Student Instructions for Commencement

Expanded Commencement Program to be available online

SUNY Fredonia seeks to integrate sustainability into all aspects of campus life, and we are committed to promoting environmental awareness and responsibility in institutional choices. As such, the campus will not print the full program for the Commencement ceremonies. Guests and graduates will receive a short guide to the ceremony as they arrive in Steele Hall, which will have a QR code to access the full program. A link to the program will be posted at the left side of this page just prior to Commencement day.

_ Complete Application for Degree and turn form into Registrar's Office; 1st Floor, Reed Library

_ Make sure local and permanent addresses are up-to-date in Your Connection.

_ Fill out Commencement Participation Form through Your Connection

_ Pick up tickets/make arrangements to distribute to family members before Commencement

_ Purchase/order cap and town

_Attend Commencement Rehearsal on Friday, May 17, 2024 at 4 p.m. in the Steele Hall Fieldhouse

The awarding of a degree or certificate and eligibility for participation in Commencement can only occur if you take these necessary steps. Application for Degree forms are available in the Registrar's Office or online and must be completed and on file by Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. August and December 2023 graduates who have already applied and did not participate in the 2023 Commencement ceremonies need not re-apply for their degree.

If you expect to complete your degree requirements in J-term 2025 or later, and have extenuating circumstances which will preclude you from participating in Commencement 2025, you may complete the online Appeal Form before Wednesday, April 8, 2024, to be considered to participate in Commencement 2024. 

Students should be aware the Diploma Name entered on your Application for Degree is the name that will appear in on your diploma, in the Commencement program, in any official news release, and on the Reader Card for the ceremony. Those in the Chosen Name program can select a Chosen Name option instead when completing the Commencement Intent to Participate Form. Reader Cards may also be edited on Commencement day.

It is important that you report any change in address to the Registrar's Office. There is a form which must be completed and signed for change in permanent address, and a change in your local address can be reported through Your Connection. If you wish your diploma sent to an address other than your permanent/local address, you must contact the Registrar's Office prior to Commencement. It is important to keep Fredonia informed of your contact information, especially through the degree review process.

Even though you are receiving instructions on this website, you MUST attend Commencement rehearsal.

Commencement Intent to Participate Form

Starting on March 6, 2024, students will be able to access the Commencement Intent to Participate form on Your Connection if they have submitted their Degree Application to the Registrar's Office. On the form, students have the ability to select up to 4 tickets, and request up to 4 additional tickets. Students can only make this selection one time. The final deadline to complete this form to receive tickets and participate in the ceremony is Wednesday, May 15.

The number of tickets available for both ceremonies will be based on the legal and safe seating capacity for the fieldhouse. The university reserves the right to limit the number of tickets distributed for each ceremony.

Where can I pick up my tickets?

On Friday, April 19, ticket distribution will begin in the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center. Ticket office hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Students must bring valid photo ID, FREDcards are preferred. Tickets will only be given to students, not family members. All tickets will be distributed at that time (original tickets and extras).

How much do tickets cost?

Tickets are free to graduates. Photo identification is required to obtain tickets at the ticket office.

How many tickets will I receive?

Graduates will receive up to 4 tickets to Commencement. Students will also be able to request up to an additional 4 tickets when they fill out the online Commencement Intent to Participate form (see above).

What if I can't get to the ticket office during the week?

There will be opportunities to pick up tickets at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center on Friday, May 17, beginning at 9 a.m., and after the Commencement rehearsal, until 6 p.m. Tickets can also be obtained in the natatorium lobby on Commencement day.

How do I know what time my ceremony is?

Your ceremony time (morning or afternoon) is assigned according to the major that you list first on your Degree Application FormYou will only be able to choose a ceremony if you are receiving concurrent (dual) degrees - that is, if you have fulfilled the requirements for two separate and distinct bachelor's degrees (B.A. and B.S., B.A. and B.F.A., Mus.B. and B.S., etc.). Having two different majors does not entitle you to select a ceremony. Tickets will be marked for each ceremony.

Commencement Ticket Policy

The members of the Commencement Committee and the University President have established the following policy on the distribution of tickets for Commencement.

1.  Commencement tickets are not considered a salable commodity; they are free to degree candidates. Concurrent degree students (i.e. those receiving two bachelor's degrees during the same semester) are entitled to one set of tickets. Tickets will be given only to students, not family members. To comply with Fire Code regulations, all persons, regardless of age, are required to have a ticket to enter the Steele Hall Fieldhouse (this includes infants and small children). 

2.  Students who do not plan to participate in Commencement should not pick up tickets.

3.  Commencement tickets may not be sold. Offenders will be referred to the University's Office of Student Conduct, and records will be held until any penalties are satisfied.

