Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Convocation: What to Expect when You're Graduating

University of Alberta Degree

If you’re coming to the end of your U of A journey (for now - there’s always that after-degree/grad school/homecoming weekend…), you’re probably getting ready to celebrate your four (or five… or six…) years of hard work at your convocation ceremony. 

If you’re preparing for convocation, chances are you’ve already graduated from high school. You’re probably thinking, “I’ve graduated before, this is going to be a breeze!”. As an after-degree student, I’ve already been through the U of A’s convocation once… and let me tell you, it’s nothing like a high school graduation! Here’s what you need to know:

Convocation is not automatic 

Applying for Graduation - UAlberta

It’s your responsibility to make sure you have applied to convocate using Bear Tracks. Bear Tracks will update you of your status. If you’re not sure about anything when it comes to your graduation status - talk to your faculty! They can help you figure out if you have the credits you need and answer any other questions you might have. If you aren’t convocating this year - it’s a good idea to get these things done ahead of time to avoid surprises, so think about them early next year! 

If you've missed the application deadline for Spring Convocation (i.e. June Convocation), keep in mind that you can always apply for Fall Convocation. (It simply means that you get a few extra months to pick out your convocation outfit.)

Keep everything up to date 

It's a dog typing!
Image courtesy of

While you’re checking your graduation status on Bear Tracks, make sure that you double check your name, program, and address all appear correctly. You can also update your contact info on Bear Tracks as an alumnus, to make sure any correspondence from the Alumni Association goes directly to your new (grown up!) address. 

Get grad photos 

Convocation Photos at UAlberta

If you missed your faculty portrait session, it’s not too late. SUB Photo is open for Grad Photos all year long, so make an appointment for your next trip to campus! If you’d prefer to DIY your Grad Photos, check out this post for a list of great places to take them on campus… my favourite is the Old Arts Building!

RSVP and invite your family 

RSVP for Convocation - UAlberta

You need to confirm your attendance at the ceremony on Bear Tracks. When you confirm your attendance, three guest tickets will be set aside for you. If you would like more than three guests to attend your graduation, your guests can wait at the Jubilee Box Office. If there are any tickets left for the ceremony, they will be made available on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you have family who isn’t able to attend, or don’t want to risk not getting an extra ticket, the ceremonies are broadcast live online at 

Pick an outfit

Picking out an outfit

Another way convocation is really different than high school graduation is the outfits! Most girls tend to wear a knee-length dress and low heels, and dress shoes, dress pants, and a shirt and tie for the guys. During the ceremony, your gown will cover your outfit, and most people prefer to take photos with the gown on as well, so don’t stress out about what you wear, just make sure you’ll be comfortable, and that your outfit will work with your graduation apparel. 

Pick up your cap and gown… and your degree! 

University Degree - UAlberta

On Bear Tracks, you are able to reserve your graduation apparel. The deadline to reserve is May 14th, so make sure you get online before then! Shortly before your convocation, you will be able to pick your apparel up from the Bookstore. (Click here to find out when you’ll be able to pick up your graduation packet.)

When you go to the bookstore to get your apparel, you will also get your parchment (that means your degree!), your guest tickets, and graduation cap. And yes, you do get your degree before you walk across the stage. 

Make sure that you don’t have any library fees or parking tickets - any outstanding fees must be paid two weeks before convocation to make sure that your degree is ready in time. 

Go to the ceremony

Crossing the stage at UAlberta

Convocation ceremony times are found on Bear Tracks, and most ceremonies are at the Jubilee! Augustana's ceremony will be held on the lovely campus in Camrose. During the ceremony, you will cross the stage when your name and degree are announced. While you cross, you’ll shake hands with notable university officials, and then pose for a photo at the end of your walk. Since you already picked up your parchment from the Bookstore, you don’t need to worry about collecting anything when you’re on the stage. On stage you will be shaking hands, not holding paper, so practice your hand shake and make sure you have a solid (and preferably non-sweaty) grip to share with the deans, president, and other dignitaries who’ll be waiting for you on stage. 

Your ceremony will mostly consist of the walking across the stage, but will also include an address from the president, as well as a speech from an honorary degree recipient.


Celebrating Success! (Anchorman Gif)
Image courtesy of

Some faculties or student groups host graduation receptions or banquets for graduates. Check with your faculty and faculty association to see if there are any events planned for your convocation! If not, make plans with friends and family to celebrate your way - with a walk to all your favourite spots on campus, a celebratory drink at Room At The Top, or a family dinner at one of the great restaurants near campus. 

Whatever you have planned for convocation, I hope that your day is filled with family, friends, and memories. You’ve worked hard for your degree - so celebrate your achievement!

For more information about convocation, click here.


About the Author

My name is Erin and I’m going into my eighth, and final, year at the University of Alberta. When I grow up, I want to be a fairy princess… but since the U of A doesn’t offer that program, I am working on completing my Bachelor of Elementary Education.

I can usually be found consuming excessive amounts of caffeine in the library, volunteering with my sorority sisters, or hitting up the latest campus events.

What I love most about the U of A is how different the experience is for everyone, and how many experiences each student can have. I hope to share my stories and yours, so that together we can discover what this amazing campus has to offer!



  1. Thank Erin, very useful info!

  2. What if I decide not to participate the convocation, where can I pick up my degree ? Office of Registrar or my faculty ?

  3. If you'd like to pick up your parchment/degree in person, you should be able to stop by the Convocation and Celebrations Office in SAB between June 12 and 20 (see the Registrar's website for exact dates and times. After June 20, degrees will be mailed to the address you've saved to BearTracks. For more info, check the Registrar's website.

  4. Hi, it mentions international mailing. I'm an international student but I'm staying in Edmonton until September. Will they mail it to my current address in Edmonton or my home address in my home country? Thanks.

  5. My understanding is that your degree should be sent to the address that you have recorded on BearTracks. I would assume that they would mail the degree during the summer months, so before September, however it is likely best to contact the Registrar's Office for the exact details of their mailing schedule. They can be reached by phone at:

    Local: 780.492.3113
    Toll-Free: 1-855-492-3113


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