Frequently Asked Questions

2020 Commencement FAQ


Virtual Recognition Ceremony

Yes. On Saturday, May 30, 2020 and Sunday, May 31, 2020, the University will be hosting online Virtual Recognition Ceremonies for undergraduate level students and for each individual graduate level school and college. These Virtual Recognition Ceremonies are not meant to be a substitute for the traditional in-person Commencement ceremonies.

No. For the listing of Virtual Recognition Ceremonies, please visit the Virtual Recognition Ceremony page. The University will confer degrees on all undergraduate students at one Virtual Recognition Ceremony. Graduate level students will be conferred degrees at individual school and college ceremonies.

A Virtual Recognition Ceremony allows the University to officially confer degrees upon graduates and to recognize the graduating Class of 2020 in a safe and feasible way. The Virtual Recognition Ceremonies are not meant to be a substitute for our traditional in-person commencement Ceremonies. In place of the calling of names, graduates will be able to view a GradSlideshow with personalized graduate slides.

Each graduate will have the opportunity to view a slideshow of all graduates, search for personal slides or the slides of friends, and download slides to share on social media. This is not meant to replace the calling of names, but it is an opportunity to individually recognize graduates. GradSlideshows will be created according to the individual Virtual Recognition Ceremonies.

NOTE: The names listed in the GradSlideshows are not an official listing of degree recipients. Also only those students who have completed all degree requirements by May 18, 2020, appear in the GradSlideshow.

Students (and guests) do not need to register for the Virtual Recognition Ceremonies.

Students had the opportunity to submit information (photo and/or message) to GradImages to personalize their GradSlide. The submission deadline has now passed.

The GradSlideshows will recognize and honor each individual graduate with the student’s name and degree (and a photo and quote, if submitted.) Information appearing on the individual graduate’s slide is based on how much information was provided to GradImages. GradImagescontacted all graduates directly via their St. John’s email accounts with a link to submit information. 

If graduates did not submit a photo or message, their name and degree will still be listed on a GradSlide.

While the slides are not meant to be a substitute for the calling of graduate names, they are searchable and available for download by graduates to celebrate virtually through social media. Graduates are encouraged to use the GradSlides  to celebrate virtually through social media. Be sure to use #SJUGrad20.

NOTE: The names listed in the GradSlideshows are not an official listing of degree recipients. Only those students who have completed all degree requirements by May 18, 2020, will appear in the GradSlideshow.

For Photo Guidelines, visit the GradSlides page.

*Messages and photos that are in any way considered defamatory, libelous, obscene, immoral or fraudulent to St. John’s University will be removed from the slideshow. All photo and message submissions will be reviewed for appropriateness, content and copyright will be edited or removed as deemed necessary.


Each year, the University President confers degrees at the Commencement ceremonies.  The conferral, or awarding, of degrees is when the degree is technically completed and graduation occurs.

All degrees for September 2019, January 2020, and May 2020 will be conferred during the various Virtual Recognition Ceremonies.  This includes all Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Professional Certificates, and Doctorate degrees.

We are working to create a seamless viewing experience for all viewers. Viewers will be able to watch the video directly from the individual ceremony webpages and the St. John's homepage.

Yes. Graduates will have opportunities to virtually congratulate classmates and to share personalized GradSlides, photos and posts on social media. Please visit the digital swag page. Be sure to use #SJUGrad20.

Yes. The Virtual Recognition Ceremonies will be archived and available following the broadcast for those graduates and families who are unable to watch the ceremony at the advertised time.

Not at this time. The University is exploring options to incorporate a Mass for the future in-person celebration.

Yes. Closed captioning will be available on all Virtual Recognition Ceremonies.

Graduation status can be confirmed by logging onto UIS to review transcripts for accuracy of grade changes, transfer credits, etc. Also, students can confirm there are no holds on accounts (including parking tickets and library fines). If students have questions regarding the completion of academic requirements, please contact the school or college dean's offices by visiting important contacts.

NOTE: The names listed in the GradSlideshows are not an official listing of degree recipients. Also only those students who have completed all degree requirements by May 18, 2020, appear in the GradSlideshow.

Academic Attire

The deadline to order academic attire has been extended to Monday, August 31, 2020. If students wish to order attire now, please do so by visiting Herff Jones. (Orders placed after August 31, may incur additional fees from Herff Jones.) 

Any caps and gowns already ordered will be shipped out to a home address at no additional cost by the cap and gown supplier, Herff Jones, starting Monday, April 13, 2020. If attire was ordered prior to Monday, April 13, shipping information can be provided to Herff Jones by visiting Herff Jones.

