NNU Logo

University Registrar

Graduation Info

Graduation Application Timeline

The degree completion process requires that all students planning to graduate must complete a graduation application one semester prior to the semester of planned graduation. This allows the student the opportunity to receive an official advising guide which indicates any deficiencies in degree completion. The student will have a semester in which to correct such deficiencies.

Students must apply for graduation on or before the due date. When the graduation application is processed, a graduation fee will be added to your student account balance.

Late applicants will be charged an additional late fee of $100.

graduates jumping off boulder together

If you plan to graduate in the Fall Semester you must apply to graduate by MAY 15.
If you plan to graduate in the Spring Semester you must apply to graduate by OCTOBER 1.
If you plan to graduate in the Summer Semester you must apply to graduate by JANUARY 15.


If you plan to graduate in the Fall Semester you must apply to graduate by JUNE 1.
If you plan to graduate in the Spring Semester you must apply to graduate by OCTOBER 15.
If you plan to graduate in the Summer Semester you must apply to graduate by JANUARY 15.


If you plan to graduate in the Fall Semester you must apply to graduate by JUNE 1.
If you plan to graduate in the Spring Semester you must apply to graduate by OCTOBER 15.
If you plan to graduate in the Summer Semester you must apply to graduate by JANUARY 15.

Graduation Rate Information

Colleges and universities are required to publicize their graduation rates. The graduation rate is calculated by identifying all first-time first-year students as a cohort and tracking them to degree completion. Northwest Nazarene University must report the number of students in the first-time first-year cohort who complete their degree within a 4, 5 and 6-year period. The number of graduates within a six-year period, compared to the initial cohort number, results in the calculation of the graduation rate.

Six year graduation rates for Northwest Nazarene University

—1998 (49%)        —2001 (40%)        —2004 (52%)        —2007 (54%)        —2010 (49%)        —2013 (49%)        —2016 (49%)        —2019 (61%)

—1999 (44%)        —2002 (54%)        —2005 (49%)        —2008 (53%)        —2011 (52%)        —2014 (56%)         —2017 (56%)        —2020 (63%)

—2000 (41%)        —2003 (49%)        —2006 (54%)        —2009 (55%)        —2012 (49%)        —2015 (49%)        —2018 (59%)        —2021 (60%)

Graduation Protocol

Below are a few words about protocol for the NNU graduation ceremonies.

  • Press your gown if necessary.
  • There should be no decorations, flowers or notes pinned on the gown or mortarboard. Remember the focus is academic achievement.
  • The square cap is worn so the flat board and the floor are parallel.
  • Men please remove your hats, primarily for prayer. A key is to watch the platform personnel and do as they do.
During and after the events

Pictures will be taken by a professional photographer during the ceremony. Go to Grad Photos for information about purchasing them.

Baccalaureate – We ask that there be no photos during the ceremony. This is a religious ceremony. We have made special arrangements for photos to be taken with the hooding doctors. Hooding doctors will be available for 20 minutes on the platform for pictures following the service.

Commencement – There are two parts to Commencement.

  • The ceremony occurs from the time the degree candidates are seated until the individual degree candidates are presented as a group.
  • The celebration comes at the presentation of the degree candidates: photos, applause, etc.
The difference between graduation (degree conferral) and commencement

A student’s official graduation from Northwest Nazarene University occurs on the day the University confers students’ degrees. After that date, students can commission or confirm with employers they have completed all degree requirements and are graduates of Northwest Nazarene University.

The phrase “conferred degree” means the student has completed all the academic and administrative requirements of their education program. When your degree is conferred, it means you are a legal and official graduate of your program.

Degrees are conferred in a rolling process to allow students who complete all program requirements to have their final transcript and diploma. Degrees are posted at the end of the semester (after grades have been entered and degree requirements verified), and the end of each month during the semester. Students whose degrees have already been conferred are encouraged to participate in the annual commencement ceremony conducted each spring.

Commencement is the official ceremony celebrating students’ graduation. Graduation/degree conferral and the Commencement ceremony do not need to occur on the same day.

Revocation or Withholding of Degree

Revocation of Degree – A degree awarded from Northwest Nazarene University may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation or other violation of University standards in obtaining the degree, or for other serious violation committed by a student prior to graduation.

Withholding of Degree – The University may permanently withhold awarding a degree, or withhold the awarding of a degree pending the completion of Disciplinary Procedures, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any.

University Symbols and Regalia

University Seal

The University Seal – The symbolism of the seal captures the University’s commitment to her mission and motto. The Greek words appearing above the cross have been suggested to mean “Be seeking the Kingdom of God,” reflective of the University motto from Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” The small triangle appearing near the lower left contains, clockwise, the Greek words “mind, spirit, body,” and represents the University’s commitment to the development of the whole person. Other symbols will be recognized as the shield of faith, the torch of the light of learning, and the olive branches of peace. This seal serves as another reminder of the continuing challenge to integrate faith and learning in all that is done at Northwest Nazarene University.


Presidential Medallion

The Presidential Medallion is worn by the University president as a symbol of that office. It is a representation of the University Seal struck on brushed antique brass and hung from a brass chain. Other University officials or honorees wear smaller medallions hung from ribbons in the University colors of red and black.


