Frequently Asked Questions

Commencement Eligibility Questions

Graduation requirements for the spring ceremony must be met by April 1, 2023. Students who become eligible after April 2, 2023, will be invited to participate in our winter 2023 ceremony in Albany.

Commencement-eligible students will receive an email invitation containing an RSVP link and additional information.

Eligibility to participate in our spring ceremony varies by program. Please visit our commencement eligibility page for help determining your eligibility.

Your graduation date is determined by the date you fulfill all your academic requirements. Please speak with your mentor or advisor for detailed information about your expected graduation date.

Undergraduate Students: If you have questions about your commencement eligibility, please visit our commencement eligibility page. If you cannot find your answer there, contact the Office of the Registrar at registrarsoffice@esc.edu.

Graduate Students: If you have questions about your commencement eligibility, please visit our commencement eligibility page. If you cannot find your answer there, please contact your faculty advisor or email grad.services@esc.edu.

Regalia Questions

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students must wear a cap and gown (regalia) to participate in commencement. Students must wear a black gown and a black mortar board with black tassel. Regalia can be purchased through Jostens.

Graduate Students

Graduate students must wear a black gown and a black mortar board with black tassel. Graduate students will also need to order an academic hood in colors that signify your academic discipline and the institution at which you earned your graduate degree.

All Students

Students are encouraged to wear attire and footwear they will be comfortable walking, sitting, and standing in during the ceremony.

If you missed the regalia order deadline and plan to participate in commencement, please contact commencement@esc.edu as soon as possible.

For our spring 2023 ceremony, regalia can be purchased through Jostens

  • For the Rochester ceremony, you must order regalia from Jostens by April 4, 2023.
  • For the Mahattan and Albany ceremonies, you must order regalia from Jostens by April 20, 2023.

If you miss the above order deadlines, you can purchase the requisite cap and gown (black gown, black mortarboard cap, black tassel) through another online vendor.

Regalia consists of a mortarboard cap, gown, and tassel. Graduate and doctoral students will also receive a hood for their degree.

You can view this instructional video from Jostens to learn how your cap and gown should fit and be worn. We'll also have volunteers in the student robing room prior to commencement to assist you.

If you are earning a master’s or doctoral degree, you will also have a hood. You will carry this hood on stage with you, where a member of college leadership will place your hood on you. When you arrive in student robing, we will instruct you how to properly carry your hood on stage.

Absolutely! We encourage you to customize your mortarboard. We only ask that you remember that commencement is a family event and that customization should be respectful of all people. Please also be sure that your decorations will not block the view of the person sitting behind you and will not impair your vision while walking.

Regalia is required at commencement. We strongly encourage you to order your regalia well in advance of your commencement date. If you arrive without regalia, we cannot guarantee you will be provided a proper cap and gown. A limited supply may be available on the day of the ceremony.

Latin honors designations are recognized for bachelor's degrees only and are calculated based on a student's cumulative grade point average.

Students whose degrees were awarded by the eligibility deadline, and who earned Latin honors will be listed with honors in the commencement program. Latin honors will show on the diplomas and transcripts of all eligible graduates when the degree is awarded. For more information about Latin honors at SUNY Empire, review our Latin honors policy.

Gold honors cords will be provided for eligible students to wear during the ceremony and can be picked up at student check-in. Please direct all Latin honors eligibility questions to registrarsoffice@esc.edu.

Red, white, and blue cords will be provided for any active duty, current guard, reservist, and veteran regardless of discharge status. You will pick up your cord at student check-in.

Ceremony Questions

SUNY Empire's will host three commencement ceremonies.

Please be aware, the venues do not allow guests to bring in balloons.

Students must arrive 1.5 - 2 hours before the beginning of their ceremony. This will give you time to check in, have your photo taken by our photographer, and line up for the processional. Guests will be seated one hour before the ceremony begins.

Arrival Times:

  • Rochester - 4:30 p.m.
  • New York City - 4:30 p.m.
  • Albany - 10:30 a.m.

