Congratulations! You are approaching the end of your graduate studies, an accomplishment the Graduate College celebrates with you. The information contained in this section will explain the ceremony of commencement and how to participate.

Students must ensure that all paperwork and required documentation has been submitted to the Graduate College prior to graduating. Completing your academic requirements are a necessary but not sufficient condition for graduating; you are also required to have all required forms completed and filed appropriately in order for your degree to be conferred.

Students’ names will appear in the Commencement Program issued for the semester of degree completion. Summer graduates’ names appear in the program for the following fall semester. To ensure their name appears in the program, students must release their information through MyUNLV.

History about the Academic Doctoral Regalia and our Lucky Coin Tradition

At commencements, you’ll notice graduates wearing fancy robes or regalia that may come in a multitude of colors. Doctoral regalia in particular has a long-standing historical tradition. The European sumptuary recognized gowns and hoods as the official dress of academics in 1321. It was standardized in the U.S. by the Intercollegiate Commission that created the Intercollegiate Code in 1985. It is periodically updated, and the last update was in 1986 when it was recognized that dark blue is the official color for Ph.D.s. - UNLV is unique. Gray with scarlet doctoral robes are absolutely distinct, and there is no other university that has a robe like ours. We adopted the unique scarlet and gray in 2012 when Neal Smatresk was the president at UNLV.

Academic costuming dates back to the Middle Ages when most educational institutions, considered to be early universities, were situated in churches and cathedrals. These large buildings were often open, lofty spaces; and in order to keep warm, clergies routinely wore robes. Since many scholars and teachers were part of the clergy, the clerical robes became the foundation for scholarly attire.

The gowns provided warmth with large sleeves that were useful in holding writing instruments. The hood also offered warmth and later evolved to colors that distinguished the type of degree and field of expertise. The hood also harkens back to ancient Greece when students would give donations to teachers by placing coins in their hood because it was not appropriate to pay teachers outright.

We can still carry on this tradition today. Graduates, please let family members and friends know that they can continue the tradition of dropping money into hoods.

UNLV commencements have historically been held with both undergraduate and graduate students combined. Since this is our inaugural Graduate Commencement at UNLV that gathers our graduate community together, we’d like to begin a new tradition of utilizing the doctoral hoods and a new UNLV coin. Our “Vegas twist” is that after a graduate is hooded, the advisor will drop a lucky UNLV coin in the graduate’s hood, symbolically saying farewell, good luck, and best wishes as they embark on their next journey. This is uniquely UNLV and Las Vegas.