The information on this page will guide you step-by-step through convocation, from preparing for the big day, to the ceremony itself, and the celebration afterwards.
Step 1: Submit an Intention to Graduate form
If you are an undergraduate student:
Submit an Intention to Graduate form to the Office of the Registrar according to the deadlines listed below once your degree requirements have been met and you have verified your eligibility to graduate.
- December 1 for spring convocation if degree requirements are completed during the fall term
- March 1 for spring convocation
- August 1 for fall convocation
If you are a graduate student:
Submit an Intention to Graduate/Program Completion form to your academic department once your degree requirements have been met.
Submit the form by
- April 30 for spring convocation
- August 31 for fall convocation
Step 2: Verify your name in Quest
In Quest, run an unofficial transcript to check the name that appears on your official academic record. This is the name that will be printed on your diploma. If you'd like to make changes/additions/deletions to your name (including middle names), submit a Change of Name form with the required documentation to the Registrar's Office or Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs before May 1 for the spring convocation and September 1 for the fall convocation.
Step 3: Verify your home and email addresses
Verify that your home address is up to date by
- May 1 for spring convocation
- September 1 for fall convocation
If you don't attend the ceremony, your diploma will be held in the Registrar's Office or Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs for pick-up for approximately one week following convocation. If you aren't able to pick up your diploma during this time, it will be mailed to the home address you've listed in Quest.
Convocation information is sent via email to your Waterloo account. If you're not using your Waterloo account, change your preference in Quest.
Step 4: Verify your degree status
For step-by-step instructions, view the web page "How do I view my intention to graduate information?"
If you do not meet degree requirements and our office is unable to reach you, your intention to graduate form will be cancelled.
If you are a Master's or Doctoral graduate student, you should confirm with your department that you are qualified to graduate.
Step 5: Pay outstanding University accounts
Check whether you owe the University money (for parking fines, library fines, tuition balances, etc.) in Quest. Your diploma and transcript may be withheld, if outstanding fees aren't paid by
- June 1 for spring convocation
- October 1 for fall convocation
Step 6: Check your ceremony dates and times
Step 7: Reserve your gown
If you are participating in the convocation ceremony, you must wear an academic gown. Use the waterloostore's online reservation system to reserve your gown. Gowns are also available for rent in the small gymnasium in the PAC between
- 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. for morning ceremonies
- 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for afternoon ceremonies
The rental of a gown may be paid for by VISA, MasterCard, debit, or cash.
You will receive a degree hood during the ceremony and have the option to purchase it after the ceremony.
Other than renting your gown, there are no costs to participate in convocation.
Step 8: Invite your guests
Please limit your guests to five. Tickets, reservations, and RSVPs are not required. Friends and family may also enjoy watching the livestream ceremony online that broadcasts during the ceremony. Invite your guests to post their congratulation messages via the "CONVO-sation" twitter feed as described in Step 20.
Step 9: Arrange accommodation for accessibility needs
If you have accessibility needs and require special seating, an alternative to climbing the stairs to the Convocation stage, or other accommodations, please contact AccessAbility Services as soon as possible. AccessAbility staff will connect with the Convocation team to ensure your needs are met.
If any of your guests have difficulty with stairs or require mobility assistance (e.g., wheelchair), you may obtain two special seating tickets. Complete the seating request for guests with physical needs (web form). Special guest seating tickets are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Additional information for guests
Step 10: Book your studio portrait or class photo
Step 11: Order your diploma and/or portrait frame
Display your degree or portrait in a University of Waterloo frame. Order your frame in advance through Alumni Relations either online or purchase it on the day of your ceremony in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Student Life Centre. Pre-ordered frames can be picked up in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Life Centre on the day of your ceremony.
On convocation day
Step 12: What to wear
Depending on your academic gown, what you are wearing underneath will show, so don't be afraid to dress up. Suits or sports jackets and ties, dresses, and dress pants are all good choices. Please note that high heels may be unsafe when you're using the stairs beside the stage.
It is not appropriate to carry flowers, purses, or other articles in the convocation ceremony. We do not provide storage facilities so please leave these items with your guests for safe-keeping.
Step 13: Parking
On-campus parking is free in selected lots during Convocation. Signs will be posted one to two weeks before convocation. Every effort will be made to direct guests to parking areas as close as possible to the site of the ceremony. Guests with mobility concerns can be dropped off at the entrance of the Physical Activities Complex.
Step 14: Before the ceremony (Important)
Below are the activities you need to complete before the ceremony begins. You can find more information about each activity in Steps 16-18.
Schedule for morning ceremonies
|8:00 - 9:00 a.m.||Pay gown rental fees if you didn't reserve your gown in advance.
