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UOPX commencement: Your questions answered

At a glance

  • University of Phoenix approaches commencement in a different, student-first way, offering virtual and in-person ceremonies throughout the year.
  • Students should start thinking about commencement about three quarters of the way through their program.
  • Virtual commencement is a good option for graduates concerned about finances or scheduling (or both!).
  • University of Phoenix can help you pursue your educational goals. Explore more than 100 online degree and certificate options!

Commencement is the culmination of every student’s hopes and hard work. But did you know the word commencement means beginning? We think this is fitting since, for many of our students, a college degree begins a new family trajectory. Six of every 10 University of Phoenix students are the first in their family to pursue a degree.

That’s a lot to celebrate.

We don’t ever want our students to miss out on this exciting commencement milestone — especially when they may also be navigating the flurry of final classes in their program. So, we recently asked Karen Turner, the local events activation manager for University of Phoenix, to answer frequently asked questions about commencement.

More than 100 degrees and certificate options — 90% of which are in growing fields. 

At what point in my program should I start thinking about commencement?

When you reach roughly the three-quarter completion point in your program, it’s time to visit the University’s commencement page. Keep on checking it through completion, and keep an eye on your email too. We send good information that way.

Requirements for commencement vary by degree program, so the commencement page is your go-to destination for upcoming ceremonies and eligibility and registration info.

Ceremonies open at different times throughout the year. And here’s a little-known fact: You can participate in commencement after you complete your program, so if the timing or locations don’t fit, they might six months or a year from now.

How do I know if I’m eligible to participate in a ceremony?

First, visit the commencement page to find upcoming ceremonies and registration deadlines.

Then, click the “View ceremony details” button for your ceremony of choice and look for the link to register. Once you log in, you can confirm your eligibility. It’s important to note that your academic and financial status must be in good standing in order to graduate and participate in a ceremony.

Does University of Phoenix offer in-person ceremonies or virtual ceremonies?

We have both! And while some students do actually attend both, most graduates choose one or the other. 

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Do I have to attend commencement to graduate and get my diploma?

Commencement is not a requirement. While most people look forward to celebrating this milestone, every graduate receives a diploma regardless of whether they attend an optional in-person or virtual commencement ceremony. Your diploma is not part of the ceremony and is a separate process.

Speaking of diplomas, when will I receive mine?

Your physical diploma will be mailed within several weeks of your program completion. This may be different from your commencement date, as some students “walk” at commencement before officially completing their program.

Students also receive a digital diploma immediately. This allows them to share their degree achievement quickly via online platforms and job boards.

How do I order my cap and gown?

On the commencement page, click “View ceremony details” for your preferred commencement date to find regalia ordering deadlines and preferred vendors. We work with two preferred vendors, and which one you order with varies by ceremony.

As an example, the deadline for ordering regalia for the March 2, 2024, Phoenix ceremony is Feb. 18. Ordering much earlier will help you avoid expedited shipping fees. 

How do I get tickets, and how many friends and family can I invite?

This depends on the venue and number of graduates, but the University always makes as many tickets available to graduates as possible.

As an example, a spring ceremony held at Phoenix’s Chase Field offers ample seating, and graduates are permitted to invite up to 15 guests. Smaller venues will accommodate fewer invitees.

If the guest list is a priority for you, be sure to check all the drop-down menus on your selected commencement’s online page for details. And watch your email inbox as the ceremony draws closer.

Is there anything special about the virtual ceremony that I should know?

Virtual commencement is a great option for graduates who are mindful of schedules or finances — or both.

There is one extra step you’ll want to be aware of for virtual commencement: To make your experience as personalized as possible, you’ll need to set up an account (separate from your University of Phoenix login) where you’ll be able to upload a photo and message to personalize the commencement slide that will be shown on-screen when your name is announced. Your name and degree are automatically added, so no worries there.

After the ceremony, you get to download your slide and keep it, so it’s worth a few minutes of setup to create a forever keepsake.

To make the most out of your virtual commencement, it’s also important to watch for (and follow!) instructions sent by email. For other questions, check out the University’s dedicated site for virtual commencement.

Whew. That was a lot of information! Graduation is one of the biggest achievements of your life, and we’re here to answer your questions. When a ceremony is available, a dedicated page will share specific details. You can find these links on the commencement page along with information on everything from stroller info to parking directions to how to get a link to the livestream for family and friends who can’t attend.

If you don’t find what you need on the commencement page, please email us with questions at Otherwise, we’ll see you on your big day.

Together, we rise.

Photo of Laurie Davies


A journalist-turned-marketer, Laurie Davies has been writing since her high school advanced composition teacher told her she broke too many rules. She has worked with University of Phoenix since 2017, and currently splits her time between blogging and serving as lead writer on the University’s Academic Annual Report. Previously, she has written marketing content for MADD, Kaiser Permanente, Massage Envy, UPS, and other national brands. She lives in the Phoenix area with her husband and son, who is the best story she’s ever written.


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