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When you apply for a professional license, a higher education program, or even some jobs that require a degree, the application will likely ask for the date your degree was conferred.
If you have your diploma, you can check the date on it and put it into the form. If, on the other hand, you’ve completed all of your coursework but haven’t yet received your diploma, the answer to this question can be a little trickier.
For those who are applying for a job and haven’t completed all of your courses or received a diploma, we have an article covering that.
In this article, you’ll learn what those forms are looking for, how to fill them out truthfully, and how your degree is actually conferred.
What Does “Date Conferred” Mean?
The date your degree was conferred is the date you officially graduated from your degree program – this is the date that applications often ask for.
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the date of your graduation ceremony. Usually, the school needs to do an audit to make sure you meet all your study program requirements before it can legally award you your degree.
These requirements include passing all of your classes on your degree plan sheet, finishing all of your clinical or other fieldwork hours, and paying all of your tuition and fees.
The date your degree is conferred also isn’t the day you receive your diploma in the mail, as institutions mail these out and can’t guarantee when you’ll get them.
The actual date usually comes without much recognition, as it is the date the school completes your audit and marks on your transcript that your degree has been awarded.
You can find this date by looking up your official transcript. Many schools provide online access to this, but you can also call the registrar’s office to check your status.
If you can look at your transcript, it will state if your degree is still “in progress,” “completed,” or “conferred” (or “awarded”). If it says “conferred” or “awarded,” then congratulations, you have a degree.
Degree Completed vs. Degree Conferred
You might see some applications asking for and records listing a “degree completed” date. This is different from your “degree conferred” date.
The day you complete your degree is the day you meet all of your degree program’s academic requirements.
For some programs, this may be as soon as you take your final tests, but others will require that you also have finished any required clinical or other on-the-job training hours before you can officially say you’ve completed your degree.
Your degree conferral date, on the other hand, comes after you’ve checked these boxes, paid any remaining balances, and passed the audit the registrar performs on your records.
Most organizations won’t ask for your degree completion date if you have your conferral date. Still, some will ask for both because they have requirements for how far apart the two can be without an additional confirmation letter from the school.
This is especially true for applications for medical and other professional licenses. They need to make sure everyone they license is above-board and fully completed their degree programs, so they do some extra checking.
Others may want to know this date if you check the “degree completed but not conferred” box on the application. Keep reading to find out more about this.
What Does Degree Completed but not Conferred Mean?
If you’ve met all of your academic requirements and just haven’t received your diploma yet, you should mark “Degree completed but not conferred” on your application.
This lets the organization know that while you don’t technically have a diploma yet, you’ve passed all of your classes to get it and are just waiting on the school to complete the process.
Organizations understand that the degree conferral process can take a little while, so they will usually accept this and let you move forward in the application process. They’ll just want to see that you did finish your program and will receive your degree down the road. However, they will reserve the right to change your status as an applicant or employee if you don’t receive it for some reason.
Do not provide your completion date as your conferral date. Many organizations will call the school to make sure you actually do have your degree or are on track to receive it, and if they see that something doesn’t add up, it won’t reflect well on you.
There’s a reason there’s an option for “Degree completed but not conferred,” so don’t be afraid to check that box.
How Long Does It Take for a Degree to Be Conferred?
It may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to have your degree conferred upon you. The length of the degree conferral process is different for everyone, as it’s more involved than you might think, and the registrar has to go through it for each individual student.
Some of these steps are up to you, but others take place behind the scenes. Here’s what this process generally looks like:
You complete your classes. That feeling of freedom that washes over you as you walk out of your last final exam, while momentous, is only the first step in the degree conferral process.
Your professor grades your exam and turns in final grades to the registrar, which are usually required a few days after you take your final. The registrar then adds these to your transcript and checks to make sure you passed all of your classes.
You turn in paperwork to the registrar. This paperwork’s specifics can vary, but there is usually some kind of application to graduate or other forms you need to file. This often also includes paying any outstanding balances, which is required before your degree can be conferred.
Sometimes students are required to do this before they take their finals, speeding the process along.
You walk in your graduation ceremony. Congratulations! You’ve made it through all the late-night cramming and never-ending to-do lists, and now it’s time to celebrate.
Enjoy all the pomp and circumstance, but when you open up that shiny diploma cover, don’t be surprised that it’s empty. There are still a few more steps that the school needs to complete until they can officially award you your degree.
The registrar will conduct an audit. After you say your goodbyes and move out, the registrar will be hard at work going through each student’s records to make sure they are, in fact, eligible to receive their diplomas.
Usually, they begin this process earlier in the semester, but they still need to double-check at the end to make sure you’ve turned in everything you need to and finished all of your required classes and clinical hours.
This is why the length of the process varies from student to student, depending on where they are on the list and how much the registrar needs to check for them. Organizations know this, which is why they usually provide the option to check the “degree completed but not conferred” box.
They’ll mail your diploma. Once you pass your audit, the registrar will mark that your degree is “awarded” or “conferred” on your official transcript and put your diploma in the mail.
There is no way of guaranteeing when your diploma will arrive, so this is another reason for an inconsistent timeline. Be sure to start checking your transcript regularly a few weeks after graduation. Organizations that want a degree conferral date don’t need your diploma; they just need to know that you earned it.
If you notice that all of your friends are receiving their diplomas and you haven’t, look at your student accounts or call the registrar to make sure everything is in order. It may be that you have an extra fee to pay that you didn’t know about or that you need to complete an additional form.
It’s essential that you take the initiative to investigate because it can take the registrar a while to contact you about this with so many students to process. They also might just assume that you’ll be checking and not bother to let you know that there’s a hold on your account.
When Can I Say I Have a Degree?
If you have pursued your degree the traditional way through taking classes, you can legally say you have a degree when your transcript says that your degree has been “awarded” or “conferred,” when you receive your diploma, or when the registrar provides some other type of confirmation.
You also may legally say this when you receive an honorary degree. These degrees are awarded to people who didn’t take classes but who the college or university decided earned it. These are just as legal as any other degree, as they’re usually given to those who have accomplished something significant in the field of the degree they’re awarded.
However, you cannot legally say that you have a degree when you finish your finals or walk across the stage at graduation, although you should go ahead and celebrate like you do.
Conferred Graduation Date FAQ
What does conferral mean? Conferral means that the school has officially and legally awarded you an undergraduate or graduate degree. You have fully met the academic and administrative requirements necessary to be awarded a degree, and the school has performed an audit to ensure that this is the case.
How do I know when my degree is conferred? You will know that your degree is conferred when your official academic transcript states either “Awarded” or “Conferred.” This information is usually found at the very top of your transcript.
Remember that “Completed” does not mean the same thing as conferred — the school still has to run an audit to confirm you meet all of the academic and administrative requirements for conferral.
Is conferral date the same as graduation date? No, conferral date is not the same as graduation date. You may graduate when you’ve completed all of your classes, but before you’ve paid all your fees and/or completed all the administrative tasks you need to complete.
While it is technically possible that your degree is conferred on the same day that you graduate, it would be completely coincidental.
Is a degree conferred or awarded? You can say a degree was conferred or awarded and it means the same thing. The difference in word choice depends on your school, but you may use the words interchangeably when describing the status of your degree.
How long does it take to get a degree conferred? Degree conferral can take between 2 weeks and a few months from the completion of your degree program. However, unless you have reason to believe that an audit will bring your degree’s status into question, you can still list your graduation date on your resume.
Just be sure to accurately respond to any questions that ask you to specify whether your degree is completed but not yet conferred.
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