Graduation Process & Commencement Ceremony


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Steps to Graduation for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

  • Step 1: Apply for Graduation via Banner Self-Service. See “How to Apply” below for those instructions and information
  • Step 2: Be sure to speak with your advisor and graduation specialist to ensure that you are on track to meet your graduation requirements
  • Step 3: Participation in the Commencement Ceremony is optional. However, if you plan to attend the Ceremony, you can purchase a cap and gown through the bookstore.
  • Step 4: Register for mandatory Senior Exit Exam through the UTM testing center.
  • Step 5: Clear account of any holds including the Bursar’s Office, Library, or Financial Aid Exit Counseling. Important! Holds will prevent the mailing of your diploma.
  • Step 6: Graduation Day. Arrive at the Elam Center as early as 45 minutes prior to ceremony time.
  • Finally: Review the After Graduation section for more information.

How to Apply for Graduation

  • Students (Undergraduate and Graduate) applying for graduation must apply online through Banner Self-Service
    • Please use the Intended Date of Graduation Application link in the Student Records tab.
  • Students are eligible to participate in graduation ceremonies upon completion of ALL requirements for the degree. Students participating in the graduation ceremonies will not receive the degree until they have fulfilled all degree requirements. Students receiving degrees in the previous August may walk in December.
  • Due to Covid-19 restrictions, students at required to RSVP by October 25th at Noon for the Fall 2021 ceremony.

Walk Early

  • You may request from your college dean to walk in the commencement ceremony the semester prior to all your course work being completed, you must meet the following conditions.
    • Presentation of Documentation demonstrating inability (rather than choice) to attend the semester your course work is complete.
      • Examples of "inability" may include, but are not limited to: deployment to military duty, secured employment outside a 200-mile radius that requires you to work on Saturdays, graduate school acceptance outside a 200-mile radius that requires you to attend classes on Saturdays, etc.
    • Documentation of courses left to take after the semester you are requesting to participate in commencement.
    • Recommendation and signatures of your academic advisor indicating they have validated your documentation and agreeing that you should be allowed to participate in commencement a semester early.
    • Recommendation and signature of the department chair and dean.
  • Your request will be reviewed by the Registrar’s Office and additional communication will be sent if seating is available.
  • Due to Covid-19 restrictions, students are required to make their request by October 25th at Noon for the Fall 2021 ceremony.
  • Click Here to Access Request

Senior Exit Exam

All students are required to complete the Senior Exit Exam (s). Students will not be eligible to graduate until the exam(s) have been completed. If you are not sure if you need to take the test or have questions, please contact the department of your major.


Graduation Tickets

Due to limited seating in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center and adherence to Covid-19 restrictions, tickets are required for attendance for the Fall 2021 ceremony.


The number of tickets will be determined once the RSVPs are collected. RSVP deadline is October 25th at noon. Additional communication will be sent out the beginning of November via the student’s UTM email account.


Additional tickets availability will be determined at a later time.

Distribution of Tickets

Graduating students will receive their tickets either via pickup or at address that was provided on the RSVP form. Student will receive additional communication regarding the distribution of tickets after the RSVP deadline, October 25th at Noon via the student’s UTM email account.


Commencement Day Etiquette

  • Graduates and guests must arrive no earlier than 45 minutes prior to the ceremony start time.
  • Masks are required for graduates and guests and must be worn throughout the ceremony.
  • Graduates must enter the Elam Center through the north floor level doors on JC Henson Drive.
  • Guests must enter through the main entrance of the Elam Center on Mt. Pelia Road.
  • All guests must present their tickets upon entry.
  • Seats will be assigned for each graduate as there will be no processional or recessional.
  • Graduates will be emailed their assigned seating.
  • All graduates and guests are asked to exit the Elam Center no later than 30 minutes after the program ends.
  • Honor graduates may wear the GOLD CORD signifying University Honors; an email will be sent to those recipients
  • University Scholars may wear the Bronze Medallion
  • You may wear pre-approved stoles from university approved student organizations
  • Pre-Approved Pins may be worn. However, No decorations may be worn on the academic regalia, including on the mortarboard cap (you will be required to purchase a new cap if there is anything on the cap)
  • Shoes- the floor will be covered, please be careful if you wear high heels
  • Restroom- Only available on the concourse level (main entrance)

Arrival Time

  • Graduates and guests must arrive no earlier than 45 minutes prior to your ceremony.
  • There is no secure storage for purses, so please have pockets or use a very small cross-body bag under your robe.

Commencement Ceremony Process

Please walk up the ramp and your name will be read from the list as you cross the stage. The name that you provided on your RSVP will be the name that is read as you cross the stage. You will descend off of the stage and stop about half-way to have your picture made. Afterwards, you will return to your seat on the arena floor for the remainder of the ceremony.



We follow ADA guidelines for special seating for disabled guest and one companion; if special parking and/or seating is needed please call the Office of Disability Services at 731-881-7195.




The University has arranged for a professional photographer for the ceremonies who will photograph each graduate as he/she crosses the stage to receive congratulations from the platform guests. All orders are handled strictly between the graduate and the photographer.



Are tickets required to attend a graduation ceremony at UTM?

Due to limited seating in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center and adherence to Covid-19 restrictions, tickets are required for attendance for the Fall 2021 ceremony.


The number of tickets will be determined once the RSVPs are collected.


Additional tickets availability will be determined at a later time.

When are graduation ceremonies held?

Graduation ceremonies for Fall 2021 will be held on December 10th and 11th to allow for social distancing and adherence to Covid-19 safety guidelines.

When are degrees awarded at UTM?

Degrees are awarded at the end of the fall (December), spring (May), and summer (August) semesters.


Students must apply for Graduation to be considered a candidate for a degree. Graduation ceremonies are only held in December and May traditionally.

Can I participate in the upcoming graduation ceremony?

Students are required to RSVP by October 25th at Noon. Students are contacted via their UTM email and text messaging (if they have opted in).

Is there a rehearsal

No, due to Covid-19 safety guidelines and social distancing requirements there will not be a practice.

How long do the graduation ceremonies last?

The ceremony is projected to last about an hour and a half for Fall 2021.

Where do I get my cap and gown? What about graduation invitations?

UTM graduation candidates wear black caps and gowns


Caps and gowns can be purchased through the UTM Bookstore. The bookstore is located in the University Center. You can contact them at (731) 881-7760 with any questions.

Are masks required?

Following guidance from the University of Tennessee System, UT Martin’s main campus and five regional centers has extended the mask requirement for all indoor public spaces until our local conditions improve.

Will my name appear in the program?

Names of all May graduates will be published in the May Commencement Program and all December graduates will be published in the December Commencement Program. August graduates will appear in the December program.

When will I get my diploma?

The Registrar’s Office will send an email once the diplomas have been mailed to your mailing address on file in Banner.

If friends and family can’t make it to the Elam Center, can they watch the ceremony online?

Yes! There is the live stream link for family and friends to watch the ceremony. The link will be posted closer to the commencement date.

Will someone be there taking pictures?

A professional photographer will take your picture as your cross the stage and as you exit the platform.


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