Frequently Asked Questions

Virtual Commencement 2020

As previously announced on March 24, in light of COVID 19, we are having a Virtual Commencement on May 23. On that day, President Shirley Ann Jackson will confer degrees upon the graduates of the Class of 2020 through a Virtual Commencement. This enables the students who have worked so hard to achieve this milestone to still graduate on time and move forward with their lives. The Virtual Commencement will last approximately 80 minutes and during that time, viewers will hear from President Jackson, special guest Senator Chuck Schumer, the provost, deans of each school, and the undergraduate and graduate class presidents. A link for viewing the event will be shared via email and social media and available on the university home page in advance of the event. It will also be available for later viewing on YouTube and the university website. An event program will be posted for download and also sent via email to students and their parents prior to Commencement.

Commencement FAQs

I’m still on campus. May I pick up my diploma in person?
Students should make sure their diploma mailing address is up to date on SIS.  If you need to change the diploma address, send updated information to

I am still unsure of my graduation status.
Students who have questions about their graduation status should contact or their department Degree Clearance officer.

Who are the speakers?
A program outlining the details of Virtual Commencement will be available for download and also sent to students and parents via email on the morning of May 23. Speakers will include President Jackson, Senator Chuck Schumer, school deans, and the undergraduate and graduate class presidents.

Is this event live?
In light of the unpredictable nature of the COVID pandemic, the event has been prerecorded to ensure all speakers could participate.

Will the related commencement activities such as department events, Colloquy, the school ceremonies, and ROTC commissioning ceremonies take place?
Any in-person events such as status check, the Commencement picnic, Colloquy, school ceremonies, and other events will not take place. As plans for our online ceremony are finalized, details will be made available on the commencement website. 

Will there be an on-campus event at some point?
When the public health situation allows us to do so, we will come together in person to celebrate our graduates, and to express our pride in their successes and our gratitude for the sacrifices they have made for our collective well-being.

Can I view Commencement later?
Yes, you will be able to view on YouTube and

Who do I contact if I have questions about my graduation clearance?
Please contact your adviser who can confirm if you are on the right track. You can also contact your Degree Clearance Officer or the Registrar’s Office via email:

When will I know if I am graduating in Spring 2020?
The preliminary review will be complete by April 24, 2020. The final review is done a few days after grades are submitted.

How can new graduates stay in touch with their class?
The Rensselaer Office of Alumni Relations will be in touch with graduates of the Class of 2020.

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