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The Process

Nearly all parents say it’s important for their student to graduate within four years. While individual circumstances and unplanned circumstances can interrupt that four-year plan, the University provides multiple support systems and policies that promote four-year graduation plans, including how to graduate in four years, degree planning graduation planner, and graduation checklists and deadlines.

The Ceremony

Each college at the University has their own commencement ceremony. The Commencement Calendar lists information (e.g., date, time, location)  on a college's commencement ceremony. Note: if your student’s college is not currently listed on the Commencement Calendar, please have your student contact the Student Services office in his or her academic college.

Visit University Bookstores for caps and gowns and announcements or attend GradFest, the U of M's official "one-stop" source for graduation information, services and products. GradFest is a great way to save time, and money while preparing for commencement and life after college.

Commencement Ceremony Photos

Students will receive information about how to obtain photos taken during the commencement ceremony. For questions, they can contact their college.

University Traditions

Regents seal image.Example of the Regents seal on a wall in the McNamara Alumni Center.

Regents Seal

The antique lamp on the regents seal represents the metaphysical sciences; the telescope, the physical sciences; the plow, the industrial arts; and the palette with brushes, the fine arts. The Latin motto means “a common bond for all the arts."

Wordmark, 'M,' Driven to Discover

The wordmark is the primary means of communicating the University of Minnesota name. It consists of the words “University of Minnesota” in a modified Times Roman typeface. The block M is one of the best-recognized logos in the state. All campuses, colleges, departments, and other units are encouraged to use it. "Driven to Discover" is the University’s official brand. It captures the search for knowledge and the drive to share that search with the larger community. Examples of all three can be seen in the header of this web page.

School Colors

Because the University’s colors varied during the early years, William Watts Folwell, first president of the University, appointed English instructor Augusta Norwood Smith to choose permanent school colors. Smith, “a woman of excellent taste,” according to Folwell, chose maroon and gold. First used sometime between 1876 and 1880, the colors were not officially approved by the regents until March 1940.

School Songs

Hail! Minnesota” was written by Truman Rickard, class of 1904, for use in a class play. University student Arthur Upson wrote a second verse in 1905. In 1945, the song became the official state anthem. The “Minnesota Rouser,” sung at most University athletic events, was written by Floyd M. Hutsell in 1909 in response to a contest sponsored by the Minneapolis Tribune. Hutsell, a Minneapolis choir director and voice teacher, won $100 in the contest to choose a University fight song.

Academic Costume and Procession

Academic gowns date back to the 14th century, when they served two functions of nearly equal importance: The distinctive apparel indicated the academic rank of its wearer, and the long gown kept the scholar warm in the drafty stone halls of the academy. Today academic gowns are a colorful reminder of the heritage of academic communities; they are worn on special occasions like convocations, commencements, and presidential inaugurations.

There is more to gowns than color. The markings, cut, and colors of each gown—indeed, the academic procession itself—all have meaning. The lining of academic hoods reflects different disciplines—for example, green for medicine, light blue for education, and pink for music. Dark blue denotes a Ph.D., whatever the field of study.

Traditionally, gowns in the United States have been black. In recent years a number of universities have adopted gowns of distinctive school colors.


The University of Minnesota mace came into existence in 1961, 110 years after the University was founded and eight centuries after the mace’s warlike image faded and it became a symbol of peaceful leadership. As early as the 13th century, kings were removing the spikes and encrusting their ceremonial maces with jewels and precious metals.

In 1961 Alfred O.C. Nier, Regents Professor of Physics, carried the mace for the first time at the inauguration of President O. Meredith Wilson. Although previous academic ceremonies at the University of Minnesota sometimes had implements resembling maces, this was the first official mace.

The mace was designed by Philip Morton, an art professor. His modern design features a solid aluminum handle set with the regents seal. The “hammer” end is a crystal sphere four inches in diameter. The sphere is surmounted by the North Star, symbol of the state of Minnesota. The University machine shop constructed all of the mace’s components except for the crystal, which came from California. The mace is traditionally carried by a distinguished senior faculty member. 

Student receiving diploma at graduation ceremony.

Students should receive graduation information by email. The information listed for the following colleges and their websites is mostly for students, but it will provide you with a date and some of the information you may be looking for.

College of Biological Sciences
229 Snyder Hall (St. Paul)   612-624-9717

College of Continuing Education
20 Ruttan Hall (St. Paul)
 612-624-4000 or 1-800-234-6564

College of Design
12 McNeal Hall (St. Paul)   612-624-1717
107 Rapson Hall   612-626-3690

College of Education and Human Development
360 Education Sciences Building  612-625-3339

College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
190 Coffey Hall (St. Paul) 612-624-6768

College of Liberal Arts
49 Johnston Hall   612-625-2020

Carlson School of Management
Undergrad Program Office 612-624-3313

School of Nursing

College of Science and Engineering