If students want a refund for caps and gowns (including tassels, stoles, hoods, etc.), here is the Herff Jones return policy:

  1. Do not open the plastic wrapper the products arrived in. Refunds will only be processed for unused products and unopen products. The student is responsible for return shipping costs. 
  2. Include the order number and reason for return in the package. 
  3. Call customer service at 1-800-837-4235 to notify the Herff Jones team the order will be returned. 
  4. Mail the unused products back to the return address on the package. The package must be returned within 10 days of receiving product. 
  5. Due to the potential high volume of return requests, please understand that refunds could be processed beyond the typical 7-10 business days after receiving product at Herff Jones.

If attire is returned, students will have another opportunity to reorder attire once details are finalized for the in-person ceremony.  

For questions or concerns about your refund, please contact our Herff Jones Representative, Brie Tutone, at 631-757-3040 or [email protected].

Yes. Students who have not ordered attire or have returned attire, will be able to purchase or repurchase attire once details are finalized for an in-person ceremony.

International stoles can be purchased through the Herff Jones academic attire ordering website until Friday, July 31, 2020.

For more information regarding honor cords and stoles and how to receive them, students should contact the honor society’s administrator or dean’s office.


Applications for diplomas has been extended through Thursday, May 21, 2020. Eligible students can order diplomas by visiting UIS. Pending graduates must submit an online diploma application in order to receive diplomas. Instructions for the Online Application for Diploma:

  1. Log onto University Information System (UIS).
  2. Click on the Student tab.
  3. Click on the Graduation tab.
  4. Click on the Application for Diploma menu.

Since the University confers degrees at various times throughout the year, students should consult with the dean's offices for dates when diplomas will be available.

Commemorative Books

Yes. Commemorative Books of graduate names will be available from the Commencement website starting Monday, June 29, 2020.

Yes. Printed Commemorative Books with graduate names will be available for students together with the diplomas in the dean’s offices after Monday, July 20, 2020. It is recommended that students consult with the dean’s office to confirm when printed Commemorative Books are available.

Yearbooks and Senior Portraits

Queens Campus Students:

Yes, students can still order yearbooks by visiting Jostens.

Parents who are interested in placing ads in the yearbook may still do so by visiting Jostens.

The deadline to order yearbooks and to submit ads is Monday, May 18, 2020.

For additional questions pertaining to the yearbook, please contact Jack Flynn at [email protected].


Staten Island Campus Students:

Yes, students can still order yearbooks by visiting Jostens.

Parents who are interested in placing ads in the yearbook may still do so by visiting Jostens.

The deadline to order yearbooks and to submit ads is Thursday, May 14, 2020.


Stay up to date by following the Yearbook Team’s instagram @stjohnssiyearbook 

Queens Campus Students:

There will be no more senior portraits taken on campus this year. However, the Vincentian Yearbook staff encourages seniors who did not have a portrait taken to submit a head shot so they can be included in the Graduation section of this year's book. Seniors can send a head shot to the Vincentian staff at [email protected]. Students should send photos from St. John's email accounts and include full name and earned degree. The deadline to submit a head shot is Monday, May 18, 2020.

For more information: 718-990-6040 ~ Office of Student Affairs


Staten Island Campus Students:

Seniors can submit a head shot here. The deadline to submit a head shot is Thursday, May 14, 2020.

For more information: 718-390-4131 ~ Office of Student Affairs

Keepsake Items

Yes, to purchase keepsake items visit the Commencement website keepsake page.


Updates will be communicated to graduates via St. John’s email accounts, personal email accounts (if updated on UIS), and the Commencement website as soon as new information is available and finalized. Please be sure to check emails and the website regularly for updated information.

Be sure to log onto UIS to update contact information including home address, e-mail address and cell number.

If you have questions regarding Commencement planning, please contact the Office of University Events via e-mail at [email protected].

If you have questions regarding academic requirements, please contact the dean’s offices.

In-Person Commencement Exercises

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis and New York State public health guidelines, the University has canceled all spring 2020 Commencement Exercises and related in-person activities.

The University is still exploring options for an in-person commencement ceremony. More information will be made available via email and on the Commencement website once details are finalized.

Once final plans have been determined, eligible students will receive registration information via student’s St. John’s University email address, student’s personal emails (if updated on UIS), and on the Commencement website

Fortunately, for most students and programs, changes to the Commencement ceremony will not affect visa status because the awarding of degrees will not be affected. For any specific questions, please contact the International Student & Scholar Services Office at [email protected].