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Graduate Commencement Information


Department Obligations

Unpaid fines accrued prior to December 1 (Fall)/April 15 (Spring) are sent to Business Services for collection. Unpaid fines accrued after December 1 (Fall)/April 15 (Spring) will result in the holding of diploma(s) and official transcript(s).


Business Services

University policy states that in order for students to participate in commencement, as well as receive their diploma(s) and official transcript(s), all financial obligations to Cairn University must be paid. The deadline for the payment is December 1 for Fall (December) commencement and April 15 for Spring (May) commencement. If you are on an official payment plan (Nelnet Campus Commerce), the last payment on this plan would need to be made a month before the dates listed above. You can see if you have a balance due by logging onto your Self-Service account (Finance tab/Balance/Detail by Charge-credit). Payments can be made on our WEB payment page here by echeck or credit card. Credit cards payments are subject to a 2% convenience fee charged on the amount of the payment. Acceptable credit cards are Visa, Master Card, Discover, and American Express.

Students may want to leave any remaining credit on their account in the event of additional fines assessed from other departments (Library, Security, or Student Life). Unpaid fines from other departments accrued prior to December 1 (Fall)/April 15 (Spring) are sent to Business Services for collection. Unpaid fines accrued after December 1 (Fall)/April 15 (Spring) will result in the holding of diploma(s) and official transcript(s). These fines must be paid directly to the department issuing the fine.

A refund can be produced once you have submitted the request in writing via mail or email to [email protected] after graduation ceremonies are complete. Please make sure you include a mailing address where you will be located after graduation and make sure you have signed the request.


Safety and Security

In order for students to participate in commencement, as well as receive their diploma(s) and official transcript(s), all financial obligations to Cairn University must be paid.  Unpaid parking fines accrued prior to December 1 (Fall)/April 15 (Spring) are sent to Business Services for collection. To pay your citation, Please go to and look for the link (pay for a citation). Unpaid parking fines accrued after December 1 (Fall)/April 15 (Spring) will result in the holding of diploma(s) and official transcript(s).  All Safety and Security fines must be paid online at
If you have any questions, please contact [email protected].


In order for students to participate in commencement, as well as receive their diploma(s) and official transcript(s), all library materials must be returned and financial obligations to Cairn University must be paid. All library materials are due the Friday before commencement. Unpaid fines accrued prior to December 1 for Fall and April 15 for Spring can be paid by cash, check or credit card at the Library; anything unpaid by December 1 for Fall and April 15 for Spring will be sent to Business Services for collection. Unreturned items and unpaid fines will result in the holding of diploma(s) and official transcript(s).

Library accounts can be viewed at: If you have any questions or concerns please contact [email protected].


Traditional Undergraduate Senior Survey (Required)

This short survey is administered in eLearning and allows students to evaluate personal experiences in regards to the academic, co-curricular, and overall quality of life. The data collected assists the University in evaluating its services, programs and helps create a community that provides an enriching experience for our students.

Contact Rick Houseknecht at [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.


Financial Aid Loan Counseling Requirements

All students who have borrowed federal loans during any portion of their education at Cairn are required to complete Direct Loan Exit Counseling. This requirement is completed online at As you get started, it would be helpful to have available information about your income, financial aid and living expenses.  At the end of your exit counseling session, you will be asked for information that will be included as part of your federal student loan records. You must provide the following:

Name, address, email address and phone number for:

  • Your next of kin
  • Two references who live in the US
  • Your future employer (if known)

You will need your FSA ID username and password to Sign In, then look for the “Manage Loans” and from the dropdown menu select “Complete Exit Counseling.”

  • Select the School State: Pennsylvania and School Name: Cairn University
  • Click the Add School button
  • Click the Continue button
  • Follow the instructions to continue through the counseling session.
  • Be sure to include Cairn as the school you attended so that we are notified that you have completed the counseling.

The counseling session typically takes about 20-30 minutes.  At the end you will click the Submit Counseling button that will send confirmation to the Cairn University Financial Aid office that you have completed this counseling requirement.

Contact Financial Aid at [email protected] if you have questions about this process.


Student Ministries

Students must satisfactorily complete six (6) ministry experiences (two (2) of which need to be a church related ministry) and receive satisfactory evaluation from a ministry mentor in order to graduate from Cairn. Students should contact Chelsea Bucci at [email protected] with questions about these requirements.



