What is the difference between graduation and commencement?

Graduation and commencement definitions
What is... Definition
Graduation Graduation is when a student is awarded a certificate or degree once they have satisfied all certificate or degree requirements as verified by the Student Records & Graduation Office. After the verification process, the certificate or diploma is printed, mailed and posted to the student’s PCC record. The mailing and posting process for certificates and diplomas usually takes 6 to 8 weeks after term grades are recorded.
Commencement Commencement is a ceremony that allows students, family and friends to celebrate in the student’s academic accomplishments. Participation in the ceremony does not mean the student has graduated and students do not receive their certificates or diplomas at the ceremony.

Steps to Graduation

Students at Portland Community College are automatically awarded degrees and certificates upon completion of requirements for the student's recorded program of study. Opting out of an institutional award requires emailing the Student Records and Graduation Office. Multiple credentials may be automatically awarded within a student's program of study.

1) Declare your program of study
  • To declare a new program of study, click Update your degree and major in the Term-to-Term Checklist on the MyPCC Home tab. Call the Registration Helpline at 971-722-8888 (option 2) if you are unable to use the online form or want to add additional degree/majors or certificates.
2) Complete requirements as published in the academic catalog you are following
  • If your GRAD Plan does not reflect the academic catalog requirements (see below) you are following, please contact Student Records at 971-722-7100.
  • If you are completing alternate requirements, please work with your Faculty Department Chair to submit a Course Substitution Form (view a sample substitution form; actual forms available from your Department or Faculty Department Chair).
  • If you have attended a previous college or university, transfer credits to PCC.
  • If you are not registered for this academic term, but you believe this transferred coursework will complete your degree or certificate, please submit an Application for Graduation, so we can evaluate your records for graduation.
3) Degree evaluation
  • During your final quarter of your program of study, the Student Records office will review your academic history to confirm all requirements will be met for your degree or certificate. You will receive an email via MyPCC confirming your final courses are in progress. This email will include information about submitting your diploma name and diploma address. If you are in your final term and do not receive an email by Week 9, contact your department or Student Records.
  • If you would like additional degrees or certificates, outside of your declared program of study, you should submit the Application for Graduation before the term you will complete those requirements.
  • Students completing their final requirements in Summer term, and who wish to participate in the Commencement Ceremony, should submit the Application for Graduation by the published deadline.
4) Degree awarded
  • When all requirements have been met, your degree or certificate will be automatically awarded. Awarding takes place in the weeks following the term's end and, once posted, transcripts reflecting the award date may be ordered via MyPCC. Your diploma or certificate will be mailed to your address of record at PCC 6 to 8 weeks after the term has ended.

Academic Catalog Requirements

You may meet the requirements in the PCC Catalog that was current when you earned your first credit(s) at PCC, or you may choose to meet the requirements of a later catalog, as long as one or more credits is earned each academic year since that catalog was published. If GRAD Plan does not reflect the academic catalog requirements you are following, please contact Student Records.

An edition of the catalog is valid for six academic years. For example, a catalog that takes effect fall term 2010 is valid through summer term 2016. However, some programs may impose shorter time limits on accepting credits for degree or certificate requirements. All degrees require basic competencies of math and English.