A Guide to Seminary and Institute Graduation

A Guide to Seminary and Institute Graduation, 2015


Graduation exercises provide a way to recognize the effort and accomplishments of seminary and institute students. They also provide an opportunity to encourage the youth to continue their religious education. This guide will help stake and ward leaders plan for and hold appropriate graduation exercises.

General Guidelines

  • Seminary graduation exercises should be held on a stake level.

  • Institute graduation exercises may be held on a stake or multistake level. They may also be combined with seminary exercises if desired. Stake leaders determine which option best meets their circumstances. If it is determined that institute graduation exercises will not be held, diplomas may be presented to students by their bishops in a meeting or individually.

  • A member of the stake presidency presides at the graduation exercises.

  • The graduation exercises should be planned by a member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor, assisted by the assigned Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (S&I) representative.

  • The recommended length of a graduation exercise is about an hour.

Qualifying for Awards

Students qualify for awards by (1) meeting the attendance requirement, (2) completing assigned course readings, (3) passing learning assessments, and (4) receiving an ecclesiastical endorsement. Makeup work is available for students who have not met the first three requirements.

By signing the diploma or certificate, the S&I representative certifies that the student has met the religious education requirements. The signature of the stake president certifies that the student has received the required ecclesiastical endorsement.

Ecclesiastical Endorsement

The bishop or one of his counselors may complete the ecclesiastical endorsements as part of regularly scheduled youth and young adult interviews. Interviews should be conducted early enough to allow students time to work with the bishop to resolve any worthiness issues.

The bishop or one of his counselors endorses the student’s worthiness using the guidelines for youth interviews (see Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 7.1.7).

Seminary: The endorsement is completed annually for any seminary student who desires to receive a Certificate of Completion or Graduation Diploma.

Institute: The endorsement is completed before graduation for any institute student who desires to receive an Institute Diploma.

To maintain confidentiality, information from bishops concerning student worthiness should only be given to the stake president and not to S&I personnel. If a bishop requests additional time beyond graduation to resolve worthiness issues, the diploma or certificate provided by S&I should be given to the bishop to be awarded privately.

Students who are not members of the Church may be cleared for worthiness by the bishop responsible for the area where they live or by the clergy of their own faith.

Accommodations for Seminary Students with Special Needs

Students with disabilities and those with other special circumstances who have already been awarded a Graduation Diploma may continue to earn and receive Certificates of Attendance or Certificates of Completion annually for additional years of seminary until they turn 21. They are then encouraged to attend institute.

Seminary Certificates and Diploma

All seminary students are eligible to receive one of the following awards each year.

Type

Awarded to:

Requirements

Attendance

Reading

Assessment

Endorsement

Certificate of Attendance

Students who meet the seminary attendance requirement for the current course of study but did not meet the additional requirements.

Yes

No

No

No

Certificate of Completion

Students who meet all of the requirements for the current course of study.

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Graduation Diploma

Students who earn Certificates of Completion for all four courses of study: Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, New Testament, and Old Testament. (Note: Students receiving a diploma are also awarded a Certificate of Completion for their final year in seminary.)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Institute Certificates and Diploma

Type

Awarded to:

Ecclesiastical Endorsement Required

Certificate of Attendance

Students who meet the attendance requirement for an institute course but did not meet the additional requirements. These certificates may be awarded in class at the end of a term, at an institute-sponsored activity, or at graduation exercises.

No

Certificate of Course Completion

Students who have completed an institute course in a given term. These certificates may be awarded in class at the end of a term, at an institute-sponsored activity, or at graduation exercises.

No

Institute Diploma

Students who have completed at least 14 credits, including all of the required courses. Diplomas may be awarded at stake or multistake graduation exercises or presented to students by their bishops in a meeting or individually.

Yes

Note: Campus Institute of Religion programs may choose to hold a recognition activity at the end of a term to honor students. Diplomas are not awarded at these events. If held, these events should be conducted in such a way as to complement and not to compete with stakes who choose to hold graduation exercises.

