Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the difference between graduation and Commencement?

Graduation is the completion of all degree requirements. A graduation application must be submitted for a given term during the academic year to notify the University that you are ready to complete your bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program. All degree program coursework must be completed before the award date (end of the graduation term you applied for). Email with any questions about graduation.

Commencement is the ceremony that celebrates the completion of a degree with the ceremonial conferral of degrees. Participating in Commencement does not automatically mean that the student has graduated. Commencement is a separate process from graduating.

What is the difference between Commencement and the Cultural Graduate Celebrations?

Commencement is the University ceremony that celebrates the completion of a degree with the ceremonial conferral of degrees. In addition, diploma covers are distributed during Commencement.

Cultural Graduate Celebrations are celebratory events that acknowledge the cultural influences and traditions that have contributed to the student’s academic success. Learn more on the Cultural Graduate Celebrations webpage.

You must sign up for Commencement and Cultural Graduate Celebrations separately. 

Can I participate in both Commencement and the Cultural Graduate Celebrations?

Yes. Commencement and the Cultural Graduate Celebrations are separate and you are welcome to sign up to participate in both.

How do I know which Commencement ceremony to attend?

All eligible graduating students will be automatically assigned to their respective ceremony based on their college, department, and degree. Please visit the Commencement Schedule webpage and scroll down to the Detailed Schedule section. Each date lists the college ceremony with the departments and majors.

How long is the Commencement ceremony?

Each ceremony will be between 1 hour and 30 minutes and 2 hours and 15 minutes, depending on the college ceremony. Out of respect for all our graduates and their family and friends, all attendees must stay for the entire duration of the event to not disrupt the ceremony. Please plan accordingly.


Who can participate in the 2023 Commencement ceremonies?

Students who graduated in fall 2022 and winter 2023, and projected graduates for spring 2023 and summer 2023.

How do I participate in Commencement?

All graduates planning to participate in the in-person ceremonies must register in advance to attend using the MarchingOrder registration and ticketing site for Cal State LA. You will receive an email on April 10 from MarchingOrder with instructions. Registration will be available from April 10, at 9 a.m. PT until April 28, at 5 p.m. PT.

If I am an international student, how do I invite family to visit the United States?

Per the Office of International Programs and Global Engagement website, Cal State LA no longer produces letters of invitation to invite students and their family members to visit the United States or attend the student Commencement ceremony. The United States Consular Offices do not require these letters for the student and their families to obtain visitor visas.

The Office of International Programs and Global Engagement is providing an invitation letter sample for students who wish to write their own letter to invite family members to the United States. Please note that this letter is not required to obtain a visitor visa.


How many guest tickets will I receive?

Graduates participating in the in-person Commencement ceremonies can reserve up to four guest tickets during the registration period in April 2023.

After the registration period, all unclaimed tickets per ceremony will be pooled and available to be reserved on a specific date in May on a first-come, first-served basis until all tickets are claimed. Graduates who registered to participate in Commencement will be eligible to reserve up to two additional guest tickets. Please note that each ceremony will only have a certain number of additional tickets available, and not all graduates will be able to get additional tickets.

Can I buy extra tickets?

Commencement guest tickets are free and cannot be bought or sold. Under no circumstance should an exchange of money occur for tickets. Tickets that are bought or sold will be invalidated by the University.

Who needs a guest ticket?

All guests 2 years of age and older must have a ticket to enter the venue. This includes caregivers. Infants (under 2 years old) will not be required to have a ticket if seated on a parent or guardian’s lap. Each guest ticket has a unique bar code. Once scanned, copies of the same ticket will not be valid.

Will there be an alternate viewing location on campus for guests who do not have tickets?

Yes. Cal State LA is providing an alternate on-campus viewing location where guests can watch the livestream of each ceremony during Commencement. The alternate viewing location is in the Golden Eagle Ballrooms. The Golden Eagle Ballrooms are located on the third floor of the Golden Eagle building across from the University Bookstore. This location will not require tickets, and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Regalia (Cap and Gown) and Other Attire

What do I need to participate?

Outside of registration, the appropriate academic attire for each degree must be worn.

  • For bachelor’s degree graduates: black bachelor’s gown, black mortarboard (cap) with black tassel (commemorative black and gold tassel from the University Bookstore OR black tassel with a seal from Grad Pack can be worn).
  • For master’s degree graduates: black master’s gown, black mortarboard (cap) with black tassel (commemorative black and gold tassel from the University Bookstore OR black tassel with a seal from Grad Pack can be worn), and master’s hood associated with academic discipline.
  • For doctoral degrees: black tam with gold tassel, black doctoral degree robe, and doctoral hood associated with academic discipline.

Regalia (cap and gown) can be purchased in person only at the University Bookstore during Grad Fair on April 4, 2023, until Commencement week. Please visit the regalia webpage for more information.

Who gets an honor cord?

Graduates obtaining a bachelor’s degree, who maintain an outstanding academic record while earning their degree, are accorded special recognition upon graduation and are given golden yellow double honor cords to wear during Commencement.

To be eligible for honors, the graduating candidate must have completed a minimum of 45 units in residence at Cal State LA and have attained the appropriate standing (in terms of cumulative grade point average earned at Cal State LA) as described below:

  • Summa Cum Laude: GPA equal to or greater than 3.9
  • Magna Cum Laude: GPA equal to or greater than 3.75 but less than 3.9
  • Cum Laude: GPA equal to or greater than 3.5 but less than 3.75

These honors are designated on the diploma and permanent academic record. Bachelor’s degree students who are projected to graduate in spring 2023 or summer 2023 and have attained the status of graduating with honors based on the criteria listed above from completed courses as of winter 2023 will be eligible to wear an honor cord. In early April 2023, students graduating with honors will receive information about the distribution of honor cords.

Are sashes and stoles regalia? Am I allowed to wear them?

Sashes and stoles are not part of the academic regalia. However, they can be worn during Commencement. These items can be purchased at the University Bookstore. If ordering a custom sash or stole, please make sure that the official name or approved nicknames are used for the University:

California State University, Los Angeles
Cal State LA (no periods in the abbreviation for LA)
Cal State Los Angeles

Commencement Pavilion

What are the accessibility accommodations for guests?

The first row of all bleachers, and aisle seats at the floor level, will be marked as priority seating for guests with accessible seating needs. All seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

If guests require a wheelchair, please make arrangements on your own according to specific needs. Wheelchairs are not available on campus.

Can guests bring in strollers?

Strollers will not be allowed inside the venue. There are no designated check-in locations for strollers, so please leave them in your car.

All information, including dates and activities, are subject to change. We continue to update the Commencement website with 2023 Commencement details, so please check back regularly to stay updated. Please review all the sections, as they contain valuable information for graduates and guests.

The health and safety of the Cal State LA community is our top priority as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. For the latest information about campus COVID-19 protocols, university messages, frequently asked questions, and more, please visit the Health Watch webpage. The information on this website is current and will continue to be updated based on the latest public health protocols.

This site is maintained by University Events and Protocol.
Updated: March 20, 2023