Graduate Commencement Details and Instructions

UPDATE: All January, May, and August 2020 graduates are invited to attend our December 2020 Commencement ceremonies.

Friday, December 11, 2020

7 p.m., Convocation Center
Doors will open to guests at 5 p.m. Guests should be seated no later than 6:30 p.m.

The following directions relate to the Graduate Commencement (master and doctoral degrees) ceremony only.



PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. These instructions (for doctoral and master degree candidates) have been prepared in order to make our graduate commencement ceremony a special occasion for all involved.


Time of assembly is 5:45 p.m. in the Convocation Center, South Conference Wing area. Please do NOT be late. Students must line up for the procession. Failure to be on time may result in a student being placed in a different seat, causing that person to be out of alphabetical order and/or out of the appropriate degree group. Late students will be placed at the end of the line.

You will NOT be returning to the graduate assembly area so please be sure to leave all personal belongings with family members or friends for safekeeping during the ceremony. We are not responsible for any lost or stolen property.


All students should arrive dressed in their approved regalia purchased through the University Bookstore or in official military dress uniform. You will need to carry your hood on your arm, as you will be handing it to the dean when it is your turn to be hooded during the ceremony. Caps should be worn with the short point in the front, tassel on left front. In addition to the approved regalia, students should wear appropriate business causal to business professional attire. 

Honors cords (for students who have earned a 3.95 or higher GPA in a master’s degree program by the end of last semester) can be obtained at the University Bookstore. Please note Pass/Fail programs DO NOT qualify for cords. 
Cal U Bookstore will be open in the Natali Student Center on Friday, December 11, 2020 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. the Bookstore shop will be open at both ceremonies in the Convocation Center.


There is a considerable amount of walking for the commencement processional at the Convocation Center. All other student access requests for the ceremony should be made to the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), as soon as possible. Contact OSD in person (Carter Hall-G35) or by phone, (724) 938-5781.


Students will form a single line in back of the color guard (flags) and faculty macebearer. Cal U staff members will serve as ushers directing the students. Candidates will be given instructions indicating their location in the line of march. Find your place in line and stay there. Once you have taken your place in the line of march, DO NOT CHANGE POSITION. 

You will be given a small card which will contain your name as it will be announced in the ceremony. Based on your place in line alphabetically, you may begin a new curriculum and/or degree program and you will be provided with additional cards that will need to be provided to the herald to announce at the ceremony. PLEASE REMEMBER TO TAKE YOUR CARD(S) TO THE CEREMONY SO THAT YOUR NAME (CURRICULUM AND DEGREE) ARE PROPERLY ANNOUNCED BY THE HERALD.


As you march in the processional to your seat, please keep in step, at least three steps behind the person in front of you, and keeps the lines straight.


Remain standing at your seat until after the National Anthem and Invocation. During the National Anthem, Invocation and the Alma Mater, men should remove their mortarboards.


When the dean presents the degree candidates for a program, all degree candidates should rise with their card in hand. Proceed as directed by the ushers to the ramp leading to the platform and wait at the top of the ramp. At the top of the ramp as you approach the podium, please provide the herald, who will announce each graduate, with your card(s). Once your name is announced, you will proceed towards the dean who will vest your academic hood. You should receive your diploma in your left hand leaving your right hand free to shake hands with President Jones. After receiving your diploma, return to your row and remain standing until instructed by the dean to take your seat.

  • A professional photographer (GradImages) will be taking photos of all graduates after they receive their diplomas and as they exit the stage. Members of the Cal U marketing staff will also be taking photographs throughout the ceremony for general marketing purposes.


After the President has conferred your degree and closed with the words, "I hereby confer the degree of (Master of ____, etc.) with all the rights, honors and privileges which throughout the world pertain to that degree," the President will then instruct you to be seated.


After the platform party has recessed and while the faculty is recessing out, you will follow the ushers' directions to recess out of the seating area.

Find answers to frequently asked questions here.