4.  Students who pick up tickets for Commencement are not entitled to tickets for another Commencement at a later date unless they are obtaining another degree; i.e. bachelor's graduates who participated in Commencement are entitled to tickets if they have earned a master's degree (or advanced certificate). Students requesting extra tickets for Commencement will have an opportunity through Your Connection to request additional tickets, subject to availability. Students should be sure they know the number of extra tickets they need before completing the Commencement Intent to Participate form.

5.  Students who have picked up tickets for Commencement, and, because of unforeseen circumstances do not plan to use them, must return the tickets to the Commencement Chair for redistribution. These students will not be eligible to receive tickets for a later Commencement if they have not returned the first set of tickets.

6.  Students should make sure family members are aware of which ceremony they will be attending.

Special Commencement Items - Commencement is certainly a time for joy and celebration, but unfortunately, in the past, the use of alcohol has contributed to situations where students and their families found their enjoyment of Commencement compromised. With this in mind, the Commencement Committee reminds you of the University Alcohol Policy specifically as it relates to Commencement. No alcoholic beverages are to be brought into Dods or Steele hall. Alcoholic beverage containers found in Dods, Steele, or during the processional will be confiscated and not returned. Students who arrive at the ceremony under the influence of alcohol may be removed from the line of march. Please remember the delicate combination of joy and solemnity appropriate to such an occasion and act accordingly. Family, friends and classmates will appreciate your efforts.

We would also like to remind you that Commencement begins and ends with a formal processional/recessional of which we want you to be a part. The last student to cross the platform is as deserving of your attention as the first. Please plan your day's activities so that you and your guests are able to remain in the Steele Hall Fieldhouse throughout the entire ceremony.

The Commencement Committee of SUNY Fredonia supports the wearing of cords, medallions, stoles, and insignia at Commencement ceremonies by students who have earned these privileges. Privileges are earned through achieving academic honors, completing honors programs, as recipients of designated academic scholarship funds, academic unit or departmental honors, military service, induction into college-recognized honors societies, athletic distinction, or membership in good standing in college-recognized professional, social, special interest, or service organizations, as well as students with an international affiliation.

Academic Honors

Medals, medallions, and gold tassels/cords are reserved for the highest academic honors: Lanford Presidential Prize, SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence, and the Honors Program. Gold cords are specific to academic achievement. 


      Gold cord for undergraduates graduating with Latin honors: Reserved for students graduating with academic distinction (3.30–4.0 GPA). Notification to eligible students is provided by the Academic Affairs Office or Commencement Committee in March. Undergraduate students who have attained high scholastic achievement are eligible to graduate with Latin honors, which are indicated to the right of the student’s major in the official program. Students graduating Cum Laude (C) have a final cumulative quality point average of 3.30 to 3.49; Magna Cum Laude (M), 3.50 through 3.69; and Summa Cum Laude (S), 3.70 or higher. Academic Latin honors gold cords will be distributed through the campus bookstore. Honors Program gold tassels will be distributed through the Honors Program. There is no honors designation for graduate level students.

      Red, white, and blue cord: Reserved to recognize honorably discharged U.S. veteran students, current students serving in the U.S. military (active duty, National Guard, Reserves), and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) students commissioned upon graduation. Cords will be distributed through SUNY Fredonia’s Veterans Affairs Office.

      Medals: The student awarded the Lanford Presidential Prize will receive a medal during the Commencement ceremony. Students awarded the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence will receive their medals in Albany during the spring prior to Commencement and will be honored during the Commencement ceremony. Only these students may wear medals/medallions at Commencement.

Student Organizations, Departments, and Honor Societies: College-recognized honors societies, athletic distinction, or membership in good standing in college-recognized professional, social, special interest, or service organizations, as well as students with an international affiliation, are eligible to request approval to wear cords, stoles, or pins at Commencement. If and after the request is approved, all cords, stoles, or pins must be secured through the student organization or department.

Administrative and Financial Support

Funding for the following are at no cost to the graduate. They are covered by the campus and SUNY Administration: 

  • Gold Academic (Latin) Honors cords
  • Red, white, and blue cords for honorably discharged U.S. veteran students, current students serving in the U.S. military (active duty, National Guard, Reserves), and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) students commissioned upon graduation.
  • Lanford Presidential Prize medal
  • SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence Medals

Guidelines for Honors Program Gold Tassel

Students accepted to the Fredonia Honors Program enjoy many benefits throughout their undergraduate experience. In addition to the one-time Honors Scholarship ($1,500) awarded to new first-year and transfer Honors students, Honors students in good standing with the program enjoy priority course registration and invitations to exclusive enrichment events and guest speakers. Honors students also enjoy distinctive forms of recognition, from the opportunity to reside in Honors Housing, a unique live-learn community, to eligibility for the Honors Student of the Month Award. These opportunities are open to all current Honors students in good standing within the program.

