The University recognizes the sense of loss that faculty feel when a student dies. One means of expressing their gratitude for an advanced student's life and work and/or sympathy for the surviving family and friends is to nominate that student for a posthumous degree. The following protocol is designed to allow such an award.

Please note: the nomination is the first step and does not necessarily mean that the degree will be awarded. Surviving family and friends should not be notified of the nomination until the Provost has approved the proposal.


  • In recognition that faculty recommend academic actions, the nomination to award a posthumous degree must come from at least one faculty member who is familiar enough with the nominees work to vouch for its equivalency with the desired degree.
  • An undergraduate nominee must have substantially completed the requirements for the degree. 
    • If some coursework remains incomplete, the nominator may make a professional judgment regarding work, community, or other curricular or extracurricular experiences that appropriately substitute for any remaining academic work.
  • A graduate nominee must have substantially completed the requirements for the degree, including capstone or research projects such as a thesis or dissertation.
    • To award a posthumous doctoral degree, the student must have been admitted to candidacy and made tangible progress toward completion of approved research. For example, the nominee should have produced a dissertation in at least draft form or some other product that was acceptable to the student's advisory committee as indicating the expected mastery of material and independent capability in research.
    • For the award of a posthumous master's degree, the nominee should have completed or been in the final semester of all course work, including thesis or other capstone experience hours.
  • The Provost may consider cases that do not meet the above criteria when extraordinary circumstances prevail.


In the name of the nominee, the faculty sponsor(s) submit(s) the normal application for graduation to the program advisor, who analyzes transcripts for graduation. 

The sponsor attaches a statement of justification to the application.

  • The advisor completes the programs approval for graduation and submits it to the Provost or his/her designee for final approval.
  • The Provost or designee notifies the Registrar to post the degree and print the diploma.
  • The Registrar informs the program advisor when the process is complete and sends the diploma to the appropriate address off campus or office on campus.

Venue for awarding the degree

  • Appropriate venues for awarding the degree include a memorial service or a special meeting with family and friends.
  • The university considers it inappropriate to award the degree at venues where other students are celebrating their own accomplishments, such as a commencement exercise, or those settings held for grieving survivors such as a funeral service.