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Graduation and Commencement

happy student at graduation

All You Need to Know About Graduating from HCC

Howard Community College is committed to helping you reach your goal. If you’re enrolled in a degree or certificate program, keep the following information on hand.

The deadlines to apply to graduate are March 15 for spring, June 15 for summer, and October 15 for fall. If you’re going to take no more than two courses during the summer and wish to participate in Commencement, apply for summer graduation by April 15.

Howard Community College's 46th Commencement will be held on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 2:00 p.m at the UMBC Retriever Activity Center. Graduate line-up is at 1:15 p.m. Cap and gown orders are past due; place your order at the bookstore today (RCF 113; 443-518-1400).  All students participating in Commencement must wear the provided cap, gown, and hood. Watch Commencement live at!

  • Apply to Graduate
    1. Meet with an advisor to determine if you are eligible to graduate. The deadlines to apply to graduate are March 15 for spring, June 15 for summer, and October 15 for fall. If you’re going to take no more than two courses during the summer and wish to participate in Commencement, apply for summer graduation by April 15.
    2. While there, complete an Application to Graduate (it's free!).
    3. Make sure you fill out a separate application for each degree and/or certificate that you plan to receive.
    4. If you're planning to move before or after graduation, make sure you submit a Change of Information form to the Office of Records, Registration, and Veterans' Affairs.
  • Graduation FAQ

    Don’t I just graduate automatically when I have finished my requirements?
    No. To graduate from Howard Community College, you need to complete the Application to Graduate with your academic advisor. If you completed the requirements for more than one program (degree or certificate), fill out an Application to Graduate for each program.

    When should I apply to graduate?
    The best time to apply to graduate is when you’ve completed 75% of your program requirements and will finish up next term.

    Do I have to pay to apply to graduate?
    There is no fee to apply to graduate, attend commencement, or order a cap, gown and hood.

    How do I know if I am close to completing my requirements?
    Meet with your advisor and ask. Your advisor will review your record with you and help you decide if you are ready to apply. Your advisor can also help you update your area of study or transfer in coursework completed at another college or university may accelerate your graduation.

    Who is my advisor?
    The Office of Admissions & Advising operates on a walk-in basis; you may see any advisor who is available when you visit.

    Commencement takes place in May, but I won't complete my requirements until the end of summer. May I still attend the ceremony?
    Yes, if you are taking up to two courses in summer. If you are taking three or more summer courses, you may participate in the Commencement the following spring.

    Do I have to take all my credits at HCC?
    You must take at least a minimum of 25% of your program at HCC to be eligible to graduate from HCC.

    What requirements do I need to graduate with honors?
    You must have an overall GPA of 3.5 to graduate with honors.

    What happens if I do not successfully complete all the credits I need for my degree after I apply to graduate?
    You will be notified that you did not satisfy the requirements, and you may apply again as soon as you register for your remaining classes.

    Do I have to attend the ceremony in order to receive my diploma?
    No. While we encourage you to attend this momentous event, you do not have to attend in order to receive your diploma.

    What should I do to be sure my diploma information is correct?
    Carefully and legibly print your name exactly as you want it to appear on the diploma when you fill out the Application to Graduate.

    If I have applied to graduate and my degree is not yet posted, what can I use to verify my anticipated graduation?
    Sometimes an employer or school will request proof of your graduation before your degree/certificate is posted or before you have received your diploma/certificate. Submit a verification of enrollment form to RRVA and select "pending graduation" from the options on the form.

  • Commencement Instructions
    Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.

    Commencement will be held at the UMBC Retriever Activity Center (RAC) on Thursday, May 25 at 2:00 p.m. Please be aware: tickets are required for guests to attend this event; graduating students do not need a ticket.


    Please see your academic advisor if you have not yet applied to graduate.


    Commencement is a ticketed event; students will be allotted 4 tickets each. All guests of graduating students must have a ticket to enter the RAC; this includes all children over the age of 1. There are no extra tickets available for this event; there is an overflow viewing room available (Sherman Hall 003)  for anyone without a ticket. Watch Commencement live at!

    Tickets may be picked up at the Graduate Get Together on Thursday, May 4 from 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. in RCF 400. After May 4, tickets will be available for pick up in the Office of Records, Registration, and Veterans' Affairs (RCF 233) during regular business hours.


