Answers to the most frequently asked questions about Commencement.
Preparing for Commencement
What is the difference between graduation and commencement?
Graduation signifies that a candidate has satisfied all of the necessary criteria of his or her chosen program and that their respective academic department has certified his or her degree.
Commencement is the ceremony that recognizes the degree-seeking candidates.
How will I know if I have met all of the necessary requirements to graduate?
Students should meet with their respective Department Chairpersons to ensure that they have met their degree requirements.
Can I participate in Commencement if I am missing a few credits?
If you will not complete your degree requirements by the spring semester but wish to participate in the May Commencement ceremony, please review information for "August Graduates" on the Registrar's Graduation page.
How do I declare my intention to graduate?
You will receive an email invitation to complete the online application to graduate.
If you have questions, visit the Registrar's Graduation page.
How and when will I know if I am eligible to participate in Commencement?
After the Registrar's Office approves your online application to graduate, you will receive an email notifying you that you can participate in Commencement.
Where and when can graduating students get their caps and gowns?
Information is available at caps & gowns.
What is the deadline for residential students who are graduating to check out of the Residence Halls?
Housing will be available to all seniors currently living in the residence halls, seniors who purchase a Senior Week ticket, and non-seniors who sign up to work as Commencement staff.
All students must be properly checked out of their residence halls no later than 10am on Sunday, May 14.
The Commencement Ceremonies
What time should graduates arrive on Commencement Day and where should they go?
Please check the schedule for dates, times, and locations.
What time should family and friends arrive? How long does the Commencement ceremony last?
Check the schedule for details.
Is there a limit to the number of family members and friends that a student can invite to Commencement?
For the Graduate ceremony at the Xfinity Center, all graduates and their guests will have seating under roof covering: there are no limits.
For the Undergraduate ceremony at the Xfinity Center, all graduates and 5 ticketed guests will have seating under roof covering. Unlimited seating will be available in the non-roof covered seating area. In case of rain, those not under roof coverage will want to bring rain gear—but no umbrellas, please.
For the UMass Law ceremony at the Campus Center Bailey Auditorium, all graduates and their guests will have seating.
We also offer the option to watch the ceremonies online.
What security arrangements are in place for the ceremonies?
For security purposes, only items placed in clear plastic bags will be permitted into the graduation ceremonies. Students will be given one clear bag with their caps and gowns. Additional bags will be available in parking lots and at check points during the ceremonies. No purses or wrapped packages, please.
Will there be special parking and seating for individuals with disabilities or health concerns?
Graduate and undergraduate ceremonies at the Xfinity Center: signage at the entrance of the XFinity Center will direct vehicles for people with handicaps to special parking.
UMass Law ceremony: If you or a guest has a disability, please contact the Parking Office: firstname.lastname@example.org or 508.999.8121.
What happens in the event of rain?
For ceremonies at the Xfinity Center:
- For the Graduate ceremony, all graduates and their guests will have seating under roof covering.
- For the Undergraduate ceremony, all graduates and 6 guests will have seating under roof covering. Additionally, an unlimited number of extra tickets may be requested for the seating that extends past the roof coverage. In case of rain, only those not under roof coverage will want to bring rain gear.
UMass Law’s ceremony will be held in the Campus Center’s Bailey Auditorium, rain or shine.
Who are the Commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients?
Commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients will be announced in spring 2017.