Graduating Honors students who have successfully met the following three requirements of the Fredonia Honors Program will have their name specially listed in the Commencement program and will also receive a gold tassel to wear on their mortarboard at Commencement:

  • The student has successfully completed the required Honors Program curriculum, including the senior project. 
  • The student has successfully maintained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30.
  • Students must be in good standing with the university with no pending ethics violations or student conduct concerns.

Only qualifying Honors graduates will sport a gold tassel on their mortarboard at Commencement.

Each spring, the Honors Program will review the academic standing of all Honors students who have applied for graduation to see whether they qualify for these forms of distinction. If you have a question about your eligibility, please email

Master's Degree and Advanced Certificate Students

Master’s degree graduates are responsible for purchasing their discipline-appropriate hoods, typically through the college Bookstore.

The same policies regarding regalia accessories for bachelor’s graduates pertains to master’s degree graduates.

Aside from Commencement

Programs and organizations may distribute and award honors certificates, regalia, and accessories during their individual ceremonies and meetings as they choose. The above guidelines identify which honors cords, medals, medallions, and accessories are sanctioned for wearing during the Commencement ceremony.

The Faculty Student Association Bookstore in University Commons will provide caps and gowns, which are required for Commencement. You may purchase the required academic apparel at the Bookstore. Bookstore hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Saturday, 1 until 5 p.m. Students can purchase their regalia starting Monday, March 18, and can also place an order online.

The special package includes cap, tassel and gown (Master's package includes hood). Merchandise will be available in the Bookstore from Monday, March 18 until Saturday, May 18 (Commencement Day). Limited quantities and sizes will be available, so early purchase is recommended. The Bookstore will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Commencement Day.

Appropriate footwear is required of all participants.

2024 Prices

Graduation Cap $19.50

Tassel $10.00 plus tax

Master Hood $37.50

A Bachelor Package at $63.75 includes tax - includes gown, tassel and cap.

A Master Package at $104.79 includes tax - includes gown, tassel, cap and hood.

When you arrive at the Dods Hall gymnasium on Saturday, May 18, no later than 9 a.m. for the morning ceremony and 2 p.m. for the afternoon ceremony, please pick up your (name) Reader Card at the appropriate table, according to the first initial of your last name. The card is used to pronounce your name, and you cannot cross the platform without it. If your name is difficult to pronounce, please write it phonetically on the card. A card will only be available to you for your assigned ceremony (see list on this website). Likewise, tickets for your guests will color coded to reflect your assigned ceremony.

Carrying Your Hood or Stole

Master's Degree Candidates: You will wear your cap and gown and drape your hood over your arm.

Wear the mortarboard square on your head, parallel to the ceiling. The tassel should be on the left front side signifying you hold a bachelor's degree. You will march in carrying your master's hood over your right forearm. The velvet trim will be closest to your hand with the narrowest (triangular) section of the hood to the outside. This will ensure that when you extend your arm during hooding, the "hooder" will grasp the section of the hood that goes over your head.

Advanced Certificate Candidates: You will wear your cap, gown, and appropriate master's hood (if you already have your master's degree). Wear the mortarboard square on your head, parallel to the ceiling. The tassel should be on the left front side, signifying you hold a bachelor's degree.

Hooding instructions
Gown and hooding instructions.

Only Undergraduates are eligible to wear gold honors cords. The only exception is for multi degree students, who are receiving bachelor's and master's degrees at the same Commencement.

Processional Order

Student Marshals, Master's/Advanced Certificate Candidates, Bachelor's Candidates, Faculty Marshals, Faculty/Staff, Mace Bearer, Platform Party


Follow the Student Marshals in a line two abreast. The two single lines will divide and go to separate rows of seats. Note: If you wish to sit next to someone, make sure they are directly ahead or behind you, not next to you, in the procession. Please follow the usher's instructions and fill in all seats in each row.


When you reach your seat, please remain standing for the opening reflection and national anthem.  After the opening reflection and national anthem, please be seated. 

Conferral of Degrees

The Executive Vice President and Provost will tell respective candidates (first master's and advanced certificate, then bachelor's) when to stand. President Stephen H. Kolison Jr. confers the degrees. Ushers will instruct you when and how to proceed across the platform. Give your (name) Reader Card to the appropriate person, proceed across the platform, receive your diploma case, shake hands with President Kolison, walk down the ramp and return to your seat (after having your photo taken at the bottom with the ramp with your diploma - ushers will guide you through this). Master's candidates will be hooded. The procedure will be explained during the May 17 rehearsal.

Children of graduates are not allowed to participate in the processional/recessional, nor are children permitted to cross the stage with the graduates.

