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5/20/2020 - Degree Conferral Dates

To: Class of 2020 Graduate Students
From: Douglas Rees, Dean of Graduate Studies

It was recently brought to my attention that there may be some confusion regarding the Institute's plans for the 2020 commencement and the degree conferral process. In an effort to help clear up this confusion, I am sharing the following information.

As you know, as part of the Institute's response to the coronavirus pandemic, the decision was made to celebrate graduates in two separate stages: a virtual commencement ceremony on Friday, June 12, and then, at a later time, an in-person celebration on campus. While the Institute is committed to holding an in-person celebration for our graduates when it is safe to do so, no date has been set for that event at this time.

Please know that participating in the June event will not preclude you from participating in the in-person event.

The confusion mentioned above seems to be around the degree conferral process. Your degree conferral occurs on the date on which your diploma is awarded to you by Caltech's Board of Trustees. Typically, Caltech offers one opportunity per year for undergraduate and graduate candidates to have their degrees officially approved. This is through an early morning vote by the Board of Trustees on the morning of the commencement exercises. In a typical year, students who are unable to meet the spring deadline for completion of degree requirements will not have their names put forth to the Board for approval and must wait until the following June to have their degrees conferred.

This year, in recognition of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on graduate students' ability to complete their degree requirements by the June 8, 2020 deadline, the Institute has agreed to offer a second opportunity for graduate degree approval by the Board of Trustees. Those graduate students who will not be able to have their degrees awarded in June, but who complete their degree requirements by September 30, 2020, will have the opportunity to have their degree officially approved through a vote by the Board of Trustees at their annual October meeting. This will be a meeting for the Board of Trustees only and is not an in-person celebration event for graduating students. Diplomas will be mailed to all graduate students whose degrees have been approved at the October Board of Trustees meeting.

As mentioned previously, Caltech is planning to hold an in-person celebration event for both undergraduate and graduate students whose degrees are awarded at the June 2020 virtual commencement event, as well as for graduate students whose degrees are approved at the October 2020 Board of Trustees meeting. As of now, the date of that in-person celebration has not yet been determined due to the ever-changing situation surrounding COVID-19. As soon as we have a date for that in-person celebration, we will notify you of our plans and process for participating.

We apologize for any questions or concerns that may have arisen as a result of earlier communications on our plans and process for this year. We welcome your inquiries. Below you will find contact information for the various offices supporting the June 2020 virtual commencement event as well as for the Registrar's Office and the undergraduate and graduate deans' offices. This information is also available on the Commencement website in the form of an FAQ.

General Commencement Inquiries:

Registrar's Office:

Dean of Undergraduate Students Office:
Beth Larranaga
(626) 395-6352

Dean of Graduate Studies Office:
Natalie Gilmore
(626) 395-3812