The Office of the Provost oversees the graduation process for all PhD and Research Master's degrees at the University as of September 2021.  The University of Pennsylvania confers degrees in May, August, and December. Commencement and diploma ceremonies are held in May.

Degree candidates should apply online via the Degree Candidate System according to the dates listed in the Degree Calendar. The University's requirements for formatting the dissertation are in the Dissertation Manual (revised October 2012). The specific deadlines for notification are listed on the Degree Calendar. Please read the Doctoral Dissertation Manual for assistance with formatting your work.

There are specific policies which apply to the fulfillment of degree requirements and to the graduation process. Rules and regulations pertaining to the awarding of graduate degrees are listed here.

The specific deadlines relevant to the graduation process are listed in the degree calendar. Graduate groups must submit signed forms to the Office of the Graduate Division of the School of Arts & Sciences, to record completion of requirements including:

  • Language exams or requirements
  • AM/MS Masters research and final exams
  • PH.D. qualification evaluations and preliminary examinations
  • Dissertation oral defense

To become a candidate for the Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy degrees, a student must complete an application for graduation. You will need your PennKey and password to access this secure website.

Application for Graduation

Submatriculants, enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate schools, follow special graduation procedures. Three months prior to the anticipated graduation, a submatriculant must declare candidacy for the Master's degree by completing undergraduate and graduate forms. Graduate degree deadlines for candidacy are firm and a submatriculant is responsible for obtaining degree information by contacting the appropriate graduate department administrator or the Office of the Graduate Division of the School of Arts & Sciences.

Degrees are awarded in May, August and December of each year. Recipients of August 2021 and December 2021 degrees may participate in the annual Commencement Exercises held in May of the following year.

Graduate students are invited to attend graduation exercises for their own graduate division as well as for the entire University. No tickets are necessary to attend the main University commencement activities at Franklin Field. Information on this event is distributed by department and school offices. Graduates of the Graduate Division of the School of Arts & Sciences receive invitations and tickets from the Graduate Division Office to attend their own ceremony and reception. Follow this link to view a current list of School Ceremonies.

Cap and gown rentals are arranged through the University Bookstore.

Details of the graduation ceremonies are available from the Office of the Graduate Division of the School of Arts & Sciences and from departmental offices. 

The Graduate Division Ceremony will occur on May 13, 2022 at 2 pm in the Zellerbach Theater, 3680 Walnut Street. Additional details will be posted shortly.


What are the deadlines to apply for graduation? When and how do I formally deposit my dissertation?

Consult the Graduation Calendar. Graduating students sign-up for graduation through this online application. You will need your PennKey and password to access this secure website.

How do I get a copy of Penn's dissertation manual?

Both the Master's Thesis Style Guide and the Doctoral Dissertation Manual are available on-line.

How do I get graduation tickets and a cap and gown for the May Commencement?

No tickets are necessary to attend the main University commencement activities at Franklin Field. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Ceremony begins at 10:15 a.m.

To participate in the Graduate Division's ceremony on May 13, RSVP via Degree. Tickets are mailed through April 25, pickup at the Graduate Division office through May 9, or will-call on the day of the ceremony. Please reach out to with any questions.

Invitations and tickets for the School of Arts & Sciences, Graduate Division commencement ceremony and reception are sent out by the Office of the Graduate Division. Ceremony begins at 1 p.m.

Cap and gown arrangements are made at the University Bookstore.

Where do I pay late fees?

The fees are paid at Penn.Pay.

My bill is not clear. I know it has to be clear before I can graduate, but how do I take care of this?

This is best handled at the Office of Student Financial Services.

I need a new diploma because:
  • I received a damaged diploma through the mail
  • I was storing my diploma at my parents' house, but when they moved it was lost
  • I have legally changed my name.
What can I do?

New diplomas can be obtained only through the Office of the Secretary of the University. For more information phone 215/898-7005 or e-mail

Is there anything that can be done to assure my new employer that I have fulfilled all degree requirements, even though the official graduation date is still some time away?

Contact the Office of the Provost

What type of post-graduate support does the Graduate Division provide?

Career Services offers guidance and resources designed specifically for PhD students exploring their many career options within higher education and beyond. Whether you are seeking faculty positions, postdocs, or roles in industry, government, and non-profits, you can call 215 898 7530, or log in to Handshake, Career Services’ online platform, to set up a time to speak with career advisors who are specialized in working with PhD students at any stage of the career exploration and career development process. Career advisors can also help you to tap into the vast network of PhD alumni, through tools such as QuakerNet, to help you gain a complete understanding of career paths that value your PhD.

For further assistance with graduation or degree questions, please contact the Office of the Provost.