FAQ about Commencement 2020

Updated: May 13, 2020

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and safer-at-home orders, we have postponed all in-person 2020 commencement activities.

On May 15, 2020, we will hold a virtual conferring of degrees, and afterwards, and throughout the day, the individual academic schools will host their own virtual celebrations.  In addition, the USC website will feature videos, photos, social streams, and uploaded messages, honoring our graduates and their achievements and contributions.

Students, their families, and friends will be able to participate, virtually, in all of these joyful and celebratory activities.

Below are answers to questions we’ve received. If you have additional questions, please contact acevents@usc.edu.

Virtual Conferring of Degrees Celebration Information

What does “virtual conferring of degrees” mean?

On May 15, the president and provost will formally confer degrees upon all graduating students via a virtual celebration at 9:00 am PDT. At this time, all students will officially be granted their degrees. Join us starting at 8:45 am as we countdown to the celebration. This virtual conferring is not commencement, nor does it replace the in-person commencement for 2020 graduates.

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

No, all 2020 graduates are eligible.

Do I need to view the virtual celebration to have my degree virtually conferred?

No, but we hope you and your family are able to join in the celebration of your accomplishments. The virtual conferring will be broadcast live at 9:00 am and will replay at noon and 6:00 pm PDT.  It will be made available for on-demand viewing via YouTube.

Will my name be called/announced during the virtual conferring of degrees ceremony?

No, all 2020 graduates will be conferred as a class. Calling of names will be reserved for the in-person satellite ceremonies at a later date.

Is there a dress code for the virtual conferring?

No. Students who log in to view the virtual conferring will not be shown on the live feed.

Is there a way to participate directly in the virtual conferring celebration?

Yes, we are accepting media submissions from students, parents, family and friends. These submissions will be used as part of the day-long celebration of the Class of 2020 on an interactive media page. Please find more information here.

How do students, families, and friends watch the virtual conferring?

All students will be able to log in via Zoom to view the virtual conferring via their student Zoom accounts. Parents, families, and friends from outside the university will be able to watch simultaneously via live-stream from the USC main homepage.

Will the virtual conferring of degrees be translated to any other languages?

Yes, Mandarin and Spanish language simulcasts of the virtual conferring of degrees will be available on May 15 at 2020trojan.usc.edu. Once you enter the Zoom webinar, click the interpretation icon at the bottom center of the screen to select your preferred language. Spanish will be simulcast for the broadcasts at 9:00 am, 12 noon and 6:00 pm PDT. Mandarin will be simulcast for the broadcasts at 9:00 am and 6:00 pm PDT.

Postponed 2020 Commencement Ceremony Information

Are the May 2020 commencement activities canceled?

No. The in-person commencement ceremony and all in-person school ceremonies have been postponed to a later date. Further details will be released in the coming months.

How will I be notified about the postponed commencement activities?

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.

If am scheduled to graduate in May 2020, will my graduation date stay the same?

Yes, degrees will be virtually conferred on May 15 by the president and provost.

If I already registered for May 2020 commencement, am I automatically registered for the rescheduled ceremony?

No. Once the commencement activities have been rescheduled, all schools will send out new registration forms to confirm attendance.

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

Yes. Diplomas will be mailed to your permanent address approximately six weeks after degrees are conferred on May 15, 2020.

How do I get my diploma cover?

Diploma covers will be handed out at the rescheduled in-person school commencement ceremonies. For those students who are unable to attend the rescheduled ceremony, a process is being developed to get them their diploma cover.  We will update you 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 on next steps based on your situation, 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 once USC staff can safely return to campus. You will be notified by your school’s coordinator when the cords are ready for distribution.

For information on announcements, class rings, diploma frames and much more please the USC bookstores website: https://www.uscbookstore.com/commencement

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?

Student Publications will mail yearbooks to the home address of those who have purchased them.   Mailing dates are pending but are anticipated to be at the end of the spring semester. Student Publications will contact purchasers regarding the details.

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 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 for USC commencement. The letter will be available via a link on this 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.