Ceremony Information

Commencement FAQ




Petition to Graduate

What is the deadline to petition to graduate if I want to participate in the commencement ceremony?
Spring: March 15, 2016

Your Student Advisor will notify you when you qualify to submit your petition. You can locate your current status on your degree progress report, which is found on your Student Portal under "My Degree." Allow 7-10 business days for the form to be processed. This completed form, including required fees, must be submitted to release all transcripts, diplomas, and verifications for degrees awarded. After processing this form, your account will be charged the graduation fee plus any applicable sales tax.

Petitions received after the deadlines will be forwarded to the next commencement ceremony date.

What if it has been more than 10 business days, and I have not heard back from Ashford University as to the status of my PTG approval?
It is possible that your form was not properly transmitted. Please email graduation.information@ashford.edu first and alert us that you have not heard back. Do not resubmit a new form until the graduation committee gets back to you.

How do I notify the University that I want to participate in a commencement ceremony?
If you have not yet graduated, and have not yet submitted your Petition To Graduate form, click "YES" in the Attending Commencement box on the form. Note: if the form is submitted on or before the deadline (March 15, 2016) for registration for the Spring 2016 ceremony, you will automatically be registered for the Spring ceremony. If the form is submitted after the deadline for the Spring ceremony, you will be automatically registered for the Fall 2016 ceremony.

If you have already graduated, notify the University by emailing graduation.information@ashford.edu that you would like to attend, and they can update your file.

If I do not plan on attending commencement, do I still need to fill out the Petition to Graduate (PTG) form?
Yes, all students must submit the PTG form in order to graduate, regardless of their plans to attend commencement. The PTG provides the University with important graduate information, including how you would like your name displayed on your diploma, and the address where you would like to receive your diploma.

May I participate in commencement if my PTG form is not approved?
No. You must have a valid PTG on file and have ordered your regalia to attend commencement.

I am unsure if I will be able to attend commencement. Should I still click YES on attending commencement?
Yes; you will be automatically removed later if you do not order your cap and gown. It is better to RSVP YES if you think there is a chance you might come. Those who miss the deadline are moved to the next ceremony.

When should I start receiving email communications regarding commencement?
Spring 2016: You should receive the first email with cap and gown ordering information in January 2016. If you do not receive this email, please confirm with the Registrar Department that you are cleared to attend the ceremony by emailing graduation.information@ashford.edu.

Attending the Commencement Ceremony

I am registered for one commencement ceremony, but I would like to attend another. How do I request a switch?
Please contact graduation.information@ashford.edu. If you are requesting to change to an earlier commencement ceremony, you will be asked to complete a Commencement Exceptions form.

What is the difference between "graduation" and "commencement?"
"Graduation" is a process consisting of completing all academic requirements for your degree, settling all financial obligations, submitting the Petition to Graduate (PTG) form, and obtaining University approval.

"Commencement" refers to the ceremony, officiated by the President of the University, which is an opportunity for students to share the excitement and importance of their academic and honorable accomplishments.

Where can I find detailed information regarding commencement activities?
When your PTG form is approved and you are cleared to attend commencement, you will be placed on the commencement mailing list and begin receiving detailed information. You can also find basic information on the Graduation page on the Ashford website.

Do my family members and friends need tickets to see me walk at commencement?
Not at this time. Seating is first come, first serve. We will notify you if the event becomes ticketed.

I require accommodation for a disability during the ceremony. Where do I request assistance?
Spring 2016: Please email the Office of Student Access and Wellness at access@ashford.edu a minimum of two weeks prior to the ceremony.

For those individuals who need large print or Braille programs these will be available on a first come, first served basis, unless requested in advance. Assistive listening devices will also be available upon request. Please contact access@ashford.edu regarding your needs.

Will there be a commencement rehearsal for students to attend?
No; because we are primarily an online university and it would be very difficult to arrange a rehearsal around thousands of travel schedules, there is no formal rehearsal.

I plan on bringing children to commencement. Is childcare offered on Saturday or Sunday?
No; unfortunately Ashford University cannot and will not take responsibility for minors during any commencement event. Children under the age of 18 should always be accompanied by an adult.

Cap and Gown

How do I order my cap and gown?
All cap and gowns are ordered through a 3rd party vendor. You will receive communications about how to go about ordering your cap and gown at the same time that you receive communications about your petition to graduate. Both the petition to graduate and cap and gown must be completed by the deadline in order for you to be confirmed to attend the ceremony.

View the current costs of the graduation regalia.

When should I order my cap and gown?
Please order your cap and gown as soon as possible. Cap and gowns must be ordered prior to March 15, 2016 in order to not be removed from the Spring 2016 ceremony. Orders placed after March 15, 2016 will be removed from the Spring 2016 ceremony. Click this link to order your cap and gown.

What is the deadline to order my cap and gown? 
Spring 2016: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 11:59 pm PST. Orders placed after this date will be removed from the Spring 2016 ceremony.

Does my cap and gown come with a tassel?
Your cap will include a black tassel. Jostens also offers souvenir tri-colored tassels that you can order separately. Please note that you must wear the black tassel to the commencement ceremony.

What happens if I do not order my cap and gown before the expressed deadline?
You will be removed from the commencement ceremony. We cannot guarantee that you will be granted an extension. Please make it a priority to observe the posted deadlines. Please email graduation.information@ashford.edu with any other questions.

I have a cap and gown from a prior commencement ceremony. May I wear my old one instead of ordering a new one?
In order to maintain uniformity, only Ashford University caps and gowns, ordered from the approved vendor, may be worn. If you ordered an Ashford cap and gown for a previous ceremony and did not attend that ceremony, please email graduation.information@ashford.edu for more information.

