FAQ about Commencement 2020

Updated: March 24, 2020

Given the current challenges we’re all facing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to postpone all USC in-person commencement 2020 activities. We’re still ironing out the details but we plan to hold a virtual conferring of student degrees in May. We also will have an in-person, on-campus celebration that will take place when travel and large group events once again become safe.

Firm plans for the on-campus event will not be possible until more is known about the advance of the pandemic, but we are certain that our original planned date of May 15, 2020 is no longer feasible. We announced this decision in a letter to the USC community on March 20, 2020 so you could cancel your travel plans. We will continue to communicate with you in the coming weeks, and we will keep you posted on our decisions.

We look forward to honoring our students, their achievements, and contributions and to celebrating with everyone’s friends and families. Commencement at USC is always very special, bringing 65,000 to 80,000 people of all ages from around the world—Trojans together—to celebrate in joyful ceremonies and events across the university. We are determined to find a way to celebrate together in this same spirit—but to do so safely.

Below are answers to questions we have been receiving. If you have any additional questions, please send an email to acevents@usc.edu.

Ceremony Information

Are the May 2020 commencement activities canceled?

They have been postponed to take place in-person on a later date.

When will the May 2020 on-campus commencement activities take place?

Firm plans for the on-campus event will not be solidified until more is known about the advance of the pandemic. We will continue to be in communication about this in the coming weeks.

How will I be notified about the updated schedule for the postponed commencement activities?

All updates will be posted on the commencement website as soon as they are available, and parents will receive an email from the Office of the President with details once the date is set.

Is my school ceremony postponed or just the main ceremony?

All 2020 commencement activities are postponed, including the main ceremony, baccalaureate and honorary degrees dinners, all 32 satellite ceremonies, Ph.D. hooding ceremonies, award ceremonies, induction ceremonies, cultural celebrations, and receptions.

I am scheduled to graduate in May 2020, will I still graduate on May 15, 2020?

Degrees will be virtually conferred on May 15 by the president and provost.

What does “virtual conferring of degrees” mean?

We are still in the process of working through the details of how this will be hosted and what the program will include. What we can tell you is it will be online and inclusive for all 2020 graduates. More information will be shared as soon as it is available.

Do I need to register to have my degree virtually conferred?

All 2020 graduates will be eligible.

If I already registered for May 2020, will that carry over to the newly scheduled ceremony?

Once the commencement activities have been rescheduled, all schools will send out new registrations to confirm attendance.

I am a May 2020 graduate, will I still get my diploma?

Diplomas will be mailed to your permanent address approximately six weeks after you graduate on May 15, 2020.

How do I get my diploma cover?

Diploma covers will be handed out at the rescheduled school ceremonies. Each school will have a process for students that are unable to attend the rescheduled ceremonies. We will update with additional information as soon as it is available. 



How and where do I return my already purchased cap and gown?

The bookstore can assist with returns. For more information, please visit the Herff Jones return website: herffjones.com/collegereturns 

Am I allowed to come to campus and take pictures in my regalia?

In accordance with the order issued by Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles, campus access is currently closed to those not providing an essential function. When campus reopens, you are welcome to return and take photos.

How do students get honor cords?

Honor cords are given out only to undergraduate students who have a minimum 3.5 GPA. You will be contacted by your school’s commencement coordinator or academic advisor during the spring semester if you are eligible to receive one. They are free of charge.

Where do I pick up my honor cord?

Honor cords are provided by your individual school and will be mailed to your permanent address.


Diplomas & Program

Will my name still be in the 2020 commencement printed program?

If you have worked with Degree Progress to confirm that your requirements are complete, you will be listed in the program.

How do I get a copy of the 2020 commencement printed program?

The commencement printed program will be handed out at the rescheduled main ceremony and information booths.

How will yearbooks be issued out to purchasers?

Student Publications is making arrangements to have yearbooks mailed directly to purchasers’ home addresses. Shipment dates are pending, but looking to be around the end of the spring semester. Student Publications will be in contact directly with purchasers.


International Students

I am an international student who requires a visa to return to the United States. What are my options for returning for the rescheduled commencement?

Once the date for the postponed commencement activities has been set, international students will have three options:

  1. Students can return to the United States prior to the program end date on the Form I-20 and attend their graduation during the 60-day grace period.
  2. Students who intend to continue their studies in the United States can return with a pending change of educational level or transfer Form I-20.
  3. Students can return to the United States on another visa classification (i.e., B-2 visitor visa).

Will USC provide assistance for international students and family members who need to apply for visas to attend a rescheduled commencement?

USC will provide a letter of invitation describing the new commencement details, for the purpose of students and family members applying for B-2 visitors visas to visit the U.S. for USC commencement. The letter will be available via a link on the commencement website one week after the rescheduled date is announced.  International students who apply for B-2 visas to attend commencement should also bring a copy of their latest I-20 form to the visa interview, even if the I-20 is expired since this is evidence of previous F-1 status during enrollment at USC.

For questions about visas for international students and family members entering the U.S. for commencement, contact the Office of International Services via email at ois@usc.edu.