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Graduation and Commencement

The information on this web page contains all of the detailed information you will need as you prepare to complete a degree or certificate at NMC.

Graduation and Commencement – there is a difference. Graduation is the completion of all requirements for your degree or certificate. The degree or certificate is notated on your official academic transcript, and a diploma or certificate issued. Commencement is the ceremony recognizing your hard work and accomplishments. It is an opportunity for you, your family, friends, and the campus community to celebrate all that you have done.

It should be noted that diplomas and certificates are issued once all financial obligations to NMC are met.


Applying for a Degree or Certificate

All students are required to submit a Graduation Application to receive a degree/credential. Students may apply to graduate in either the fall, spring or summer semesters.

Graduation Application Deadline: Applications should be submitted to the Records & Registration Office PRIOR to the start of the final semester of coursework toward completing the degree or certificate.

Late Applications: Applications will be processed after the deadline. However, it should be noted that for spring and summer applications submitted after the start of the spring semester, NMC cannot guarantee your name will be listed in the commencement program.

Once the graduation application is received in the Records & Registration Office, a preliminary degree audit of your record will be completed and the results sent to your NMC email. Please allow approximately two weeks from the time your application is received in the Records & Registration Office to receive the audit results. If at any time after you submit a Graduation Application you need to request a change in your expected date of graduation, contact the Records & Registration Office as soon as possible. DO NOT submit another application before speaking with someone.

Completing a Degree or Certificate

Once you have applied for a degree or certificate, you will have an expected semester of graduation. After you complete that final semester of classes and the grading process is completed for that semester, final degree audits will be completed. If the audit determines all requirements have been met, your degree or certificate will be awarded and posted to your official transcript.

What happens if you do not complete the degree or certificate requirements?

Once you complete your final semester of classes toward a degree or certificate, and the grading process is completed for that semester, final degree audits will be completed. If the audit determines all requirements were not completed, you will receive an email notification to your NMC email from the Records & Registration Office staff with information on your next steps.

If at any time after you submit a Graduation Application you need to request a change in your expected date of graduation, contact the Records & Registration Office.

Diplomas and Certificates

Diplomas and certificates are not handed out on commencement day. Once all degree or certificate requirements have been fulfilled, the degree or certificate will be mailed to the current address on file approximately 6–8 weeks after final grades have been processed for the semester of graduation.

It is important that students keep a current address on file with NMC. This is where the diploma will be mailed. You may update your address through Self-Service at any time. Any questions or concerns regarding the address on file may be directed to the Records and Registration Office at or (231) 995-1049.

Commencement – 2020 has been postponed at this time 

Date: Saturday, May 2, 2020
Place: Traverse City Central High School Gymnasium
Time: 12:45 p.m. – graduates arrive at the Small Gym
1:30 p.m. – assembly begins promptly at this time
2 p.m. – ceremony begins

  • The event is free
  • No tickets are required
  • There is no rehearsal – staff will be assigned to guide and assist
  • Allow approximately 2 1/2 hours for the ceremony
  • Presiding – Northwestern Michigan College President Timothy Nelson
  • Parking is free and available in all campus parking lots
  • Formal processional begins at 2 pm


If you plan to participate in commencement, you must RSVP to let NMC know whether you will or will not be attending. This will ensure a seat and name card will be issued for you.

RSVP information will be provided here in early 2020.


Although the requirements may be completed during any semester (fall, spring or summer), there is only one graduation ceremony, typically held in early May of each year. Students are eligible to participate in NMC’s Commencement Ceremony if they completed their degree in fall of the prior year, or have submitted a Graduation Application (see the Graduation section above if you haven’t applied yet) and have received an audit of their record to their NMC email confirming they are on track to graduate in spring or summer of the current year.

**It should be noted that we cannot guarantee your name will be listed in the commencement program if you did not submit a Graduation Application prior to March 1st before commencement**

Commencement Preparation and Information

Cap and Gown

The most important thing to remember is that you must purchase your cap and gown prior to commencement day! They are available to purchase from the NMC Bookstore starting in mid-March. We recommend you take a minute while you are there and try on both the cap and gown to ensure a proper fit. If you already own a black cap and gown, you will still want to purchase an NMC tassel. It is very easy to lose the tassel so be sure to take extra care and secure it with your cap and gown. Again, be sure to plan ahead and purchase your cap and gown prior to commencement day! You may contact the bookstore at or (231) 995-1367 with any questions.

Your CAP, GOWN AND TASSEL are yours to keep, as are honor medallions and cords.


Commencement participants who have an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher (as of the prior fall semester) will have honors noted in the program and receive an honor medallion or cords on commencement day to be worn around the neck. Grades from spring courses will not be included.

