All degrees are conferred by the VCU Board of Visitors upon recommendation of the graduate faculty.

Candidates for degrees are eligible for graduation upon completion of all academic requirements in effect at the time of official matriculation into the program, provided the students are continuously enrolled and provided the requirements are met within the time limit specified by the school or program and the University Graduate Council. Students failing to satisfy the time requirement and who are readmitted to their programs shall satisfy requirements in effect at the time of readmission.

Degrees are granted at the close of the semester or summer session in which students complete their work. Degrees will not be granted unless all financial obligations have been resolved with VCU’s Student Accounting Department. Students must be enrolled at the time of application (i.e., the semester in which students graduate).

No degrees will be conferred unless students make formal application to graduate.

Degrees will be awarded and diplomas issued in a current semester only. Students who do not submit/complete their applications to graduate in the semester in which they actually complete their programs will be awarded their degrees in the semester in which they apply to graduate. In such cases, a text notation will be added to the transcript to indicate the date that course work for the degree was completed. Program directors and academic school deans must submit a special action request to the Graduate School to this effect that also includes a request for a waiver of the requirement that the students must be enrolled at the time of application/reapplication. A request for a waiver of the enrollment requirement must document that the student has completed all degree requirements and is not using any university resources (i.e., libraries, computer labs, faculty advising, etc.)

Graduation applications must be submitted by students to their advisers or deans no later than the dates indicated in the university’s academic calendars on the Web. Students should schedule conferences with their advisers well ahead of the deadline and should note that the application requires the approval of the adviser, the department chair or the school director of graduate studies, and the school dean. Credit is applicable toward only one degree unless students are admitted to a course of study that allows a defined number of shared courses. Graduate credit hours earned toward a VCU graduate certificate may be applied one time to degree requirements for master’s or Ph.D. programs. Graduate credit hours earned toward a VCU graduate certificate may be applied toward only one certificate. The determination of the acceptability of specific courses to be used for both the certificate and the graduate degree will be the responsibility of that master’s or Ph.D. program or school.

Revised 1/24/2017, 5/11/2010
University Graduate Council

Graduation checklist

The total number of semester credits required for graduation depends upon the degree program. Specific information may be found under degree program descriptions. In addition to the specific requirements listed by the department, the following graduation checklist for graduate students, advisers and program directors summarizes all general requirements for graduation as determined by the University Graduate Council.

  • All provisional or probationary conditions of admission have been met
  • Candidates enrolled at time of application/reapplication to graduate (i.e., semester in which candidates plan to graduate)
  • Overall graduate GPA is greater than or equal to 3.0
  • Graduate GPA based on all graduate course work attempted after acceptance into program
  • For repeated courses, both original grade and repeat grades included in calculation of graduate GPA
  • No courses receiving grades less than C presented to fulfill degree requirements (Individual programs reserve the right to establish more stringent requirements regarding acceptance of C grades.)

  • No course work approved for transfer below grade of B; no course work approved for transfer included in calculation of GPA
  • Graduate course work only (500 level or higher) may be applied to a graduate degree, with at least one-half of required course work designated exclusively for graduate students (600 or higher)
  • All Incompletes (I) converted to letter grade by last day of class of semester in which candidate plans to graduate
  • All grades of Continued (CO), Progress (PR) and No Grade (NG) converted to letter grades by last day of class of semester in which candidate plans to graduate
  • All course work taken within prescribed time limits (master’s, six years; Ph.D., eight years, with any extensions approved by Graduate School)
  • All requirements for theses/dissertations must be completed by the deadline published in the academic calendar of the semester in which the candidate plans to graduate, including:
    • Final defense of thesis/dissertation
    • ETD approval form with all approval signatures, including the graduate dean’s and, if applicable, documentation of IRB or IACUC approval number
    • Submission of the ETD to the VCU Scholar’s Compass according to instructions in the VCU Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Manual (Candidate should confirm with adviser/program director all internal schedules for submission of copy, defense and approval.)
    • Survey of Earned Doctorates (All doctoral students must complete the SED. In order to complete the survey, go to: Refer to the Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Manual for further information.)
    • Publication with ProQuest (All doctoral dissertations must be published with ProQuest. Dissertations are submitted directly by the student through the UMI/ProQuest’s ETD Administrator site for VCU. Submitting to ProQuest does not satisfy the university’s requirement of submission. You must submit to the VCU Scholar’s Compass separately in order to fulfill this requirement for graduation.)
  • Students must settle all financial obligations with VCU’s Student Accounting Department.

Revised 5/11/2010; 5/10/2011
University Graduate Council

Application to graduate

At the beginning of each semester, all matriculated graduate students will receive an email reminder from the Office of Records and Registration/Graduation Office to initiate the application-to-graduate process for the current semester. The email notification will be sent to the official VCU student email address and will include submission deadlines and guidelines. (All graduate students in the School of Medicine are asked to complete a preliminary review before initiating the graduation process and are referred to the School of Medicine guidelines or to their advisers/graduate program directors regarding application-to-graduate procedures.) Students planning to graduate in the current semester should proceed as follows:

  • Complete the apply to graduate procedure on eServices. The VCU application to graduate will be provided during this process.
  • Complete the VCU application to graduate according to the instructions provided. A separate application to graduate is required for each program from which the student intends to graduate. 

Graduate students, program directors and academic school deans/designees are required to conduct a final review of all academic histories as part of the application-to-graduate check-out process as articulated in this Bulletin and on the Graduate School website. A student’s signature on the application to graduate is acknowledgement that the student has reviewed the academic history and that it is correct. Final approval signatures by graduate program directors and academic school deans/designees on the final application to graduate confirm that the student’s academic history is complete, correct and final and that no future requests for changes to the academic history will be considered once the student has been approved to graduate. 

Revised 5/11/2010, 5/10/2016
University Graduate Council

Reapplying for graduation

Candidates who do not graduate at the end of the semester for which they have applied must reregister and reapply. Students must be enrolled at the time of application/reapplication (i.e., the semester in which the student graduates).


Graduate students are encouraged to visit the Graduate School website for information about university Graduate School events and activities for May and December commencement ceremonies. Students also are encouraged to visit the VCU Commencement website.

Time limit for completion of requirements and eligibility of courses

The time limit for a graduate degree will not extend beyond a period of six years for graduate certificates and master’s degrees and eight years for doctoral degrees.

Course work completed before matriculation and applied toward the degree, including course work at VCU and that transferred from other institutions, will be evaluated by the program/department to determine whether it can be used to fulfill degree requirements. For course work that was taken more than eight years prior to the completion of the VCU degree, the graduate program director and school dean/designee will evaluate the course work for acceptability and report those courses deemed acceptable to the dean of the Graduate School. (See policy on Exceptions.)

Revised 5/11/2010; 5/10/2011
University Graduate Council