I need written verification that I am attending an Ashford University commencement ceremony in the near future. How do I request this verification?
Students requesting official documentation to verify their intent to attend the commencement ceremonies being held in San Diego, CA must submit the Commencement Participation Verification Request form located on the Student Portal under 'Registrar Forms'. If the requested documentation will be sent to a foreign embassy or government to gain approval for family members to visit the United States for the ceremony, please ensure that you submit the form at least three weeks before the deadline to submit documentation to the embassy. Forms will be processed within 7-10 business days and documentation will be mailed out via standard United States Postal Service to the address indicated in section three (3) of the form. Ashford University can only provide documentation about the student's enrollment with the University and their intent to attend a commencement ceremony. We will not provide personal recommendations based on a student's character.


Will I receive my diploma during the ceremony?
No, you will receive a purple leather diploma cover with a letter from the President of the University. Your diploma will be shipped to you when you complete all degree requirements, as specified in the Academic Catalog.

When I walk across the stage and receive my diploma cover, does that mean I have graduated?
No; commencement is a celebration of your anticipated graduation, and you do not receive your actual diploma at commencement. Your degree becomes official when it is posted to your transcript, not by your participation in commencement.

When will I receive my actual diploma?
Your degree will be conferred and your diploma and transcripts will be released once you have met all degree requirements including, but not limited to, credits earned, GPA, examinations, and balances paid in full. Diplomas are generally ordered within 30 days of completion of all program requirements and payment of all related tuition and fees. Once the diploma is ordered, it will take six to eight weeks to arrive. Diplomas, certificates, and transcripts will be withheld until all accounts at the University are paid in full. Diplomas will not be issued at the graduation ceremony. Once orders are placed, mailing addresses cannot be changed. Please make sure your address is up to date and accurate before finishing your last course. Your diploma will state your name as indicated on your Petition to Graduate form, your major, your graduation date and any honors you may have earned. Any applicable specializations or minors you've earned will not appear on your diploma, but will be indicated on your transcript. The date of degree conferral recorded on your diploma will reflect the date you complete all course requirements.

Honor Students

Do honor students receive their cap and gown for free?
No; this idea is a very common misconception. All students are required to order and pay for their own cap and gown before the expressed deadline.

Do honor students receive their honor cords and stoles for free?
Yes; students who qualify for academic honors or who are in an Ashford University Honor Society may pick up their designated cords or stoles at commencement Check-In. There is no cost to the student for honor cords and stoles.

What is the difference between Academic (Latin) Honors and Honor Societies?
Academic honors are achieved by attaining an overall GPA for 3.50 or greater. Undergraduate candidates, who achieve an overall GPA of 3.50 or higher according to the official University criteria, will graduate:

  • Cum Laude: 3.50 - 3.69
  • Magna Cum Laude: 3.70 - 3.89
  • Summa Cum Laude: 3.90 and above
  • Academic honors are signified at commencement by wearing a stole around the neck.

Honor Societies are exclusive groups that students are invited to join, based on a number of qualifications. Ashford sponsors chapters for the following societies:

  • Alpha Sigma Lambda
  • Golden Key
  • Phi Theta Kappa
  • Delta Alpha Pi 
  • Ashford Junior-Senior Honor Society – Clinton Campus Only
  • Mu Sigma Eta– Clinton Campus Only
  • Scholars Institute – Clinton Campus Only
  • Sigma Tau Delta – Clinton Campus Only

Honor societies are signified at commencement by wearing a braided cord around the neck.



Join us on Saturday at Ashford's headquarters from 9 am - 1 pm to enjoy different activities including College mixers, having a photo with the President or our mascot, Champ, a graduation cap decorating station, military appreciation, and honor society meet-and-greets. Please look for details in the Commencement Newsletter coming your way the first week of April. Please note that these events are optional.

Ceremony Information

COMMENCEMENT - SUNDAY, MAY 1, 2016 – 10 am (check-in begins at 8 am)

Viejas Arena
5500 Canyon Crest Dr.
San Diego, CA 92115

When and where is the Spring 2016 commencement ceremony?
The Spring 2016 ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 1, 2016. The start time is 10 am. The event will take place at Viejas Arena located at 5500 Canyon Crest Dr., San Diego, CA 92115.

How early can I arrive to my ceremony?
Graduates should arrive no later than 8 am to check in and begin lining up for the ceremony.

Where should I park and check in?
Please allow at least 20 minutes to walk to the arena from any parking area east of College Avenue. Please note that parking will be $15 cash only.

From east of College Avenue: Take I-8 west to College Avenue, then proceed south on College Avenue. At the first intersection of College/Alvarado Road, turn right onto Canyon Crest Drive, then west to Parking Structure 4. From south of Montezuma Road: Take Route 94 or another east/west route to College Avenue north, then left on Montezuma Road, then right on 55th Street to Parking Structure 5.
From west of College Avenue: Take I-8 to College Avenue south, then right on Canyon Crest Drive to Parking Structure 4.
Alternate Route: Take I-8 to Fairmount Avenue, east on Montezuma Road to 55th Street, then left on 55th Street to Parking Structure 5.

City Guide

What airport should I fly into?
San Diego International Airport (SAN)

Does Ashford have a general schedule of events to help me plan my trip?
The ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 1, 2016. The start time is 10 am

In what area should I book a hotel?
Ashford University has negotiated special rates for students and their guests. Please check Commencement Hotel Rooms.

Do hotels and car rental companies offer special rates to Ashford students?
Yes, please check Commencement Hotel Rooms to make a hotel reservation.

If you have a question that has not been answered here, please email graduation.information@ashford.edu.