Commencement morning for graduating Seniors begins with House breakfasts where Faculty Deans (previously known as House Masters) traditionally greet the Seniors. Shortly thereafter, the House Faculty Deans, joined by the Allston Burr Assistant Deans, lead the procession to the Chapel service in Memorial Church (8:00 AM). Immediately following, the Seniors line up in the Old Yard to join in the academic procession into Tercentenary Theatre for the Morning Exercises.
Commencement Day at Harvard is comprised of three components:
The Commencement Morning Exercises (9:45 AM)
The Morning Exercises, the official University Commencement ceremony, are held in the outdoor Tercentenary Theatre before an audience of 32,000 degree candidates from the College and Graduate and Professional Schools, family members, faculty, alumni/ae, and special guests of the University. Some families and guests may prefer to avoid the large crowds and view the ceremony on television monitors located at most of the undergraduate Houses and Graduate and Professional Schools. During the Morning Exercises, the three Commencement student speakers, representing each of the following categories (Undergraduate English, Undergraduate Latin, and Graduate English) deliver their speeches. The Deans of each school introduce their respective degree candidates for their specific degrees, which the president then confers. Towards the conclusion of the ceremony the graduating Seniors are asked to rise, and their degrees are conferred on them as a group by the president. Honorary Degrees are then conferred. Academic regalia (cap and gown) is required for all graduating degree candidates. Admission to the Morning Exercises is by ticket only. The sale of Commencement tickets is prohibited.
Diploma-Awarding Ceremonies at the Undergraduate Houses (Noon)
At the conclusion of the Morning Exercises, the President’s Division will process from the platform and down the center aisle of Tercentenary Theatre. Seniors and guests return to their respective Houses for luncheons and individual diploma-awarding ceremonies. Luncheons and diploma-awarding ceremonies at the Houses conclude by approximately 2:00 PM, after which members of the faculty, Seniors, their parents and guests are invited back to Tercentenary Theatre for the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.
The Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association (2:30 PM)
In the afternoon, the Harvard Alumni Association welcomes the graduates into the Harvard Alumni Association. The alumni/ae procession begins at 1:45 PM. The afternoon program includes alumni/ae presentations, the President’s Annual Report to the Alumni/ae, and the featured Commencement Speaker’s address. The afternoon program, also held in the outdoor Tercentenary Theatre, concludes at approximately 4:15 PM.
For more ticket details and information about related Commencement Week events for graduating seniors, please visit the Harvard Alumni Association site.