Advance Preparation for Graduation Exercises

Stake priesthood leaders should determine the date, time, and place of the graduation exercises and coordinate their plans with the S&I representative. The dates of the graduation exercises should then be included on stake and ward calendars.

Where possible, graduation exercises should be held in Church-owned facilities that have the capacity to accommodate the number of people 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 stake presidency.

In order to ensure that students have enough time to complete all of the credit requirements and to allow programs adequate time to process the awards, graduation exercises should be held after the school year has concluded. (If a stake wishes to hold the exercises before the end of the school year, the S&I representative will provide a tentative list of the candidate awards but will not provide the actual awards until the school year has ended.)

Prior to the exercises the S&I representative will send a Bishop’s Graduation Report listing candidates who have met the requirements. Priesthood leaders will need to verify worthiness before awarding diplomas and seminary Certificates of Completion.

The S&I representative will prepare the diplomas and certificates for the stake president to certify and sign. Diploma covers will also be provided by S&I. Stakes are responsible for other costs, including the printed programs.

Planning the Graduation Exercises

  • Invite all students, regardless of year in school or age, to attend the graduation exercises. Parents, family members, and other youth should also be invited and encouraged to attend.

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

  • Assign speakers and musical presentations well in advance.

  • Encourage student speakers to talk about the blessings that have come into their lives by participating in seminary or institute and to encourage all youth to take full advantage of these programs.

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

Presenting Diplomas and Certificates to Students

  • Diplomas and seminary Certificates of Completion should be arranged beforehand in the order of their presentation.

  • A member of the stake presidency may award the diplomas and certificates to the students.

  • Bishops or counselors may be invited to congratulate the students from their units as they receive diplomas and certificates.

  • Seminary and institute teachers may also be invited to participate in the presentation.

  • Priesthood leaders may adjust the following recommendations according to local needs.

Seminary Awards

Type

Recommended Presentation

Certificate of Attendance

Invite the students who have earned a Certificate of Attendance, regardless of their year in seminary, to stand and be recognized. These certificates are given to the students by their bishops at a later time.

Certificate of Completion for students who are not in their final year of seminary

Invite the students who have not completed their final year of seminary and who have earned a Certificate of Completion to stand and be recognized. These certificates are given to the students by their bishops at a later time.

Certificate of Completion and Graduation Diploma for students who have completed their final year of seminary

Invite the students who have completed their final year of seminary and who have earned a Certificate of Completion or a Graduation Diploma to walk across the stand, receive their certificates and diplomas, and be recognized.

Institute Awards

Type

Recommended Presentation

Institute Diploma

Invite students who have earned an Institute Diploma to walk across the stand, receive their diplomas, and be recognized.

Note: Certificates of Attendance and Certificates of Course Completion are presented to the student by the institute program at the end of the term. Depending on local needs, they may be awarded in class at the end of a term, at an institute-sponsored activity, or at graduation exercises. If it is determined that they should be presented at the graduation exercise, students receiving these awards could be invited to stand and be recognized but generally should not be invited to walk across the stand.

Suggested Outline for the Printed Program

  • Prelude music

  • Welcome

  • Opening hymn

  • Invocation

  • Remarks on participating in the seminary or institute of religion program

  • Student speaker (one or more)

  • Musical presentation

  • Student speaker (one or more)

  • Brief remarks by the S&I representative

  • Remarks by a member of the presiding stake presidency

  • Recognition of students receiving Certificates of Attendance and Certificates of Completion

  • Awarding of Certificates of Completion (seminary students who completed their final year), Certificates of Course Completion (institute), and seminary and institute diplomas

  • Closing hymn

  • Benediction

  • Postlude music

    The following are suggestions of names to include in the printed program:
  • Area Presidency (as applicable)

  • Mission president (as 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, institute directors, or coordinators (as applicable)*

  • Seminary or institute teachers (as applicable)*

  • Seminary or institute student council members (as applicable)*

  • Each student receiving a diploma or certificate

For further information, contact your S&I representative, or contact the Information Services Division directly:

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

© 2008, 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. English approval: 9/15. A Guide to Seminary and Institute Graduation. English. PD00000906 000

Show References

  1.   *

    The S&I representative will provide these names.