Candidate Information
Viterbo commencement


For students about to graduate, the Viterbo University commencement marks one of the biggest milestones in their lives to this point. This time-honored tradition has pomp, circumstance, and a lot of moving parts. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, students should familiarize themselves with the details of commencement. This page should cover most, if not all, the information needed.    

Graduation Requirements
  • DIPLOMA DATES: There are three possible diploma dates: December, May, and August
  • CEREMONY TO ATTEND: Students will attend the ceremony in the term for which their degree will be posted. Students completing their degree requirements in the fall will attend the December ceremony. Students completing their degree requirements in spring or summer will attend the May ceremony. Graduate Education Proseminar students will receive special registration materials and directions for applying for the ceremony held on campus during Proseminar week in July.
  • APPLYING FOR GRADUATION: All students who will complete their requirements in the fall semester must submit the application by Sept. 15 for the December ceremony. All students who will complete their requirements in the spring or summer semester must submit the application by Jan. 15 for the May ceremony. Graduate education Proseminar students graduating during Proseminar will be contacted by the education office and will submit the application when Proseminar materials are due. If your graduation date changes, contact the registrar’s office immediately. There are many implications to not correcting your graduation date, including financial aid issues.
  • DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: Review your degree requirements with your advisor prior to the end of the semester to ensure your requirements will be complete at the end of the semester. 
  • POSTING OF DEGREES: After the registrar's office does a final check of your requirements to determine completeness, degrees will be posted to your permanent record (transcript) after grades are submitted. Transcripts can be ordered online at any time. Be sure to indicate they are to be held for final grades/degree.
  • DIPLOMAS: Diplomas will be processed and mailed six to eight weeks after the final grades are due. A "student copy" transcript is mailed with the diploma. By applying for graduation, you are authorizing the release of the transcript with the diploma. If you have an outstanding encumbrance with the business office, your diploma and transcripts will not be mailed until the balance is paid in full.
Master of Arts in Education Graduation Candidates

This year, graduate students from across the Midwest who will complete work this summer on a Master of Arts in Education Degree have the opportunity to take part in the spring commencement ceremony.  

MAE students completing work on their degrees this summer will not gather on campus for their proseminar. Instead, it will be conducted virtually, with a Marking the Milestone recognition ceremony at the conclusion of proseminar.

Graduating with Honors

Honor medallions are a ceremonial piece given to bachelor degree candidates who have applied for graduation by the deadline date and have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50 as of Sept. 1 for the winter ceremony and Jan. 1 for the spring ceremony (spring and summer graduates.)

The candidate must also have or be projected to have a minimum of 45 letter-graded credits earned at Viterbo University upon degree completion. That is, if the candidate does not have a minimum of 45 credits as of the dates above but the credits earned as of the dates above plus registered credits equal a minimum of 45 credits, the candidate will be given an honor medallion. The student must be registered for credits in the graduation term, no later than Sept. 1 for winter commencement, and March 1 for spring commencement, which includes those completing requirements in the summer. 

Final honors are determined and confirmed after all grades have been issued and credit checks are completed. These honors are noted on the diploma and the transcript. Students are eligible for honors upon degree completion if they have earned the required number of semester hours on a letter-grade basis and have met the required grade point average.


Required Viterbo GPA Required Viterbo completed hours on a letter grade basis
Academic Distinction 3.50 Minimum of 45
Cum Laude 3.50

Minimum of 60

Magna Cum Laude 3.70 Minimum of 60
Summa Cum Laude 3.90 Minimum of 60
Preparing for Commencement

A Countdown to Commencement event is conducted in advance of graduation ceremonies in fall and spring semesters. This event offers a chance to take care of commencement related tasks, including picking up caps, gowns, and honors medallions, getting photographed in graduation regalia for the commencement slide show, ordering graduation announcements, and more.

