For the first time in many years, Utah State University students earning graduate degrees will have their graduation ceremonies along with undergraduates, which organizers say will give bachelor’s degree recipients a glimpse into what could lie ahead for them.
For the past 10 years or more, USU’s graduation was divided into three main parts: the main commencement ceremony, individual college convocations and the graduate hooding ceremony. Master’s and doctoral candidates typically only attended the hooding ceremony.
This year, there will be no one single hooding ceremony. Instead, the hooding will take place within each college at their respective convocation ceremonies, along with bachelor’s degree recipients.
The only exception is the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, which decided to hold separate graduate and undergraduate ceremonies within their college due to large numbers, said Joan Rudd, an admissions officer in the School of Graduate Studies.
On May 2, master’s and doctorate candidates are invited to join the undergraduates in the traditional procession across campus from the Quad to the Spectrum for the main university commencement ceremony.
Individual college ceremonies will take place either the same day after the larger commencement, or on May 3. Graduating students are announced one by one as they walk across the stage, while at the main commencement ceremony they are recognized in masses as the university president asks the students from each college to stand up.
In previous years, graduate degree candidates had their own procession from the Goerge Nelson Field House to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for the hooding ceremony. Very few, if any, attended the larger commencement ceremony with undergraduates.
In a hooding ceremony, doctorate and master’s degree candidates carry a sash-like, cape-like hood during the procession, then when their names are read at the ceremony, the hoods are draped around their necks.
“It’s just part of the ceremony associated with a graduate degree,” said Vice Provost of Graduate Studies Richard Inouye. “It’s recognizing that additional effort and time and expense and learning that’s associated with a graduate degree.”
This change in commencement schedule, originally announced in October, comes as the former Office of Research and Graduate Studies separates into the Office of Research and the School of Graduate Studies.
Inouye said this reorganization is one possible factor in the president’s office deciding to do away with separate undergraduate and graduate ceremonies.
He also believes it is beneficial for all students within each college to graduate together.
“It adds some meaning, I think, to the undergraduate part of the commencement, to see the graduate commencement there,” Inouye said. “Within each college, that’s where these graduate students have been spending their time, working with the faculty in that college.”
Rudd added that it’s more convenient for students now that finals go from Thursday, April 25 through Wednesday, May 1, instead of the previous norm of Monday-Friday.
Rudd previously played a big part in organizing the graduate convocation and hooding ceremony. Now, she said, it’s a lot less stressful since every college is incorporating their graduate students into their ceremonies.
Inouye and Rudd said they haven’t seen or heard any complaints about this change.
“This is a very exciting time for this students,” Rudd said, “and I think no matter how it’s held they’ll be really excited and glad to be graduating.”