If graduates do not have family members available to supervise children during the ceremony, they must make other child care arrangements.


The recessional follows the singing of the Alma Mater. Students will process out in the same order as they processed in (front to back), so back row students do no leave first. When the music begins, the recessional proceeds in this order: Mace Bearer, Platform Party, Faculty Marshals, Faculty/Staff, Student Marshals, Master's/Advanced Certificate Graduates and Bachelor's Graduates. To avoid a bottleneck, it is imperative that the recessional line keeps moving in an orderly manner.

Will be mailed out in early July to the permanent (home) address.

If you have been nominated or are a member of a departmental or other honor society, please note the deadlines stated in any material you receive regarding payment of required fees or other required actions. Inclusion in the Commencement program under a particular society is dependent upon students following instructions and meeting deadlines as stated by the department/adviser. Examples of such societies (not inclusive) include Golden Key International Honour Society, Psi Chi, Alpha Kappa Delta, Beta Gamma Sigma, Kappa Delta Pi and Pi Mu Epsilon.

If you decide not to participate in a Commencement ceremony this year, you should indicate this on the Commencement Participation Form through Your Connection. If you pick up tickets and decide at a later date not to participate, you must return the tickets to the Fredonia Campus Ticket Office in order for you to be eligible to receive tickets to a future ceremony.

Individuals with Special Needs who may need accommodations are requested to contact the Commencement Committee as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Please contact the Commencement Chair Rachel Martin at (716) 673-3143 to arrange for assistance.

Assistive Listening Devices are available, contact Ms. Martin for more information.

The Commencement Committee and the Senior Class President will disseminate information via a senior listserv throughout the year to graduates about Commencement and other activities. Unless otherwise directed, emails will be sent to your Fredonia email address. To use an email account other than your Fredonia email, contact the Commencement Chair to add your preferred email address.

If you wish to have any Family mailings sent to a second address, please contact the Commencement Chair as soon as possible and the second address will be added to our database.

A professional photographer will be taking photographs of each  graduate as they are recognized during the ceremony. This does not represent an endorsement by Fredonia and there is no obligation to purchase. It is a service provided to Fredonia graduates, families and guests.

Information supplied by the vendor:

GradImages® is proud to support one of the biggest moments in a graduate’s life: walking across the stage and into the next chapter. With over 40 years of experience, we understand the importance of this moment and the desire to preserve these memories for a lifetime. Finding your graduate’s photos after the ceremony is easy. Visit online to view and purchase custom photo products like prints, plaques, specialty gifts, and more.

You can also pre-register your contact information using the direct link below. Upon completion, you will receive a coupon code for 20% off an order of $50 or more.

If have any questions or concerns regarding your photos, please contact the Customer Service Department at (800) 261-2576, online or email. We have a large team of customer care representatives ready to help graduates and family members with anything they may need.

Special Message to Graduates: Following each ceremony, the Blue Lounge and Patio area at the Williams Center will be available for you to meet with faculty members and take photographs if you wish.

There will be live streaming of both Commencement ceremonies. More information will be posted on this page on Commencement day. 

Following the ceremonies, a recording will be made available on the Commencement website.

Commencement is an occasion for a delicate mix of joy and solemnity. The consumption of alcohol in the Steele Hall Fieldhouse is neither acceptable nor condoned, and university policy on alcohol consumption will be strictly enforced.

Graduates can continue to use their Fredonia email addresses for two years after graduation.

Fredonia is pleased to accommodate individuals with Special Needs. This balcony-level seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis and we ask that you arrive early in order to secure Special Needs seating if needed. The top row of bleachers will also be reserved for our special guests and their families.

Please also note that each entrant into the Steele Hall Fieldhouse must have their own individual ticket. For example, if the person with Special Needs requires an attendant, both persons much have a color-coded ticket for entry. There are no special tickets for Special Needs guests. Tickets must come from the student's initial allotment.

We realize that the majority of our Commencement guests will be parking in areas requiring some walking to the Steele Hall Fieldhouse.

We encourage people to park in Lot #9 adjacent to University Stadium off Ring Road, and use the shuttle bus provided to be transported to the venue.

For those choosing to walk, there is a wide paved path from the University Stadium lot to the Steele Hall fieldhouse. 

Arriving early on campus is strongly suggested; doors to the venue will open at 8:45 a.m. for the morning ceremony and at 2 p.m. for the afternoon ceremony. 

With the exception of those holding Special Needs parking permits, there will be limited parking available in the immediate Dods/Steele hall area.

Following each ceremony, a bus will be available to transport guests back to parking areas.

Paramount in our planning is the knowledge that this is a very special day for graduates and their guests. The entire Fredonia family wishes to create a safe, enjoyable and memorable day for you and your guests.

For information on area restaurants, see this guide.

Take the next step