Graduation Requirements

To graduate, you must satisfy the academic and research requirements imposed by your special committee, have a final transcript of your undergraduate degree on file with the Graduate School, and pay all your bursar bills.

Doctoral students must file a dissertation within seven years of first registering in the Graduate School (exceptions may be granted by the dean); and complete a total of six semesters of successful registration; two must be between the Admission to Candidacy Examination (A exam) and the Final Examination (B exam). Exceptions require permission of the Graduate School.

Master’s students must file a thesis within four years of first registration in the Graduate School (exceptions may be granted by the dean); and complete a total of two semesters of successful registration. (The M. Eng. is an exception.)

Deadlines for Completion

The dates vary slightly from year to year.  The dates can be found on the thesis pages of this website.


Commencement ceremonies take place in May and December for students who complete their degree requirements in the previous year. If you expect to complete your degree requirements in August, you may, with approval of the chair of the special committee, participate in Commencement the May before your degree is expected.

Receiving Your Diploma

Diplomas are mailed directly to your home address after degrees are awarded. Prior to your degree date, please review and update your home address in Student Essentials.

  • May diplomas are mailed in mid to late June.
  • August diplomas are mailed in mid to late September.
  • December diplomas are mailed in mid to late February.

All diplomas are sent via the United States Postal Service. They will be sent first-class for U.S. domestic addresses and airmail for international addresses.

Accepting Employment Before Earning a Degree

You must follow the Graduate School’s policy on employment to continue as a student. If you receive financial support from Cornell, you must adhere to the university’s limit on work hours. If you exceed that limit, assistantship and fellowship payments will stop and you will have to pay prorated tuition.