IUPUI Bulletins » Policies » Related Policies » Posthumous Degrees Posthumous Degrees

Sadly, students sometimes die prior to completing requirements for their degrees. In some cases, schools are interested in conferring the degree posthumously in recognition of the student’s work and as a source of solace to the student’s family.
Should a posthumous degree be conferred, a diploma is made available to the student’s family. A transcript is not produced.

Indiana University Posthumous Degrees

  • A candidate must have completed 85% of credit hour requirements and most of the requirements for the major.
  • Requests to award a posthumous degree should emanate from the dean’s office and must receive the approval of the campus vice chancellor for academic affairs, and the campus chancellor or provost.
  • Copies of the written request, plus the requisite approvals, should be sent to the student’s school recorder, the registrar, the campus alumni director and University Ceremonies.
  • Generally, posthumous degrees are conferred during Commencement season, but not at the main graduation ceremonies. The intent is to honor the student and to celebrate his or her accomplishments in a meaningful way while avoiding an awkward public event that may not be of comfort to the family.
  • Usually campuses have found that a small and dignified conferral in a private room before or after the main ceremony provides the right mix of celebration and condolence.  In one example, the degree was presented to the family in a private room before the start of Commencement. The President spoke and presented the diploma while the chancellor  greeted the family.  The family then attended the main ceremony.  Their student was listed in the program and, in this case, was mentioned by the chancellor in remarks during the ceremony.
  • Posthumous degree conferrals vary case by case. Thus, each campus will be responsible for working with the family to determine the time and place for the conferral and for providing pertinent information about the candidate to University Ceremonies.  An official in the University Ceremonies office will write a brief script. Generally, the president will preside, with the chancellor and appropriate dean in attendance.
  • The president, chancellor and dean should robe.
  • There may be occasions when the president is not able to attend. In those cases the chancellor or provost may confer the degree with advance approval of the president.

Source:  IU Board of Trustee Policy

Purdue University Posthumous Degrees

  • A candidate must have completed at least 85% of credit hour requirements and most of the requirements for the major
  • For awarding of a posthumous degree requiring a thesis, the following additional provisions will apply:
    • The student must have completed the research to the extent that a thesis or one or more articles in lieu of a thesis can be prepared.
    • The advisory committee must approve the research and results, including a thesis or article(s), and recommend the granting of the degree.

Purdue Baccalaureate, Associate, and Professional Degrees

  • A recommendation from the school faculty must be endorsed by the dean of the school.
  • The dean of the school and/or chancellor of the campus, as appropriate, must submit the recommendation to the Provost for transmittal to the President.  The names of the candidates approved by the President will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for final action.

Purdue Graduate Degrees

  • A recommendation must be submitted only after fulfillment of the requirements specified above to the head of the department (school) by the major processor.
  • The head of the department (school) must submit a request to the Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.  The head of the department may choose to recommend awarding a non-thesis instead of a thesis degree.
  • The Graduate Council must endorse a recommendation from the Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.
  • The endorsement must be submitted to the Provost for transmittal to the President.
  • The names of candidates approved by the President will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for final action.

Source:  Purdue Board of  Trustee Policy


If requested by the family, in cases where a student does not reach the milestone to be awarded a Posthumous Degree approved by the Board of Trustee policies, a Certificate of Attendance may be produced. 

The certificate should be written on IUPUI letterhead or produced with official IUPUI logo with the following language, signed by the Dean of the student’s school and the IUPUI Chancellor.  The certificate will be produced by the Office of the Registrar upon request from the academic unit and will read as follows:

  • Upon the recommendation of the Dean of <enter student’s school here>  and approval of the Chancellor of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, a posthumous commendation is hereby conferred on <STUDENT NAME HERE>  based on his/her attendance at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.  This commendation is effective <enter date here.>

The Certificate will be provided by the Registrar to the Dean of the School for appropriate delivery to the family.

Certificate of Attendance Added 10/6/2014

  • Approved by IFC Executive Committee
    Approved by APPC