Pick up your gown.
|Small Gymnasium, PAC|
|9:00 a.m.||Pick up your line-up/name card from the designated tables.||Small Gymnasium, PAC|
|9:30 a.m.||Wearing your gown, line up by the sequence number listed on your line-up/name card (look for signs).||Small Gymnasium, PAC|
|9:50 a.m.||Procession from small gymnasium to main gymnasium.||PAC|
|10:00 a.m.||Ceremony begins.||Main Gymnasium, PAC|
Schedule for afternoon ceremonies
|11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.||
Pay gown rental fees if you didn't reserve your gown in advance.
Pick up your gown.
|PAC, small gymnasium|
|1:30 p.m.||Pick up your line-up/name card from the designated tables.||PAC, small gymnasium|
|2:00 p.m.||Wearing your gown, line up by the sequence number listed on your line-up/name card (look for signs).||PAC, small gymnasium|
|2:20 p.m.||Procession from small gymnasium to main gymnasium.||PAC|
|2:30 p.m.||Ceremony begins.||PAC, main gymnasium|
Step 15: Pick up or rent your gown
Pick up or rent your gown in the small gymnasium in the PAC between
- 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for morning ceremonies
- 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for afternoon ceremonies
Visa, MasterCard, and Debit are accepted for rentals.
An academic hood will be placed on your shoulders during the ceremony, symbolizing the granting of your degree. You will return this hood with your gown after the ceremony, unless you would like to purchase it.
Step 16: Pick up your line-up/name card
A line-up/name card has been prepared for you. Your card indicates your name and sequence number which is your position in the procession line, your order number for seating, and your order number to cross the stage. You will need to:
- Pick up your line-up/name card from the designated tables in the small gymnasium.
- Line up according to the sequence number on your card to ensure that you are positioned and seated in the correct order (alphabetical by program). Do not bend your line-up/name card.
- Keep your card in your hand as it is checked several times by attendants.
- Carry your line-up/name card with you as you:
- march in the procession line into the main gymnasium.
- give it to the attendant just before you go up the stairs to cross the stage. Your card will be placed in a camera so that your name can be read aloud as you cross the stage.
Do not leave your card on your chair. If you forget to carry your card with you to the stage, ask the stage attendant to make a card for you so that your name can be read aloud as you cross the stage.
Step 17: Line up to enter the convocation hall
Students, faculty, and dignitaries enter the convocation hall approximately 20 minutes before the ceremony. You need to be lined up by 9:30 a.m. for morning ceremonies and 2:00 p.m. for afternoon ceremonies.
- The convocation marshal will help you to line up according to the sequence number on your card to ensure that you are positioned and seated in the correct order (alphabetical by program). The marshal will also give you instructions about the procession and ceremony.
- Copies of the program are available in the small gym.
- You will proceed into the large gymnasium and be guided by an usher to the row where you will sit.
Please be punctual. If you are late, you may not be able to take part in the procession or receive your diploma at the ceremony. You will be seated in a separate area from your classmates for the remainder of the ceremony.
Step 18: Receive your degree
Here's what happens when you receive your degree:
- An usher will lead you to the stairs at the right side of the stage.
- As you approach the stage, an attendant standing off stage will drape your degree hood over your arm.
- You will give your line-up/name card to the stage marshal who will direct you when it is time to go up the stairs and onto the stage. If you are receiving an undergraduate or master's degree, you will march across the stage in groups of three. If you are receiving a doctorate, you will cross the stage one person at a time.
- You will stand facing either the University's President, Chancellor, or Vice-President, who will congratulate you while the hood is placed on your shoulders.
- You will cross the stage and exit by the stairs on the left side of the stage.
- At the bottom of the stairs, you'll receive your diploma from your faculty representative.
- Smile! Professional photos will be taken as you receive your diploma and against a backdrop in the photography area. Friends and family will also be able to take photos of you in this area.
- Ushers will guide you back to your seat.
Step 19: Join the "CONVO-sation"
Be a part of the "CONVO-sation" on Twitter with #uwaterloograd. Share your Waterloo memories, or read congratulatory messages from your friends and family. Messages will appear on a live Twitter feed during your ceremony and reception, courtesy of Alumni Relations.
After the ceremony
Step 20: Convocation receptions
Celebrate your graduation with your family and friends. A reception will be held immediately after your ceremony in the Great Hall of the Student Life Centre. Complimentary desserts and refreshments will be served.
Information about receptions hosted by faculties can be found on the receptions web page.
Step 21: Purchase or pick up your pre-ordered frame
Step 22: Return your gown and hood
Your family and friends will want to take photos of you in your academic gown and hood. Please remember, however, that you need to return your gown and hood to the small gymnasium in the Physical Activities Complex as soon as possible after the ceremony. Information on purchasing a degree hood or Phd regalia can be found on the waterloostore web page.
Step 23: Treat yourself to a graduation gift
Mark your time spent at Waterloo and graduation achievement with a gift. The waterloostore located in South Campus Hall offers a wide range of souvenirs and gifts.
Step 24: Being a Waterloo alumnus
Being a graduate, enters you into an exclusive club. As a Waterloo alumnus, you have access to services that support your success and perks that let you have a little fun along the way.