All SUNY Empire in-person commencement ceremonies are livestreamed. The livestream feed will be available approximately five minutes prior to the start of the ceremony and will end when the ceremony has concluded. The livestream feed can be found at www.esc.edu/commencement. A video recording of the ceremony will also be posted to the commencement webpage the week following the ceremony date.

There is no rehearsal prior to commencement. You will receive instructions from SUNY Empire staff when you arrive at the commencement venue.

Guest ticket allotments vary from year to year based on venue size and number of commencement-eligible students. The number of guests allowed for each ceremony will be communicated via email to all commencement-eligible students, along with a link to RSVP for yourself and your guests.

Children 2 years old or younger who will sit on an adult's lap for the duration of the ceremony do not need a ticket. Children older than 2 years must have a ticket. Please note that strollers cannot block seats or aisles.

We recommend reaching out to the local U.S. consulate within the country that your family members are in to apply for a visitor visa. Click here to view visa appointment wait times.

SUNY Empire does not provide letters to graduates as a means for their guests to apply for a visa from their country to attend a graduation ceremony. We recommend using copies of the following documents instead:

SUNY Empire offers all commencement-eligible students a complimentary photograph through On the Spot Photos. This photograph will be taken prior to the ceremony. You'll receive information at student check-in.

Additionally, when you attend a SUNY Empire commencement ceremony, you and your guests will enter an area where photography, audio, and video recording will occur. By entering the event premises, you consent to such photography, audio, and video recording and its release, publication, exhibition, or reproduction to be used for SUNY Empire’s promotional and marketing purposes now and in the future.

Photos taken the day of commencement will be uploaded to a public SUNY Empire Flickr album in the weeks following the ceremony.

Although diplomas are not handed out at the commencement ceremony, each commencement-eligible student who crosses the stage will receive a diploma cover.

Students who have satisfied all academic and financial requirements to earn their degree can expect to receive their diploma by mail approximately three weeks from the day SUNY Empire awarded the degree. Please note that participation in commencement does not necessarily indicate degree completion. Learn more about the graduation process.

Our ceremonies last approximately 1.5 - 2 hours.

No. There is no secure place to store valuables, such as bags and purses, at the commencement venues. Please leave all valuables with your guests or place them in something small enough to fit under your regalia. SUNY Empire is not responsible for theft or loss of personal property.

If you are unable to attend one of the spring ceremonies and would like to attend our winter ceremony instead, please reach out to commencement@esc.edu. In case of inclement weather, updates will be posted to the commencement webpage. Weather conditions may vary across state regions. SUNY Empire is committed to everyone’s safety and wellbeing.

Commencement Location Questions

Driving directions, public transportation routes, accessibility information, and parking information can be found on the venue websites.

Empire State Plaza Convention Center

Kodak Center

New York City Center

Rochester

Kodak Center Directions and Parking

New York City

New York City Center Parking

Albany

We encourage students and guests to park in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center Visitor's Lot (V-Lot), located beneath the Empire State Plaza and accessed via the I-787 Empire State Plaza exit. This lot has designated accessible parking spaces. SUNY Empire has reserved the V-Lot for our commencement attendees, and the spots are available on a first-come-first served basis.

Additional parking information can be found on the venue website.

Empire State Plaza Convention Center Parking

Yes. All our commencement venues are accessible to people with disabilities. For more information, please visit the venue’s accessibility page.

Empire State Plaza Convention Center Accessibility

Kodak Center

New York City Center

Animals/pets are not allowed at our commencement venues, except for ADA-defined service animals.

Health and Safety Questions

Unless the commencement venue requires COVID-19 safety measures, such as vaccination, testing, or masking, there are no current COVID-19 protocols in place for the winter 2022 commencement ceremony. This is subject to change at any time.

At this time, face masks are encouraged, but not required. COVID guidelines are subject to change at any time.

If you have questions not answered on this page, please email commencement@esc.edu and we will be happy to assist.