Follow these steps by the deadlines listed for your degree type to get your degree and participate in the commencement ceremony.

Steps to Completing Your Degree

1. Submit a Plan of Study

A plan of study details all of the courses you will take in order to complete your degree program.  All degree-seeking graduate students must submit a plan of study. Master’s students must submit by the end of their second academic semester; doctoral students must submit by the end of their third academic semester. Refer to the Graduate Catalog for policies and requirements.

2. Enroll in Your Final Semester

You must enroll in at least three credit hours in your last semester to receive a degree and participate in commencement, unless you qualify for the start-of-semester defense exception.

3. Check the Name on Your Diploma

The name printed on your diploma will be the full legal name on your official university record. If you wish to make a change, submit a name change request before the deadline to apply for your degree.

4. Apply to Receive Your Degree

Electronically submit a Degree or Certificate Conferral Request online using HokieSPA. A $25 fee will be charged to your student account.

You must do this by the deadline for your name to be printed in the Commencement Bulletin. Ph.D. and Ed.D. students must also include their dissertation titles.

If you don’t complete all the degree requirements during the semester on your Degree or Certificate Conferral Request, you’ll need to submit a new request for the term you wish to graduate.

5. Schedule Your Final Exam

Schedule a date for your final exam to defend your thesis or dissertation using the Electronic Signature System. You must submit this request at least two weeks before your desired exam date.

6. Submit Your Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Upload your electronic thesis or dissertation (ETD) within two weeks after your exam/defense date. Submit any supporting documentation to the Graduate School during this timeframe as well, such as copyright permission letters, IRB approval or exemption notices, UMI form, or Survey of Earned Doctorates.

Once your final exam is approved, an ETD archiving fee of $20 for master’s thesis students or $45 for doctoral students will be charged to your student account.

7. Attending Commencement

Use the degree menu in HokieSPA to confirm whether or not you plan to attend your commencement ceremony.

Master's candidates who finish the requirements but not in time to receive a degree this semester are still welcome to participate in commencement. Doctoral candidates receive their diplomas during the ceremony, so they must complete all requirements by the commencement deadlines to participate in the doctoral hooding.

  • Read more about commencement