University Mace

The University Mace is carried at formal academic events each year by the senior teaching faculty member of the University as a symbol of academic order and authority. Professor Dennis Waller is the current bearer of the University Mace.


Institutional Banners

Institutional Banners represent the University and each of the seven academic units: the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; School of Business; School of Education, Social Work and Counseling; School of Health and Science; School of Theology and Christian Ministries; Extended University Services; and Learning Resources.


Academic Regalia

The Academic Regalia worn by faculty and students and officers of the University at academic functions dates back to the Middle Ages. The academic gown in America has traditionally been black, although many universities have now authorized doctoral gowns in the universities’ own colors. The cut of the gown identifies the degree. The bachelor’s gown has pointed sleeves and is worn closed. The master’s gown has oblong-cut sleeves and is worn open or closed. The doctoral gown, which is also worn open or closed, has bell-shaped sleeves, usually crossed with bands of velvet.



The Hood is the most distinctive feature of academic attire in the United States. It was once a cowl that could be thrown over the head for warmth but is now worn only for decorative purposes, thrown over the back and suspended from the shoulders. The length of the hood indicates the level of the degree. The color of the velvet border identifies the field of learning in which the degree was earned. These colors include: White for arts, letters and humanities; Dusk for business; Light Blue for education; Brown for fine arts; Purple for law; Lemon for library science; Apricot for nursing; Pink for music; Dark Blue for philosophy; Gold for science; Citron for social work; Scarlet for theology. The inner lining of the hood proclaims the color or colors of the institution awarding the degree.


Honor Cords and Stoles

Honor cords are worn by undergraduate students graduating with summa cum laude (gold), magna cum laude (silver), or cum laude (white) honors.

Purple and Gold

Purple and gold honor cords are worn by members of Delta Mu Delta, the National Honor Society in Business Administration. Inductees are students in good standing selected from the top 20 percent of the junior and senior class, approved by the Business faculty. The minimum GPA requirement is 3.2 for undergraduate students and 3.25 for graduate students.


Blue and White

Blue and white honor cords are worn by members of Chi Sigma Iota, the counseling honor society which recognizes students for academic excellence.


Purple and Red

Purple and red honor cords are worn by members of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-health honor society. NNU members maintain a high pre-health GPA and participate in service to the community and promote the highest quality of pre-health education.


Forest Green and Ivory

Forest green and ivory honor cords are worn by members of Sigma Pi Sigma, the official honor society of the physics profession. Election to Sigma Pi Sigma requires distinctive achievement and high scholarship in physics with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in physics and 3.5 overall.



Gold honor cords are worn by members of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. Members must be in good standing at the university and in the department, must be in the top 35% of their class, and must have a minimum GPA of 3.0.



Red stoles are worn by ordained ministers.


Graduate Program Graduation Timeline

Commencement participation policy

A student may participate in commencement if all degree requirements are completed or will be completed at the end of the current semester.


With all other requirements met, a student may participate in commencement if no more than 6 credits remain uncompleted beyond the current semester.

For Ed.D. and Ph.D. students

With all other degree requirements met, a student may participate in commencement if only the following remain uncompleted beyond the current semester:
Submission of the final, approved written dissertation to the NNU Library’s UMI dissertation database.

Clearance for participation

Graduate students will be cleared for participation through the Registrar’s Office. Letters of participation will be sent to graduate students by the Registrar Graduate Program Technician. Participation for graduate students is granted based on the courses completed by the spring semester.

Undergraduate Participation Policy

graduation policy

The following graduation policy has been approved by the Northwest Nazarene University Academic Council: Undergraduate. Students may participate in graduation ceremonies if they meet one of the two criteria listed below.

  • All degree requirements are completed, including the Cultural Competency experience.
  • With all other requirements met, there are no more than 6 credits remaining for degree completion.
Undergraduate Honors at Graduation

Students must have completed at least 60 semester credits at Northwest Nazarene University or have transferred to NNU with a CUM GPA of 3.5 or higher to be eligible for honors at graduation. The honors categories are listed below.

Summa Cum Laude
3.90 – 4.00

Magna Cum Laude
3.75 – 3.899

Cum Laude
3.50 – 3.74

Honor Society Candidates
Students must have completed at least 60 semester credits at Northwest Nazarene University or have transferred to NNU with a CUM GPA of 3.5 or higher to be eligible for candidacy to the NNU Honor Society, Phi Delta Lambda. The criteria for candidacy are listed below.

Upper 15% of the Graduating Class*
Cum GPA of at least 3.5
Good Character
Faculty Vote


*Note: Students may receive honors, but may not be in the upper 15% required for candidacy in the Honor Society.

Diploma Order Information

Diplomas are sent via U. S. Mail. You should receive your diploma 4-6 weeks after the degree is granted.

Diplomas will be sent to your permanent address. If you want your diploma sent to any other address, this must be requested in writing.

If you require a replacement diploma:

  • You will need to place an order through Parchment.
  • The fee for an additional diploma is $25.00.
  • It should be noted that the original signatures on your diploma may have changed. The current administrators will sign your new diploma.
  • Some students request that a new diploma reflect a name change. Because the diploma is an historical document, the name used at the time of degree completion must be used.

If you have further questions about your diploma please contact the registrar’s office at 208.467.8548 or email us at registrar@nnu.edu.