Harvard College Seniors & Guests
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.
Schedule and Tickets
Commencement Week Schedule and Ticketing Information
For up-to-date information regarding Commencement week shedule for seniors and their guests as well as entry requirements and ticketing information, please visit Harvard College Alumni page for Seniors:
Frequently Asked Questions
WHERE DO I GET MY COMMENCEMENT WEEK TICKETS?
Tickets for Commencement Week (except where otherwise noted) can be picked up at Senior Desk, located at the Harvard Alumni Association (124 Mount Auburn Street, 6th Floor), weekdays from 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., during the 2.5 weeks leading up to Commencement Day. HUID required.
You must complete the online senior exit survey, titled “Senior Survey,” before you pick up your Commencement Week tickets. Graduating seniors will receive an email containing a URL to access the survey, which opens in early May. The survey may take up to 24 hours to process, so please wait until the next business day before picking up your tickets.
Each senior must pick up their own tickets in person. No tickets (allotted, free, or purchased) will be available onsite at Commencement Week events. Please make an effort to pick up your tickets early; you can expect a considerable wait during the last days of Senior Desk. Additional tickets for some events are available on a first-come, first-served basis and will run out. Please bring your HUID, as only you can pick up your Commencement Week tickets—no exceptions.
WHAT IS THE ATTIRE FOR COMMENCEMENT WEEK ACTIVITIES?
Business casual attire is appropriate for all Commencement Week activities.
AT WHICH EVENTS IS REGALIA REQUIRED?
Academic regalia (cap and gown) is required for the Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) Literary Exercises (for PBK seniors), Baccalaureate Procession and Service, and the Class of 2019 photograph on Tuesday, May 22, and for the Commencement Morning Exercises and the Diploma Presentation ceremonies on Thursday, May 24.
WHERE DO GRADUATING SENIORS GET THEIR ACADEMIC REGALIA?
Cap and gown rentals are available for pickup starting in mid-May leading up to Commencement, in the textbook department on the third floor of the Coop, located on Palmer Street, during normal store hours (Monday to Saturday: 9:00 a.m. 9:00 p.m.; Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.). No reservations or pre-orders are required ahead of time. The Coop is also open early on Commencement Day for regalia pickup (beginning at 6:15 a.m. on Thursday, May 24).
ARE THERE SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES?
Harvard University encourages people with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities, including Senior Week and Commencement Week. If you anticipate needing accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please call the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) at 617-496-7001 or email email@example.com.
Accessible seating and other accommodations for individuals with disabilities are available in Tercentenary Theatre on Commencement Day. Accessible seating tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and will be distributed until all tickets are gone. In order to accommodate as many family members and friends with disabilities as possible in the reserved seating area, individuals with an accessible seating ticket will be permitted to have one companion accompany them into the accessible seating section. The companion must also have an accessible seating ticket. Harvard will make every effort to accommodate parents and guests without accessible seating tickets on Commencement Day; however, accessible seating is limited and advanced planning is strongly encouraged.
Graduating seniors should submit a request for accessible seating tickets as soon as possible. Requests should be submitted at alumni.harvard.edu/accessibleseating prior to late April. Confirmation of requested tickets and instructions for claiming them will be emailed thereafter.
The accessible seating section is located adjacent to University Hall and will be clearly marked with the International Symbol of Access. Wheelchair runner assistance from the entrance gate to the guest’s seat in Tercentenary Theatre is provided as a courtesy on Commencement Day.
Guests are encouraged to arrive early on Commencement Day to avoid some of the crowding that usually takes place after 8:30 a.m. Gates open at 6:45 a.m. First aid stations and wheelchair-accessible restrooms will be located in Sever, Weld, and Thayer Halls. For information about accessible parking, transportation, or other resources: please visit commencement.harvard.edu/guests-disabilities.
WHAT IF FAMILY OR FRIENDS FROM OVERSEAS REQUIRE A VISA?
Family and friends visiting the U.S. will most likely need to apply for a tourist visa. The process may vary widely by region and country. This process could take a long time to complete, so please start working on this sooner rather than later. For more information about the specifics of this process, please visit hio.harvard.edu/b-visa. If family members or friends require invitation letters for this process, students should reach out directly to their Allston Burr Assistant Dean, whose contact information can be found at osl.fas.harvard.edu/house-deans.
IS PARKING AVAILABLE DURING COMMENCEMENT WEEK?
For the Senior Class Family Reception, complimentary parking is available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage on a first-come, first-served basis. On Class Day and Commencement Day, complimentary parking is available at the Allston campus on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit the Harvard Transportation & Parking office at transportation.harvard.edu/parking.
DO CHILDREN NEED TICKETS TO EVENTS?
All children—except for infants under the age of one—require tickets for all events except for the Class Day Picnic. For the Class Day Picnic and House Luncheon, a ticket is required for each meal.
WILL COMMENCEMENT WEEK ACTIVITIES BE AVAILABLE FOR ONLINE VIEWING?
The Class Day Exercises, Morning Exercises, and Afternoon Program will be streamed online at http://www.harvard.edu/live-stream.
HOW DO SENIORS ORDER THE CLASS PHOTOGRAPH?
Orders can be placed online. Students can also pick up an order form at the time the photograph is taken.
WHERE CAN I GET GRADUATION-RELATED MERCHANDISE?
The Coop offers personalized graduation announcements and the largest selection of diploma frames with the Harvard Seal, class rings, and Class of 2019 gifts. The Coop hosts a Grad Fair in early April that offers great discounts on diploma frames and class rings. Students are encouraged to stay connected and visit the Coop in person or online. For Grad Fair details visit coopgradfair.eventbrite.com.
The Harvard Shop provides personalized graduation announcements. For more information and to order, visit balfour.com/harvard or call 800-433-0296. Contact Anthony Kenny, managing director of The Harvard Shop, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. The Harvard Shop also offers rings. To view rings for sale, visit The Harvard Shop at 65 Mount Auburn Street from 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday through Thursday of Commencement Week. Balfour representatives will be on hand to help order rings and to offer free sizing services.
WHEN DO SENIORS HAVE TO VACATE THEIR ROOMS?
All seniors must be out of their rooms by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday, May 31 . No exceptions.