Posthumous Degrees

A degree may be awarded for a deceased student upon recommendation of the faculty advisor or college academic advising coordinator, the department chairperson, academic dean, and the vice provost for academic programs, with final approval by the University provost.

A student who passes away while enrolled and pursing a degree may be considered for a “posthumous degree” based on the following criteria:

  • Holds good academic and disciplinary standing
  • Completed 85 percent of all degree requirements for an undergraduate or graduate degree

In cases where it is determined the student did not meet the above requirements for a degree, a “posthumous certificate” may be awarded, if appropriate. The posthumous certificate recognizes a student’s significant progress toward the attainment of a degree. This may be a certificate of attendance, participation, or completion of some core element of the student’s program.
Posthumous Award Procedures

  1. Family or friends of the deceased contact the office of the vice provost for academic programs or the registrar to recommend award of a posthumous degree. The request must be submitted in writing within two semesters following the student’s death and must be accompanied by a copy of the student’s death notification (i.e., death certificate, newspaper article, funeral service program).
  2. The vice provost for academic programs reviews the student’s record with the registrar to determine if the student has completed at least 85 percent of the degree program, is currently registered, and is in good academic and disciplinary standing.
  3. On behalf of the student, the vice provost for academic programs completes an application for graduation form and sends the application, the student death notification and request to the registrar for the permanent record.
  4. The registrar sends the student transcript, a listing of current registered courses, and program sheet (audit) to the department chairperson and advising coordinator.
  5. The department chairperson reviews the student records and, in consultation with the advising coordinator, determines if the student qualifies for the awarding of a posthumous degree or certificate.
  6. The department chairperson and advising coordinator forward a completed evaluation and their recommendation to their academic dean.
  7. The dean reviews the evaluation, makes a recommendation and forwards the information to the vice provost for academic programs.
  8. The vice provost for academic programs, in consultation with the registrar, reviews the materials, and seeks final approval from the University provost.
  9. The registrar notifies the individual who made the original request.

If the posthumous degree is approved:

  • Deceased student’s name will be listed in the next commencement program parenthetically noted “Posthumous.” Posthumous degrees will not be backdated.
  • On the diploma, the words, “awarded posthumously” will be printed.
  • On the transcript, it will be noted that it is a posthumous degree.

The deceased student’s family will be contacted to determine how they wish to receive the diploma/certificate. The registrar, vice provost for academic programs, or department chairperson, will either present the diploma/certificate personally to the family or the diploma will be mailed to the family with an appropriate letter from the president or her designee.

In addition, it is suggested that during the commencement ceremony that the president somehow acknowledges:

  • The loss of each student OR
  • All deceased students at the onset of the ceremony without announcing each student’s name.