What you need to know
McMaster University issues graduates a digital version of their diploma anchored in the bitcoin blockchain. Students opt in to receive a digital diploma at no extra cost. The digital diploma is encoded and verifiable using MIT-developed blockcerts. The technology uses blockchain to protect and verify the diploma.
Need help? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
What is the blockchain?
Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger that cannot be altered. Once your digital diploma is issued, the data is compressed into a hash and published on the blockchain.
How is the digital diploma verified?
Blockchain cryptographically seals a record of the diploma when it’s created so that third parties can be absolutely certain that a record hasn’t been altered since being issued. The verification service validates the signature of the issuer and the certificate data; it also ensures that the certificate has not expired or been revoked. To verify your digital diploma, upload it to the verification portal found here.
Important to note:
- You will need to register and opt-in to receive a digital diploma. Our office will email graduating students to participate after convocation.
- By opting in, you acknowledge that you will receive a digital diploma from McMaster University and that the issuance will be permanently recorded in the bitcoin network.
What you need to do:
If you are a McMaster graduating student, you will receive an email invitation from the Registrar’s Office. You will be asked to complete the following steps before convocation to ensure you receive your digital diploma after convocation:
- You will receive an email from the Registrar’s Office with a link to install the Blockcerts Wallet on your phone.
- Once you’ve installed the app, click on “new user” and create a backup for your passphrase.
- Go back to the initial email and click the link to add McMaster as an issuer.
- After convocation, you will receive an email from the Registrar’s Office with a link to your digital diploma.
- Click on the link and you will automatically import the diploma into your Blockcerts Wallet. Be sure to back up the diploma file immediately after it has been imported.
- If you would like to share your digital diploma, this can be done directly from the app. Please note: for privacy, only the .json file option will work.
- McMaster email address is required to opt-in and receive your digital diploma. Once your McMaster email has expired the option to obtain the digital diploma will no longer be available. McMaster email addresses expire the January after your convocation ceremony.
To view and verify your digital diploma:
Upload the digital diploma to the verification portal. To learn more about Blockcerts, visit: blockcerts.org/guide
Additional questions? Please contact email@example.com
Digital diplomas FAQs
Will I still receive the paper copy of the diploma if I opt-in to receive the digital copy?
Yes – you will receive the paper/physical diploma regardless of whether you opt-in to receive a digital version of your diploma. In other words, if you opt-in to receive a digital copy, you will receive both the physical copy and the digital copy of your diploma.
I never received an email from McMaster to opt-in to receive a digital diploma.
Please make sure to check your graduation status. Your graduation status can be viewed in Mosaic > Student Center > View my Graduation Status.
I opted-in but never received a copy of my digital diploma.
If you have a financial hold on your account, you will not receive your digital diploma.
If you have a clear account and still did not receive a copy of your digital diploma, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
How much will it cost to receive a digital diploma?
There is no fee for a digital diploma.
What if I can’t remember my passphrase? Can I still receive my digital diploma?
If you lose your passphrase (your password used for your wallet), you will need to download the Blockcerts app again, obtain a new passphrase and contact the Registrar’s Office via email@example.com to have your digital diploma reissued.
How do I share my digital diploma with an employer?
Email file directly to an employer. This can be done directly from the app. Select ‘Share File’. Be sure to send a link to the digital diploma verification portal for the employer to verify.
Import the certificate into your Blockcerts Wallet on your phone, then open the certificate in your app and show it to the employer. Press ‘Verify’ and show the employer.
If I lose my phone, is my certificate also permanently lost?
Provided you still have your passphrase, you can reinstall the Blockcerts Wallet app on your new phone and access your files. Without the passphrase, you will not be able to prove the digital diploma belongs to you.
Is my diploma publicly available on the blockchain?
What is stored on the blockchain is a 1-way hash and is useful only for verification. No personal information is stored.
Is my diploma tamper-proof?
Yes, the blockchain is an immutable and distributed store of transactions, with each block building upon the last. When a certificate is issued, its data is compressed into a hash and logged on the blockchain. This generates a “receipt” that can always be checked at a later date. The verification service validates the signature of the issuer and the certificate data; it also ensures that the certificate status has not expired or been revoked.
How do I change my name on my digital diploma?
The current diploma anchored on the blockchain will be revoked and a new digital diploma will be issued after a Name Change Request form is completed.
I cleared my student account the day before convocation, why didn’t I receive my digital diploma?
Accounts Receivable and the Office of the Registrar require a cleared student account balance a minimum of two weeks prior to any convocation ceremony. McMaster will send out digital diplomas on the first of every month, so you can expect your digital diploma on the first of the next month.
Does my McMaster email expire after I graduate? Will I still need access to it?
Please note that a McMaster email address is required to opt in and receive your digital diploma. McMaster email addresses expire the January after your convocation ceremony. What can you do? Set up email forwarding. You use our system to specify a non-McMaster email address where all future emails sent to your current/student @mcmaster.ca email address are forwarded.
Can I request a PDF version of my diploma or a copy of higher resolution?
McMaster only issues cryptographically signed digital diplomas that can be verified through the McMaster Verification Portal. At the moment, those diplomas are issued as BlockCerts. We are working on a new system that will issue the diplomas using the W3C Verifiable Credential standard, and the new system may also offer a cryptographically signed PDF version of the Verifiable Credential. You can read more about our work at Digital Credentials Consortium.
We do not, however, intend to issue unsigned PDFs (or any unsigned electronic version) as that would make it easier to claim that a fraudulent diploma came from McMaster, since one might then reasonably expect to see an unsigned PDF issued by McMaster. McMaster will ONLY issue cryptographically verifiable digital diplomas verifiable through the McMaster Verification Service.
If you need to, you can put the json file/link through McMaster’s validator and save the image as a pdf. The file will be a high-resolution image of your diploma.
I’m having issues with the Blockcerts app.
We recommend waiting for the latest update on the App/Goole Play Store and updating it, instead of removing the app and re-installing.
If you have re-installed the app and haven’t backed up your app passphrase, here’s how to get back in:
- Open the app and select “new” user.
- Follow the instructions again to create and backup your passphrase.
- Add credentials by selecting Settings > Add Credential > Import from URL. The URL is provided to you in the second email, you’ll just need to copy and paste it.
- After successful import, both the issuer and credentials will be in your new wallet.
Additional questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Information for employers
McMaster graduates have the option to ‘Share a Link’ of their digital diploma from their Blockcerts Wallet. This option may represent a risk to their privacy. To continue to protect the privacy of McMaster graduates, please ask the graduate to email the actual diploma file. Employers can then upload the file into the verification portal to verify.
To view and verify a McMaster digital diploma:
To learn more about Blockcerts:
Please contact email@example.com
When sending your digital diploma to a third-party, you may wish to use this email template:
Attached, you will find a digital version of my <<degree>> from McMaster University.
This digital credential is the equivalent of a paper-based credential. My credential is cryptographically signed by McMaster University and anchored on the bitcoin blockchain. The use of the blockchain infrastructure dramatically improves protection against diploma fraud and ensures third parties (i.e., employers) that the credential is valid and hasn’t been altered since issued.
Have questions or need more information on digital diplomas? Contact the Office of the Registrar at McMaster University: