Skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between graduation and commencement?

Both graduation and commencement symbolize the completion of your certificate or degree. Graduation requires an application to start the process of getting your diploma. Commencement is a ceremony where you celebrate your completed program dressed in graduation robes.

When does Commencement take place?

The 2018 commencement ceremony will take place on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.  

Where will the ceremony be held?

Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ  85003

Who is eligible to participate?

Students who complete a degree or certificate program at Rio Salado College (RSC) prior to March 1, 2018 are eligible to participate. Students who have NOT completed their degree or certificate program are also encouraged to participate if they expect to complete their program by the end of the next fall semester.

Applications must be submitted with the application fee by March 1, 2018 to participate in the 2018 commencement ceremony.

Can I graduate without participating in the commencement ceremony?

You are not required to participate in the commencement ceremony in order to receive your certificate or degree.

Why should I participate?

Participating in the commencement ceremony gives you an opportunity to reflect on the challenges you've overcome during your time as a student, and it allows your family and friends to recognize and celebrate your accomplishments. Walking the stage to receive your degree or certificate creates a memory of this important milestone as you take the next step toward your future.

What is the deadline to apply?

Students wishing to participate in the 2018 RSC commencement ceremony should apply before March 1, 2018.

Where can I submit my application?

Applications and payments will be accepted through the mail or in person by Student Enrollment Services at RSC Tempe.

Do I need a ticket?

Tickets are not required for this event for your guests. 

How do I request special accommodations?

The Comerica Theater is an ADA compliant facility, and interpreters will be available for the hearing-impaired. To request accommodation, please contact Christina Bolyard, Manager of Disability Resources and Services at (480) 517-8562.

What should I wear to the ceremony?

Students who participate in the ceremony MUST wear the official royal blue cap, gown and 2018 tassel. Appropriate attire should be worn under the cap and gown. Please note: cap, gown and tassels will NOT be available at the Comerica Theater. In order to participate in the ceremony, students must pick up their attire at RSC Tempe beginning Tuesday, April 10 to Noon on the day of commencement (Wednesday, May 9, 2018).

How do I get my cap and gown?

Students may pick up their graduation attire at RSC Tempe beginning Tuesday, April 10 to Noon on the day of commencement (Wednesday, May 9, 2018).

How much does it cost to participate and what is included?

The commencement fee of $25 pays for the student's attire (cap, gown and tassel) and diploma cover. Please contact the Cashier's Office

I am a Phi Theta Kappa member. Where do I order the gold stole and tassel?

To purchase a gold stole and tassel to wear the night of commencement, please order directly from Recognition Services at Phi Theta Kappa International.

What should I expect to happen the night of the event?

Graduating students will be asked to check-in beginning at 5:30 p.m. Check-in is located on the east side of Comerica Theatre. Students will be given a postcard with their name and any honors they've received written on it. At 7 p.m., Rio Salado College President will lead a procession of administrators and faculty. The College President, two guest speakers and a student speaker will address the 2018 graduating class. Graduating students will be asked to stand one row at a time and approach the stage. Graduates will hand their postcard with their name and honors to the announcer. The announcer will introduce the student as he or she crosses the stage. A photographer will take a photo of each graduate as they shake hands with the College President. A second photo will be taken as the graduate exits the stage. The student will then return to his or her seat. After all graduates have been recognized, the College President will introduce the graduating class of 2018 and lead the recessional exiting the convention hall. Once all of the graduates have exited the hall, the audience will be dismissed. It is best to arrange a meeting spot with your family prior to the ceremony as the post-ceremony crowd can be difficult to navigate.

How do I order photographs?

Visit to view proofs of the photos taken during the ceremony. Photos can be purchased directly from GradImages by calling 800-261-2576. Please email inquiries to

Why do some people have different color cords?

Graduates earn the right to wear cords by maintaining a certain grade point average. A white cord is worn by students who graduate with Distinction (GPA 3.5-3.69); a red cord indicates the student is graduating with High Distinction (GPA 3.7 - 3.89); and a gold cord indicates a student who is graduating with Highest Distinction (GPA 3.9-4.0). Students who wear the gold stole and tassel are members of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.

Is parking available?

Parking is available at the 305 Garage located at 305 W. Washington Street. Cash, credit and debit cards are accepted.

Where should graduates and guests meet following graduation?

Graduates and guests can meet across Washington Street south of the Comerica Theatre at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Building Plaza.

Attend Commencement Ceremony