the applied-for graduation date. Students who meet the requirements for graduation at a later point in time will have an effective graduation date of the following established graduation date in May, August or December.

Graduate, Pharmacy and Law Graduation

Once graduate, pharmacy and law students have filed an application for graduation and are certified to meet the requirements of graduation by the College office, the Office of Student Records will post the degree dated the 15th of the following month (pharmacy students cannot graduate prior to the established graduation date in May).

Honors at Graduation

Graduating students who have attained academic excellence and high scholastic achievement on the basis of cumulative GPA for 60 or more undergraduate hours at Drake University are recognized in the Commencement program with the following honors:

Cum Laude — GPA 3.50-3.69
Magna Cum Laude — GPA 3.70-3.89
Summa Cum Laude — GPA 3.90-4.00

Students who do not qualify for the above honors but who have attained a 4.00 average in their last 30 credit hours or a 3.80 average or better in their last 60 hours at Drake are graduated Cum Laude. A transfer student who does not complete 60 hours at Drake is graduated Cum Laude if he or she has attained a 4.00 average in the last 30 hours or a 3.80 average or better in the last 45 to 59 hours. Departmental honors are awarded to a Cum Laude (or higher) graduate who has 18 or more credit hours in his/her major department(s) with a minimum GPA of 3.80.

The appropriate overall honors designation is recorded on the transcript and diploma of an honors graduate. Departmental honors are recorded on the transcript.

Academic Costume

Principal features of academic dress are the gown, the cap and the hood. It became necessary for universities to set rules to preserve the dignity and meaning of academic dress. Since the 15th century, both Cambridge and Oxford have made academic dress a matter of university control, even to its minor details, and have repeatedly published revised regulations. American universities agreed on a standardized system in 1895. The current guidelines have been in place since 1960.

Drake Attire

Whereas the Commencement ceremony is a formal affair, academic attire is required. For all Drake University degrees, the black gown is appropriate. The bachelor’s gown has pointed, open sleeves with a closed front. The master’s gown has closed sleeves with an open or closed front. The doctoral gown has full bell sleeves with wide cuffs. It should be faced down in front with black velvet and three bars of velvet across the upper sleeve.

The cap is a Cambridge-style cap (resembling a large beret) for all doctoral degrees and a square mortarboard (Oxford style) for all other degrees. The cap should be adorned only with a tassel of the discipline color. The gold metallic tassel is appropriate for all doctoral degrees. The hood is worn by candidates for master’s degrees and higher. The inside silk lining is the Drake blue with a single white chevron. The outside of the master’s or specialist hood is black with velvet trim of the discipline. The outside of the doctoral hood is a wide velvet band in the color of the discipline.

Honor medallions are worn by students graduating with college or university honors. Kente stoles also are approved ornamentation. Additional ornamentation must receive prior approval of the University Commencement Committee.

Eligibility for Ceremony Attendance

Any student who has earned a degree and has not participated in a previous Drake Commencement ceremony for that degree is encouraged to participate.

Students who expect to complete degree requirements in either May or August are encouraged to participate in the ceremony in the year they finish their degrees.

Participation in the May ceremony can be granted on an individual basis to students finishing their degrees the following December. Students must submit a written request and obtain their dean’s permission no later than 30 days prior to the ceremony.


When a dean denies a December graduate’s petition to participate in the May ceremony before the degree is completed, the student may appeal the decision to the Office of the Provost. The appeal must be in writing with supporting documentation attached.

Exception Criteria

The following are the criteria for granting ceremony participation on the exception basis for students with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.

A student must have completed the summer and fall registration process, and those courses must fulfill the full degree requirements. The student also must meet one of the following:

  • The student will graduate with multiple degrees or majors, and requirements for one degree will be complete in May or August, OR
  • The student has only the student teaching requirement remaining to be completed during the upcoming fall semester, OR
  • The student can document a serious hardship associated with participation in the commencement ceremony on the day established.

Complete information about commencement is available at /studentrecords/commencement.

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