A Guide to Seminary Graduation and Institute Recognition Exercises

A Guide to Seminary Graduation and Institute Recognition Exercises, 2014


Graduation and recognition exercises provide a way to honor the effort and accomplishment of seminary and institute of religion students who have met the required academic and worthiness standards. They also provide a great opportunity to encourage students to continue their religious education through further participation—such as seminary students being invited to enroll in institute classes. This guide will help stake and ward leaders plan for and hold an appropriate exercise.

Note: The terms ward, stake, bishop, and stake president in this guide refer also to branch, district, branch president, and district president.

General Guidelines

  • Under the direction of the Church Board of Education, full-time Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (S&I) representatives are assigned to each stake to assist with the work of S&I programs.

  • Students must meet required academic and worthiness standards in order to receive recognition (see “Awards Available to Students” below).

  • Seminary graduation and institute recognition exercises may be held separately or be combined into one exercise.

    • When seminary graduation is held separately, it should be done on the stake level.

    • When institute recognition is held separately, it may be done on the stake or multistake level.

  • A member of the presiding stake presidency should preside at the exercises.

  • The exercises should be planned by a member of the presiding stake presidency or an assigned high councilor, assisted by the S&I representative.

  • Bishops who have students from their unit being honored should plan to attend (or have a counselor attend).

  • A well-organized program should not exceed 90 minutes in length.

Awards Available to Students

To qualify for a certificate or diploma and participate in graduation or recognition exercises, students are required to meet the academic and worthiness standards. S&I representatives certify to stake presidents the students who have met the academic requirements. Bishops certify to stake presidents those who have met the worthiness requirements.

Seminary Diplomas and Certificates

To earn either of the following awards, students must meet the academic requirements specified and receive a worthiness clearance from their bishops:

  • Seminary Graduation Diploma. For students who have completed and received credit for four years of seminary.

  • Seminary Certificate of Achievement. For students who have completed and received credit for at least one full year of seminary but have completed fewer than four years of seminary by the end of the final year of secondary school. This certificate may also be awarded to those who graduate from school early if they have earned at least one full year of seminary credit.

Note: Students who earn the Seminary Certificate of Achievement, whether or not they are enrolled in seminary during their final year of secondary school, should be invited to participate in the graduation exercises and receive the certificate.

Institute Diplomas and Certificates

To earn any of the following awards, students must meet the academic requirements specified and receive a worthiness clearance from their bishops:

  • Institute of Religion Certificate of Achievement. For students who have completed eight credits in approved institute courses.

  • Institute of Religion Diploma. For students who have completed at least fourteen credits in approved institute courses.

  • Institute of Religion Certificate of Advanced Achievement. Awarded to students for each eight additional credits received beyond those earned for the Institute of Religion Diploma.

Other Awards

Certificate of Course Completion. This is an optional award that may be presented to seminary or institute students for each course completed. If these certificates are used, the stake president determines whether to award them at graduation or recognition exercises or at some other time (such as having teachers present them to students at the end of a course). This certificate does not require a worthiness clearance.

In the seminary program only, students with disabilities and others with special circumstances who have already been awarded a graduation diploma may continue to earn and receive this certificate annually for completing additional years of seminary.

Advance Preparation

Stake priesthood leaders should determine the date, time, and place of the exercises and coordinate plans with the S&I representative. The dates should be included on stake and ward calendars. Generally, the facility selected for the exercises should be Church-owned, with the capacity to accommodate those expected to attend. Any costs associated with using other facilities should be minimal and are to be paid by the stake. The facility to be used should be scheduled as soon as the date and place have been approved by the presiding stake presidency.

Prior to the exercises, a list of candidates who have met the academic requirements should be sent by the S&I representative to bishops for worthiness clearance.

For students who do not meet worthiness standards, priesthood leaders may hold the diplomas or certificates and award them once worthiness issues are resolved.

The S&I representative will provide diplomas, certificates, and covers for all students who have met the academic requirements. Stakes are responsible for other costs, including the printed program.

Planning the Exercises

The following recommendations may help in planning the exercises:

  • Involve students in the planning process and throughout the exercises.

  • Make speaking and musical presentation assignments well in advance.

  • Prepare printed programs for those who attend (the S&I representative may assist as requested). A member of the presiding stake presidency should approve the final program before it is printed.

Presenting Diplomas and Certificates to Students

Following are suggestions for presenting diplomas and certificates to students:

  • Arrange the diplomas and certificates beforehand in the order of their presentation.

  • Clearly introduce each student by name.

  • A member of the stake presidency may present the diplomas or certificates to the students.

  • Bishops (or counselors) may be present to congratulate the students from their units as they receive diplomas or certificates.

  • Seminary teachers may also be invited to participate in the presentation of diplomas and certificates.

Suggested Outline for the Printed Program

The following is a suggested outline for the exercises. A member of the presiding stake presidency usually conducts.

  • Prelude music

  • Welcome

  • Opening hymn

  • Invocation

  • Remarks on participating in the institute of religion program (for seminary exercises only)

  • Student speaker (one or more)

  • Musical presentation

  • Student speaker (one or more)

  • Remarks by the S&I representative

  • Remarks by a member of the presiding stake presidency

  • Awarding of diplomas and certificates of achievement

  • Closing hymn

  • Benediction

  • Postlude music

The following are suggestions of names to include in the printed program:

  • Area Presidency (if applicable)

  • Mission president (if applicable)

  • Stake presidencies

  • Bishoprics or branch presidencies

  • Church Board of Education*

  • Commissioner of the Church Educational System*

  • Administrator of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion*

  • Area director for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion*

  • Seminary principals or institute of religion directors or coordinators (as applicable)*

  • Seminary and institute of religion teachers (as applicable)*

  • Seminary and institute of religion student council members (as applicable)*

  • Each student receiving a diploma or certificate

For further information or clarification, contact the S&I representative or:

Seminaries and Institutes of Religion
Information Services Division
50 East North Temple Street, Floor 9
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0009
1-801-240-0540
SI-Information@ldschurch.org

© 2008, 2014 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA. English approval: 2/14. PD00000906

  •   *

    Available from the S&I representative