I submitted my Master's thesis last December (2020), and it just been accepted (so in 2021), and the university will probably take many (maybe even 6) months before they actually give me the diploma (bureaucracy).

On CVs and scholarship applications, what date should I be writing? I am somewhat wary of writing 2018-2021 as it makes it look like I took 3 years, yet I want to be rigourous. What is the accepted norm for what constitutes the "end" of the degree. This is especially true if I need to write months, as putting the final diploma date would add many months.

Also, in the meanwhile until the university formally gives me the diploma, can I still say I finished the Master's as all my courses are complete and thesis accepted?

  • Do you literally mean get the paper in the mail when you say "give me the diploma"? Feb 17, 2021 at 0:06
  • My question is : should the date I put on my CV for the end of my Master's be 1. the date of the paper in the mail 2. the date i submitted my thesis or 3. the date the thesis was accepted.
    – tjeremie
    Feb 17, 2021 at 0:07
  • Probably none of those. When your thesis is accepted (congrats) by the dept, it probably will be a few more days until the university confers you your degree. That's not the same as getting the paper in the mail Feb 17, 2021 at 0:09
  • Ask the responsible office at the university for your official date. In the US it might be called the Registrar.
    – Buffy
    Feb 17, 2021 at 0:56
  • In our university, degrees where conferred only at the end of the term.
    – GEdgar
    Feb 17, 2021 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


For most institutions, the degree date is the day that the university actually hands out the degrees, not the date that you fulfill the requirements for the degree.

At all the universities that I am familiar with, this happens only at fixed times of year, and your degree will be on the first such date after you fulfill the requirements and submit the necessary paperwork. For example, my alma mater has three degree dates per year: people on the standard schedule graduate in June, and off-cycle graduation is offered in September and February.

I'm sure there are institutions that do not work this way, but in the US at least it seems to be fairly standard to have fixed degree dates.

In either case, you should be able to readily find this information on the webpage of your university's registrar's office or equivalent, like the pages I linked above.

  • I wrote in my answer some schools might award them whenever because at least for the master's I can get during my PhD, it is awarded in the next calendar month after you submit the paperwork (I just checked). But otherwise, the rigidity makes sense, because classes are only ever finished on a schedule. Feb 17, 2021 at 1:35
  • This is very country-specific. In my country, the degree date will be the date on which the last degree requirement is fulfilled. The day when the degree is handed out is irrelevant.
    – user116675
    Feb 17, 2021 at 11:16

My (unofficial) transcript shows this (redacted and emphasis added):

-------------- DEGREE EARNED MM/DD/YY --------------




UNIV:150.0 TRANSFER: 37.0 EXTENSION: 15.0 GPA: 3.83

Check your transcript (I've heard some universities don't do unofficial transcripts, so you may have to pay) for the date you should use.

As I mentioned in the comment, this is probably a few days to a week after your thesis was accepted by your department. However, some universities only confer degrees on regular dates (i.e. the first of the month) or even once a semester.

You should write whatever date your transcript says, which will be in 2021. The date the paper arrives doesn't matter at all (mine took three months).

That said, if your university is one that won't actually give you the degree until June (since your thesis was accepted in February), it would be fine to note on your resume (if you feel it matters):

MA, Basket Weaving

Feb., 2021 (requirements met; conferred June 2021)

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