Graduation FAQs

Do I need to apply to graduate?

Yes, graduation is not automatic. Students must formally apply to graduate to begin the graduation certification process. Students are responsible for submitting an Application for Degree reflecting the semester in which they plan to graduate.

To be eligible for graduation, students (undergraduate and graduate) must apply no later than the published Application for Degree deadline listed in the Academic Calendar.

For all students, the Application for Degree process is automated and online via ESTHER.

Does Rice charge a graduation application fee? Is there a fee to apply to graduate?

While many colleges and universities charge a graduation application fee, Rice does not. There is no fee to submit an Application for Degree if submitted by the published deadline listed in the Academic Calendar. However, please be advised that applications received late and after the deadline are charged a $100 Late Application Fee.

I’m a graduate student. The degree for which I’m applying does not appear on the Application for Degree in ESTHER. What do I do?

Please send an email to the Office of the Registrar at with the missing degree information.

This situation typically applies to doctoral (PhD) students seeking to complete an application for degree for a candidacy master’s degree. Please email the Office of the Registrar at so that the missing degree can be added to your record.

I tried to apply online but received an error message. What should I do now?

Send an email to and provide information about the error message you received.

For example, the "No curricula available for graduation application" is an error message.

What can I expect after I've applied to graduate?

Once your Application for Degree has been submitted and processed, you will receive a system-generated notification sent to your Rice email address.

There are a series of degree certification reviews that take place. The first review is to audit university graduation requirements (such as FWIS, Distribution (I/II/III), Analyzing Diversity, and LPAP). These are reviewed by the Office of the Registrar. The second review is to audit the requirements of your declared major(s), and where applicable, declared minor(s) or certificates. This is done by the appropriate offering department or program.

Degree Works is Rice University's official electronic degree audit system. As an applied degree candidate, it is highly recommended that you monitor your degree progress in Degree Works throughout your final year. You should also check your Rice email account regularly for any important messages. You will be informed if there are any issues with your degree requirements.

Your Degree Works degree audit will remain under review until your final semester's Last Day of Classes.

After final grades are posted, the final graduation degree certification review begins and final graduation status is determined. The Office of the Registrar will verify that all degree requirements have been met.

How do I know if I am approved to graduate?

Students who have met all degree requirements upon final grades submission and review will have their graduation status changed from "PN" (Pending Final Grades/Review) to "AG" (Approved to Graduate).

You may review your graduation status online via ESTHER in Degree Works.

Near the top of the Degree Works audit, student information is listed, including "Graduation Status". This status indicates at what point the student is on, in the process of seeking a degree, applying for graduation, and being awarded a degree by Rice University.

Please visit the Degree Works student FAQs page for more information on our website at

I completed my degree requirements in December. Do I need to do anything special to attend the May Commencement?

December graduate degree recipients are eligible and encouraged to participate in the annual commencement ceremony. Unless you notified us that you will not be participating, we expect your attendance at the May commencement.

For commencement marching details, undergraduates should contact their college coordinator and graduate students should contact their department coordinator.

Information for graduates may be found on Rice University's official commencement web page at

I'm graduating in the Summer or Fall. Can I participate in both the December and May Commencement Ceremonies?

No. Graduates can participate (and "walk across the stage") in one Commencement Ceremony, either in December or May. Students graduating in Summer or Fall have the option of participating in the December Commencement Ceremony, or may choose to wait and participate in the Spring Commencement Ceremony, in the following May. Graduates are asked to inform the Office of the Registrar by e-mail to let them know which ceremony they desire to participate in.

Information for graduates may be found on Rice University's official Commencement web page at

If I am unsuccessful with my graduation attempt, do I complete another application to apply for a future semester?

Yes, you are responsible for submitting a new graduation application reflecting the semester in which you plan to graduate.

I applied for graduation but need to apply for a different term. How do I change my application for graduation?

If you need to change your graduation term/date, please send a message from your Rice email account to

Can I graduate if I have an incomplete (INC) grade?

No. Incomplete grades cannot be given if you are a degree candidate.

I owe Rice University money. How will that affect my graduation?

If you have a billing or financial hold on your record because you owe money to the university, you will not be able to receive a diploma, degree verification, or a transcript until the hold is resolved and released.

When will I receive my diploma?

Please see the Obtaining Your Diploma page at

How do I verify my diploma information?
  1. Login to ESTHER.
  2. Go to Student Services and Account Information > Graduation
  3. Click on Verify Diploma Information > Diploma Name and Address

If you wish to update your diploma name and/or the address where your diploma will be sent, please enter the updated information under the corresponding degree and click submit.

Where can I get information about commencement?

Information for degree candidates, schedule of events, and FAQs may be found on the Commencement website at

The schedule of events and ceremonies typically stays the same year after year.

If the information that you are looking for is not listed on the Commencement website, you may send an email to

Degree candidates should contact their college or department coordinator for additional information.