Frequently Asked Questions

FAll 2020 Virtual Commencement

Why is the university holding a Virtual Commencement this fall?

On September 23, the State University System of Florida directed all 12 member institutions, including the University of South Florida, to develop alternate Commencement plans, including those that may have been rescheduled spring or summer ceremonies. We know that a virtual celebration will never replace a traditional, in-person ceremony, but we are committed to inviting back all of our affected graduates for a future traditional Commencement whenever it is safe and allowable to do so. 

When will the university hold its Virtual Commencement this semester?

 Our Fall 2020 Virtual Commencement will be held on Saturday, December 12 at 9 a.m. Each of our 14 colleges will have its own ceremony and they all will be available for viewing beginning at 9 a.m. Ceremonies will be available for immediate replay so there is no need to tune in immediately at 9 a.m.

Do I need to register to be part of the Virtual Commencement?

Bachelor’s, master’s and specialist students who applied to graduate online by the Registrar’s Office deadline of September 21 will automatically be included in the Virtual Commencement and the program with the list of graduates. Because of the extreme circumstances with the continued COVID-19 pandemic, we have extended the timeframe in which student names can be included in the Virtual Commencement. Bachelor’s, master’s and specialist students who apply through the Registrar’s Office via OASIS to graduate by October 2 will be eligible to have their name included in the Virtual Commencement, but their name will not be included in the program or have accurate bachelor’s GPA honors status notated.

PhD and EdD students will be included if they meet the ETD submission deadline and requirements, and AuD, DBA, DPT, DNP, PharmD and DrPH students should contact their program advisor to ensure they meet the necessary qualifications for inclusion.

Questions about the graduation application should be directed to the Registrar’s Office

Remember that students’ names will only appear in the Virtual Commencement ceremony and program if they meet the above requirements and they have the correct privacy settings set over their student records allowing the university to publish their name.

Can I attend a future in-person Commencement?

Yes, we are committed to inviting back all of our affected graduates for a future traditional Commencement whenever it is safe and allowable to do so, which includes all graduates from the spring, summer and fall of 2020.

Can I still purchase regalia and other graduation items?

Yes, regalia can continue to be purchased from the USF Bookstore and announcements, class rings and diploma frames can be purchased from Herff Jones. Please note that any return or refund policies are that of the individual vendor and not that of the university or Commencement Office.

Special Note: The information found below applies to traditional, in-person Commencement ceremonies. Information regarding special Virtual Commencement ceremonies can be found on the relevant updates for that semester.

Venue and Ceremony

Where are the Commencement ceremonies held?

The University of South Florida hosts ceremonies in three different locations for our different campuses: the Yuengling Center for Tampa campus students, the Mahaffey Theater for St. Petersburg campus students, and the Bradenton Area Convention Center for Sarasota-Manatee campus students.

Is parking free?

Parking is free at the Yuengling Center (Tampa campus ceremonies) and the Bradenton Area Convention Center (Sarasota-Manatee campus ceremonies). Parking at The Mahaffey Theater (St. Petersburg campus ceremonies) is controlled by the city of St. Petersburg and is available for a fee; lots and garages on the St. Petersburg campus are free the day of Commencement.

Does each venue have ADA seating and accommodations?

Yes, each venue offers ADA seating for guests and graduates. For more information please contact your campus’ Commencement staff.

What time should graduates and guests arrive?

Doors at the Yuengling Center (Tampa campus ceremonies) and the Bradenton Area Convention Center (Sarasota-Manatee campus ceremonies) open for graduates and guests 90 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. Doors to The Mahaffey Theater (St. Petersburg campus ceremonies) open 90 minutes prior for graduates and 60 minutes prior for guests. Graduates for all campuses should arrive no later than 60 minutes prior to the start of their ceremony.

How long does the ceremony usually last?

Ceremonies for all USF Commencements last approximately 90 minutes to two hours.

Are ceremonies streamed online?

Ceremonies at the Tampa campus inside the Yuengling Center are live streamed on the USF website. Ceremonies at the Mahaffey Theater (St. Petersburg campus ceremonies) and Bradenton Area Convention Center (Sarasota-Manatee campus ceremonies) are recorded and posted online after the ceremonies have ended.

Are tickets required for guests?

Guests attending Commencement for the Tampa campus at the Yuengling Center and Sarasota-Manatee campus at the Bradenton Area Convention Center are not required to have tickets. Due to the size of the venue for St. Petersburg campus Commencement ceremonies, The Mahaffey Theater, guests are required to have tickets for entry; students must pre-register their guests to receive their tickets. For questions about the St. Petersburg campus ticket policy, please email the Campus Commencement Coordinator.

Student Questions

What do I need to do to attend Commencement?

RSVP for the appropriate ceremony for your degree and college at least one week prior to the ceremony and purchase official regalia from the USF Bookstore.

When do I need to apply for graduation?

Graduation application deadlines are set by the Registrar’s Office and are typically due approximately four weeks after the first day of class. Students should be sure to check with their academic advisor for any other requirements they may have and specific deadlines related to their graduation.

Will I receive a program at the Commencement ceremony?

Each graduate will receive one program free program from the ceremony. If available, extra programs are handed out free at the USF Bookstore beginning the Monday after the ceremony, while supplies last. Programs are not distributed to guests, however, electronic versions are available online and can be found by scanning the QR codes located throughout each venue.

How do I know if my name is in the program?

Names that appear in the Commencement program are of students who have applied to graduate before the application deadline. Please note that graduation registration and Commencement RSVP submission are not the same things. You will also need to make sure you have not elected for total privacy on your student account prior to the deadline. Doctoral candidate names in the program are provided by the Office of Graduate Studies based on the students who complete the ETD process on time and also successfully defend their dissertation.

Names appear only in the program for the semester that you apply to graduate and officially meet your degree requirements. For example, a student graduating in summer but who attends Commencement in spring will not find their name in the spring program; their name will be listed in the summer program as an official summer graduate.

When will I receive my diploma?

Diplomas are mailed to students approximately six to eight weeks after the end of the semester. Questions about diplomas should be directed to the Registrar’s Office.