Phi Theta Kappa stoles are obtained prior to commencement day. You may contact the Advising Center (231) 995-1040 about obtaining your stole.


NMC is proud to recognize those of you who are both active military members and veterans. In gratitude for your service to our country and in recognition of your achievements, you will receive a red, white and blue cord. These cords are handed out at the name card table on commencement day and are worn around the neck, over the black graduation gown. A designation will also be noted in the program.

Disability Accommodations

Accommodations for graduates and guests with disabilities will be available. Below are the services that will be available:

Accessible Parking
Parking will be available for individuals with a DMV issued disabled person parking placard or license plate.

Wheelchairs and Accessible Seating
The venue will be wheelchair accessible with a designated seating area. Ushers will be present to assist with accessible seating.

Other Accommodations
A sign language interpreter will be on-site.

For more information on special accommodations, you may contact us at or 231-995-1049.


Call Photography is our official commencement photography company and they will be taking two pictures of each graduate, first in the lineup room and second as you receive your diploma during the ceremony. There is no obligation to purchase enlargements and Call Photography will send you a link to your images within 72 hours of the ceremony. We are asking students to fill out Call Photography’s online check-in form before May 1st! Forms completed by May 1st will receive a coupon for 10% off your graduation photos. One code per person and only valid when ordering online.

Diploma Covers

Diploma covers (not the actual diploma) are presented to you at the ceremony. Spring and summer diplomas are issued approximately 6–8 weeks after grades have been processed for the semester of graduation. Diplomas are issued to graduates who have completed all academic requirements and have met all financial obligations to NMC.

Commencement Day Checklist and Schedule

Don’t forget your cap and gown! Caps are worn with the top in a horizontal position, not tilted upward. Tassels are worn on the right side of the cap at the beginning of the ceremony.

All personal belongings, such as purse, sweater, camera, etc., should be left with family or friends. There will be no place to leave these items during the ceremony.

Below are instructions to help you prepare for the day. Keep in mind there will be ushers and NMC staff to direct you throughout the lineup and ceremony. Don’t worry if you forget a step — we will be there to help!

12:45 p.m. – graduates arrive at the Small Gym
1:30 p.m. – assembly begins promptly at this time
2 p.m. – ceremony begins

  • Upon arrival, report to the NMC check-in table. This is where you will pick up your 3 x 5 card with your name and line number on it. Honor medallions and cords will be distributed at this time. You will be lining up by the degree/certificate listed on your card. Hang on to your card! You will be handing this card to the person announcing your name during the ceremony. (NMC/FSU graduates should stop at both check-in tables to pick up cards.)
  • After you receive your name card, go to the Photographer’s station. Once you are in the photo line, please pay attention and be ready for your picture.
  • While you wait to assemble and line up, enjoy the New Graduate Celebration activities in the small gym, sponsored by NMC Alumni Relations.
  • If you are receiving two degrees/certificates, you may line up and sit with either group (your choice). Staff at the name card table will assist with questions on this.
  • Starting at 1:30 PM, you will assemble and line up. Staff will be there to direct you. It’s important that you listen to the announcements!
  • You will be lined up and led from the small gym into the large gym at approximately 2 PM. As you enter the large gym, you will process along the line of faculty, who will be standing. Proceed along and past the faculty line to your chair (an usher will direct you!). The map section below includes a layout of the lineup and ceremony areas.
  • Once you arrive at your row of seats, walk forward, turn and stand in front of the next available chair. Just make sure you are in front of a chair and remain standing until the conclusion of the National Anthem.
  • When it’s time to receive your degree cover, President Nelson will ask the class to stand. After his presentation, the first two rows will remain standing and all other rows will be seated – this will allow the guests a better view of the degree presentation. Getting your degree cover will take place in front of the platform, not on it. You will exit left from your chair, go to the microphone and hand your 3x5 name card to the person reading the names. Wait until the person in front of you has given their card to the reader before you approach. (Again, an usher will be there to direct you). Continue walking (do not stop and wait for your name to be read) to receive congratulatory handshakes from the Board of Trustees and then obtain your degree cover from the college President. The photographer will also take your picture at this time. Upon receiving your degree cover, re-enter your row from the center aisle and be seated. As a row nears completion, the next row will then stand. Ushers will assist you.
  • At the conclusion of the ceremony the Recessional will begin. You will be directed to exit and follow the Platform party to the small gym.
  • After the commencement ceremony, there will be a Commencement Reception & New Alumni Celebration in the small gym for you and your guests. Refreshments and an assortment of dessert items will be provided.

View a layout of the lineup and ceremony areas here »

View a Google map of the Traverse City Central High School Gym location here »

  • The gym and parking are located on the north side of the property.
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