    Cap and gown orders are past due; place your cap and gown order at HCC's bookstore immediately (RCF 113; 443-518-1400).  All students participating in Commencement must wear the cap, gown, and hood provided. Caps are worn with the front point in the center of the forehead. The top of the cap is parallel to the floor, and the tassels are worn on the right until the awards are conferred during the ceremony.

    Your cap and gown may be picked up at the Graduate Get Together on Thursday, May 4 from 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. in RCF 400. After May 4, caps and gowns may be picked up in HCC’s bookstore during regular business hours.


    Arrive between 12:15 and 1:15 p.m. for line-up.

    You will receive an index card at check in. Hold on to this index card! You are required to bring the index card to the stage and present it to the announcer; you will not be able to interact with the announcer, so please ensure that all information is correct on the card at the check-in table.

    Have a name that is often mispronounced? Call 443-518-3800 and state your name 3 times slowly. We use this to practice!

    You will be handed a white tube containing a congratulatory letter as you cross the stage. Your diploma will be issued after the final evaluation of your academic record; expect to receive your  diploma 6-8 weeks following the ceremony. Check Self-Service: Student Planning to ensure your unofficial transcript has your degree/certificate posted before ordering official transcripts.


    Honor cords and tassels will be provided for honor students at the designated honors table at the graduate check-in at Commencement. In order to qualify for honors, a student must have a 3.5 or higher GPA during their entire time at HCC. Students will be notified through email of their honor status.

    Students who served in the U.S. Armed Forces are provided a cord of red, white, and blue to wear at Commencement. Qualified students will be notified through email and phone of this special regalia and can pick up their military cords at the Graduate Get Together on May 4.

    Stoles for other honors programs and learning communities are provided by the directors of these programs; please direct questions to the appropriate program.


    Classic Photography is the official Commencement photographer. Your photos will be available to view and order by visiting their website at, then clicking "Order My Graduation Photos." Photos will be posted within 72 hours of Commencement. If you need additional help locating your photos, call Classic Photography at 800-869-9515.


    Dress according to the weather forecast - this time of year is tricky! While Commencement will take place indoors, graduate check-in is outside. You may need to walk a short distance and be prepared to stand in line for some time. Keep high heels under 3 inches for optimal safety.

    Leave your personal belongings at home or lock them in your car. You cannot carry a purse, phone, or keys. Your hands need to remain free for handshakes and receipt of the white tube on stage. Selfie sticks are not permitted.

    Concessions will be available for guests at the RAC.


    Parking meters will be enforced, but parking on surface lots is available and free. If you choose to park in a parking garage or metered space, be prepared to pay and make sure you put enough time on the meter. Drivers will be held responsible by UMBC for any parking fines.

    Parking is available in any open lot; we recommend parking in any area designated "A."

    Parking map


    Designated accessible parking is not in immediate proximity to the facility; please ensure your guests are informed. When parking in an accessible space, the vehicle must display official tags or placard. Drivers will be held responsible by UMBC for any parking fines. (Parking map)

    Guests needing accessible seating will have designated seating available with a special ticket. If you have a guest who uses a wheelchair, please notify us at right away; requests will be honored in the order they are received until this seating fills. Note: Your entire guest party may not be able to sit together. 

    Have questions? Email us at!
  • Diplomas and Transcripts

    Your diploma or certificate will be mailed to the address listed on your graduation application. Diplomas will be mailed July 15 for spring graduates, September 15 for summer graduates, and February 15 for fall graduates. Do you need a copy of your diploma? Find out how to request one here.

    Your degree will be posted to your transcript after final grades are issued and clearance procedures have been completed. You will receive an email when your credential is posted to your record. Place a transcript request once you receive this email.

    Diplomas and certificates are mailed after the final evaluation of academic records. This process usually takes four to six weeks following the graduation date.

    For more information, contact


  • Graduation and Commencement Dates and Deadlines
    • April 15 - Deadline to apply to graduate for summer 2017 graduates with two or less courses to go.
    • May 4 - Pick up your cap and gown, socialize with your fellow graduates, and get your photo taken at the Graduate Get Together! (10:30am - 2:30pm in RCF 400)
    • May 25 - Commencement at 2 p.m. at UMBC's Retriever Activity Center! Time to celebrate!
    • July 15 - Your diploma is mailed! 
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