Commencement is the formal ceremony that is held to recognize and honor candidates for graduation. Commencement is the most significant academic event for students and the entire university community, as it is the culmination of years of hard work and personal and financial investment for students and families alike. These ceremonies celebrate the traditional observances that accompany one of the highest rewards of academic achievement.

Visit the Commencement website for information on Commencement ceremonies.

The Difference Between Graduation and Commencement

Commencement is not the same as graduation.

Graduation refers to actually receiving a degree or certificate of completion once Johnson & Wales University has verified a student has met all degree or certificate requirements. Upon verification, the degree or certificate is awarded and noted in the student information system so that it displays on the student's official transcript. A student’s graduation date will reflect the last day of the term in which the student completes their requirements, unless completion falls outside of a student’s enrollment term, in which case the graduation date will reflect the effective date of completion. Diplomas are printed and mailed after the degree or certificate verification process is complete, approximately 6–8 business weeks after the end of the term (see Diplomas). A diploma verifies the student’s awarded degree and graduation date.

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 students have graduated, and they will not receive their diploma on that day. Students must satisfy all graduation requirements before officially graduating and receiving a diploma.

Commencement Ceremony Eligibility

For participation in the May 2019 Commencement ceremony and inclusion in the Commencement program, degree-seeking students must fall into 1 of the following categories:

  • The student is awarded a degree in the winter 2018–19 term.
  • The student is enrolled in the spring 2019 term/semester and, as of March 15, 2019, has an expected degree completion term/semester of spring 2019, summer 2019 or fall 2019.


To participate in the May Commencement ceremony, students must visit the Commencement website to review campus specific requirements.

The Commencement Program

The Commencement program contains the names of students meeting eligibility criteria. For publication purposes, the honors status of students completing remaining course requirements in or following the spring term is determined by the cumulative GPA at the end of the winter term of the current year. A student’s final GPA will be used to record graduating honors, as applicable on the student’s diploma and academic transcript.

Note: Names that are printed in the Commencement program should not be used as an indicator of degree completion. Students must satisfy all graduation requirements before officially graduating and receiving a diploma. Students should review their degree audit to ensure they have met all graduation requirements.

Students Enrolled in Online Programs

Students enrolled in online programs will be invited to participate in Commencement ceremonies at the Providence Campus. However, students may choose to attend Commencement at an alternate campus. Students are encouraged to refer to the Commencement website for information on Commencement ceremonies. Graduate students are invited to the Graduate Studies Commencement ceremony at the Providence, North Miami or Denver Campus.