What is graduation?
When we say “graduation” at Bellevue College, we mean that you applied for graduation, you completed all requirements for your degree or certificate and you will be receiving a diploma.
Diploma vs Graduation On Your Transcript
In the U.S., a “diploma” is a paper document that confirms you completed all the requirements necessary to earn your degree or certificate. In many ways, the diploma is decorative (something you hang on your wall or show off to friends and family). However, It is not the most official document to prove graduation. It may take a few months to receive your diploma from Bellevue College.
In the U.S., a degree or certificate posted on your transcript is official proof of graduation. Your degree or certificate will post on your transcript 2-3 weeks after grades post for your graduating quarter. Your “graduating quarter” or “graduation quarter” is the quarter in which you will complete all final requirements for your degree or certificate.
If your degree is not posted on your transcript, you did not graduate. The best way to show proof of graduation to a university or employer is to order a copy of your official transcript. On your transcript, you will see that your degree was “conferred” (meaning officially granted to you by the college or university).
Applying for Graduation
To receive your diploma and have your degree or certificate posted on your transcript you must apply to graduate approximately 1-2 quarters before your graduating quarter. You will not automatically receive your degree or certificate, if you do not apply to graduate. To apply to graduate, visit Apply for Graduation on the Bellevue College website.
Graduation and the F-1 Visa
For immigration purposes, International Education considers your graduation quarter to be the quarter you completed all of your degree requirements. It does not matter if you apply to graduate or not. If you complete all the requirements for your degree or certificate in a quarter, that is the quarter you completed your program of study, for immigration purposes. You need to know the following:
If you complete your program of study, the F-1 visa allows a 60 day grace period. You must do one of the following before the 60th day of your grace period:
- Transfer your SEVIS record to a new school
- Apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training) if you complete an OPT-eligible program. View Work Options for F-1 Students for more information about OPT
- Re-apply to Bellevue College and get a new I-20 for a new program (this means you must complete a different program of study. Example: If you complete a transfer associates degree, you will not be given a new I-20 for another transfer associates degree. You must choose a new goal like a professional/technical program, a certificate or one of the BC Bachelors programs)
- Leave the U.S. by the end of your 60 day grace period.
Graduation and the F-1 visa can be a little complicated. Always discuss your options with your IE Advisor and plan ahead for your options after graduation.
Graduation RCL (Reduced Course Load)
In your graduation quarter, you may be eligible to reduce your credits and only take your final graduation requirements. For example, if you only need 1 or 2 classes to graduate, you may be approved to take only those classes. If you choose to apply for a Graduation RCL, you must be registered for at least 1 of your graduation requirements on campus, not online. Contact your IE Advisor for more information.
Last Updated October 27, 2021