Those unable to attend Countdown to Commencement should take the following steps:

  • Caps, gowns, and honors medallions can be picked up at the campus bookstore. If you are out of the area, call the bookstore at 608-782-4377 to have them mailed to you. Shipping charges will apply.
  • Email a photo to Courtney Steinke by April 28 to be included in the commencement slide show (see video below for an example). Most graduates have photos taken in their graduation regalia, but other photos are acceptable. Nursing graduates, for example, could submit their School of Nursing portraits. Submitted photos  should be high-resolution JPG files that are appropriate for a solemn occasion.
  • Customized graduation announcements, invitations, and class rings can be ordered online from Jostens
Ceremony Etiquette
  • A cap and gown (and hood for doctoral master candidates) are required academic apparel. Caps and gowns can be picked up at the Countdown to Commencement event or from the book store.
  • The cap should be worn so that the mortarboard is level and not cocked to either side or placed on the back of the head. The crown of the cap should come to approximately one inch above the eyebrows. The deeper portion of the crown is the back.
  • The gown should be pressed and worn with dark shoes. Women should not wear flowers, pins or other jewelry. A simple straight dress without a high neckline gives the best results. Men should wear a white shirt and tie that will compliment the gown. Coats may be left off for comfort. Nothing should be pinned or attached to the gown.
  • The tassel is worn on the right side before the degree is conferred. It is customary to change the tassel from the right to the left side after the degree is conferred. The president will direct you when to do this during the ceremony. 
  • The Viterbo Alumni Association will have a Quick Station at the commencement venue with convenience items available, such as bobby pins, extra tassels, breath mints, or a steamer to remove wrinkles in your gown. (To avoid wrinkles, it’s recommended gowns be taken out of packages well in advance of the ceremony).
Lining Up for Commencement
  • When you check in at the ceremony, you will be given a reader card by committee members. Carry this with you onto the stage and give to the reader at the first podium.
  • Do not carry anything else with you into the arena at the ceremony.
  • Do not chew gum.
    • For May ceremony at La Crosse Center:  Check-in tables will be to the left of the main Second Street entrance. Line up in the south concourse under the sign for your degree and in alphabetical order. Be in line no later than 12:15 p.m.
    • For December ceremony at Viterbo University Fine Arts Center: Check-in tables will be on the second floor (use west stairwell and follow signs). Line up in the second floor hallway under the sign for your degree in alphabetical order. Be lined up no later than 1:15 p.m.
Ceremony Instructions
  • Graduates will be led into the main arena and to their seats by the faculty council chair. Marshals will direct you to fill in the rows of the arena. Fill in ALL chairs. All graduates should stand in front of their chair and wait until the music has finished.

  • A marshal will give you a commencement program as you are seated.

  • A marshal will indicate to your row when to stand for the presentation of candidates.

  • Proceed to the steps on the right side of the stage. Do not wait at the bottom of steps.  

  • Hand your reader card to the reader to announce your name.  (Master and proseminar students will present your hood to the person hooding and then turn and face the audience.)
  • Proceed to the table, accept your diploma cover from the president with your left hand, and shake her right hand with your right hand. The photographer will take your picture at this time—stop, shake, and smile!   
  • Move on to the Board of Trustees chair who will congratulate you and shake your hand, then to the alumni representative who will present you with an alumni pin and also shake your hand.
  • Continue off the stage where a second photo will be taken.
  • A marshal will assist you back to your row. 
  • Follow the directions from the marshals for the recessional. Graduates are the last group to leave during the recessional.
Commencement Photography
Contacts If You Have Questions

SPECIAL ACCOMODATIONS: If you or a guest are in need of special accommodations for attending the commencement ceremony, contact Jane Eddy, director/ADA coordinator, at 608-796-3194 or

REGISTRAR'S OFFICE: If your name does not appear on the list of Candidates for Graduation or you have questions about applying for graduation, contact Nancy Oelke at 608-796-3183 or

COMMENCEMENT COMMITTEE: If you have additional questions regarding the commencement ceremony or activities surrounding commencement, contact Registrar Kori Salaski at 608-796-3185 or