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Graduation Policy

Review the CALS policy on graduation.

Applying to Graduate

Students who expect to graduate must apply to graduate in the Student Center. They will need to indicate their term of completion and, separately, whether they would like to participate in a commencement ceremony. Students must apply by early April (for May) and early November (for December) in order for their names to appear in the commencement program.


Students may visit the University Book Store website for information about ordering caps and gowns and the Commencement website for information about the commencement ceremony. Campus-wide ceremonies are offered twice per year (May and December), and students may attend any ceremony regardless of their term of completion.

DARS and Degree Completion

Students should review their degree audit (DARS) report to ensure they have satisfied all degree requirements. If the student perceives an error on the report, the student should contact their advisor and the Office of Academic Affairs. Students' academic records will receive a final evaluation by staff in the Office of Academic Affairs. Students should inform their advisors and report any change in graduation plans to the Office of Academic Affairs. If a student has received permission to complete final coursework while not in residence, the student must notify the Office of Academic Affairs so that records can be reviewed and certified for graduation.

Students are graduated with a bachelor's degree when they have met all the university, college, degree program, and major requirements; have earned 120 credits; and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher on all courses carried for a grade at UW–Madison. Graduating students should know that the date they finish any outstanding Incompletes (I) will determine their semester of graduation. Students with a biological systems engineering major should check with the department for additional graduation requirements.


Students who have a cumulative GPA that places them in the top 20 percent of the graduating class in the college will graduate with "Distinction"; those in the upper 5 percent, with "Highest Distinction." These students must have at least 60 credits on the Madison campus. The notations on the student's transcript will read "Graduated with Distinction" or "Graduated with Highest Distinction." The Office of the Registrar determines which students meet these criteria.

A preliminary list of those degree candidates who may be eligible for Graduation with Distinction is prepared by the Office of the Registrar prior to commencement, called Distinctive Scholastic Achievement. These students are eligible to wear a cardinal stole with their caps and gowns at commencement. Inclusion on the Distinctive Scholastic Achievement list does not guarantee Graduation with Distinction, which is determined after final grades are awarded.

Students who apply, are admitted to, and complete all of the requirements for either of the CALS Honors Program tracks will receive a notation on their diploma indicating completion of their degree "with Honors". These students are also eligible to wear a stole at commencement.

Keywordsgraduation, commencement, degree completion, apply to graduate, honors, distinction, distinctive scholastic achievement, stole   Doc ID73901
OwnerDiana A.GroupCALS Academic Affairs
Created2017-06-07 16:19:22Updated2022-06-06 14:41:04
SitesCALS Academic Affairs
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