Please be aware that professors must submit current semester grades for all graduating students by 10 am on Wednesday, December 13. If students have a course grade of “NR” or “I” from a previous term, it is their responsibility to contact the professor and request they submit a Change of Grade Form to the Registrar’s Office by the December 13 deadline.


Latin Honors

Undergraduate candidates who have completed at least 60 credits in residence are eligible for graduation honors.  Those who attain a scholastic average of 3.50 graduate Cum Laude. Those who attain a scholastic average of 3.75 graduate Magna Cum Laude. Candidates who attain a scholastic average of 3.90 graduate Summa Cum Laude.


Academic Attire

  • Caps and gowns may be picked up in the Registrar’s Office. Dates and times: TBA
  • An email will be sent out on dates/times that pick-up will be available.
  • Men and women are to wear dark shoes; men are to wear dark socks.
  • All graduates participating in the Commencement ceremony must arrive wearing full academic attire: cap with tassel, gown, and hood. Only University-issued honor cords and academic medals are to be worn with academic attire. 



Tickets/Seating for Commencement

This is a special celebration for the University, its graduates and their family and friends. By following these guidelines, we hope to provide an honoring ceremony that respects the dedicated work of all those in attendance. Please keep the following in mind:

  • A designated drop-off area for baby strollers will be available outside of the gymnasium.
  • Tickets are not required for the ceremony.
  • Seating is on a first-come, first serve basis.
  • Doors open at 9 am for seating in the Mason Activity Center (MAC, Gymnasium).
  • Attendees should be in their seats by 9:55 am. Ushers will ask individuals to remove any saved seats beginning at 9:50 am.
  • After 9:55 am, individuals will be instructed to view the graduation ceremonies from the overflow area on the second floor of the MAC.
  • For the safety of all, backpacks and oversized bags are not allowed in the gym; attendees are requested to leave these items in their vehicles. All bags are subject to search.

Please keep in mind that, due to fire code restrictions, the ushers will not allow individuals to stand or sit in undesignated areas (on the floor or steps of the bleachers) and will ask them to view the ceremonies from the overflow area.


Commencement Ceremony Guidelines

  • All Graduates should check in at the table in the lower MAC (near the elevator) 45 minutes prior to their ceremony to receive a color-coded placement card. Graduates should come dressed in academic attire. Restrooms are available nearby.
  • Graduates should not bring any personal items (purses, cameras, etc.) to the lineup. Personal items should be given to guests for safekeeping as there is no secure area to store valuables. Cairn University is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
  • During the program, watch Dr. Todd Williams for signals to rise or to remove caps. Only men should remove caps for prayer.
  • Listen carefully for the cue to rise with the correct degree group and enter the line for the platform.
  • Tassels are to be worn on the right side of caps and remain there until after receiving the diploma cover, then, graduates should move the tassel to the left side of their cap.



Commencement Ceremony Conclusion

At the conclusion of the Commencement ceremony, board members and faculty will depart from the gym first. Graduates will exit next, starting with the last row. When exiting the gym, please continue moving outside into the circular driveway. Do not stop to greet family and friends in the MAC’s lower level.

When all graduates have exited the gym, family and friends may meet students outside. Graduates may return to the platform inside the gymnasium for photographs if desired.

In the event of inclement weather, board members, faculty, and graduates will be directed by the ushers to an alternate lineup area. Once the recessional has concluded, graduates may join their family and friends in the gymnasium.



Diplomas and transcripts will be printed following the Commencement ceremony and will be sent to the address indicated on your Graduation Application. Please notify the Registrar’s Office of any address changes after submission of the Graduation Application.  Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.



Cairn Security Officers will direct traffic on the day of Commencement. Handicapped parking is available in parking lot D. For all other parking lot locations please download the Campus Map at:



Chappell Graduation Images will photograph graduates as they receive their diplomas. Chappell will mail each graduate a passport-size proof within a week of graduation. Graduates will have the opportunity to select from a variety of photo packages but are under no obligation to make a purchase.

NOTE: We ask that during the ceremony, family and friends remain in their seats to prevent interference with the ceremony or the Chappell photographer.

Area Hotels

The Courtyard by Marriott and The Homewood Suites by Hilton offer a discounted rate for Cairn visitors. Be sure to ask for the “Cairn Commencement” rate when booking. You may also access a list of hotels on our website.


Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any other questions regarding Commencement please contact:

Dustin Smith
[email protected]

Graduate Commencement Banquet Registration - Formstack

Graduate Commencement Banquet Registration

You and two guests may attend at no cost. Additional guests are $20 each.

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Name (as it appears on your credit card)*
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