Certificates: Planning and Completion

The word “graduation” can have many meanings. You will not find the word used in the flow of certificate completion procedures. Instead, we talk about "commencement," the ceremony held in May that celebrates your certificate completion. It is not actually when you get your certificate. You will receive your certificate when:

  • All certificate requirements have been met, including:
  • All coursework approved for your plan of study has been completed with a passing grade
  • All necessary Humphrey and Graduate School documents have been submitted and approved
  • Your University account balance is zero

There are several steps to planning and completing your certificate. We are here to help you navigate every step of the way. It is easier to tackle by following the steps listed below.

Step 1: Submit forms

Fill out your Program Planning Worksheet and Graduate Degree Plan, meet with your faculty advisor and other appropriate staff for signatures, then submit these forms to Humphrey Student Services (Room 280) by the due date below. Review the Instructions for Completing Graduate Degree Plan. The due date is based on when you are planning to complete your degree.

  • Spring completion: December 5
  • Summer completion: December 5
  • Fall completion: April 15

Faculty advisor and Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) signatures are required before submission. The current Directors of Graduate Studies are:

  • Nonprofit Management: Melissa Stone
  • Policy Issues on Work and Pay: Morris Kleiner
  • Public Affairs Leadership: Kevin Gerdes
  • Early Childhood Policy: Judy Temple

Step 2: Review Approved Degree Plan

  • You will receive email notification of approval from the Graduate Student Services and Progress office.
  • Make sure the Graduate Degree Plan matches your current registration. If your registration has changed from the courses listed on your approved Degree Plan, complete Step 4 immediately.


If your registration has changed from the courses listed on your approved Degree Plan, immediately submit a Petition to Amend Degree Plan to Humphrey Student Services (Room 280). The Graduate School will not award your degree until all courses listed on your Degree Program have been completed or amended via this petition.

Important Notes:

  • Faculty advisor signature is required, so plan ahead.
  • Do not obtain the signature of the major field Director of Graduate Studies. Submit form to Humphrey Student Services to obtain that signature.

If the change is related to courses in a minor, do obtain the signature of the minor field Director of Graduate Studies before submitting to Student Services.

Step 4: Request & Submit Graduation Packet

Follow this link to request a Graduation Packet. If you apply before the window, you will need to reapply. If you miss the deadline you will have to register (and pay) for something in the following semester so mark your calendars. Submission window and deadlines:

  • Last course completed in spring semester? Submit April 2–May 1
  • Last course completed in summer semester? Submit July 2–August 1
  • Last course completed in fall semester? Submit November 2–December 1

You will receive the packet by email with two very important components:

  • Master's Final Report Form: Download; do not obtain any signatures; simply print it and submit it to Humphrey Room 280 as is by the deadline (see below).
  • Apply to Graduate: Follow the link provided in the Graduation Packet to submit an online application to graduate. You absolutely must — no exceptions — have this completed by the first day of the month your degree will be granted.

Step 5: Stay Registered

At the time your degree is awarded you must be in “active status,” which means you must be registered for that semester. Being registered for spring semester will maintain active status through August 30; that is, if you are registered for spring semester, you do not have to register for summer to have your degree granted in June, July, or August.

There are serious financial consequences if you do not maintain your active status and want to have your degree awarded at a later date. Registration in Grad999 to maintain "active status" is not allowed.

Step 6: Notice of Degree Requirements

The Graduate School will send an email saying one of two things:

  • Outstanding Degree Requirements — what courses still need to have grades posted or forms submitted OR
  • Clearance Notification Letter — everything is completely finished

Sometimes this email arrives right before commencement, so don't panic. Just check the letter for any change in registration.

  • You will receive the Outstanding Degree Requirements notice. Make sure your records agree with everything.
  • This letter will list any coursework on approved Degree Plan that still needs a grade posted, as well as any forms that still need to be submitted.
  • Note: The letter may list Final Report Form even if you have submitted it to HHH 280 because it won't be sent to the Graduate School until all HHH degree requirements have been met (final paper submission, internship, etc.).
Student Services

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