The Commencement Ceremony Anchor

The Commencement Ceremony

When is commencement?

Georgetown’s 2023 Commencement Weekend events will take place from Thursday, May 18 through Sunday, May 21. The School of Foreign Service combined undergraduate and graduate ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 20, at 5:00PM. If there is severe inclement weather, the SFS ceremony will be split into two in McDonough Gymnasium with the undergraduate ceremony beginning at 5:00PM and the graduate ceremony starting at 7:30 PM. A full list of events, to include our Tropaia ceremonies, can be found on the University Commencement website.

What is the structure of the commencement ceremony? How long does it last?

In fair weather, the ceremony is held on Healy Lawn. Graduates line up in Red Square and process to the lawn before the official start time, with the procession typically beginning 30 minutes prior to the ceremony.

The student procession is followed by the faculty procession, and the ceremony begins as soon as faculty take their places on stage. Graduates are seated by program and in alphabetical order, with the exception of the Class Marshals, who process first.

The SFS Dean, Joel Hellman, conducts the ceremony, which includes a commencement address from an honored guest. All graduates are then recognized, crossing the stage as their names are read. Graduates shake hands with the Dean and relevant Program Director and are then hooded by the SFS Associate and Assistant Deans.

After all graduates have been recognized, President DeGioia confers the degree and offers concluding remarks. Following the Alma Mater and benediction, the recession of faculty and then graduates marks the end of the ceremony. The entire ceremony lasts approximately 2 hours, if held on Healy Lawn in fair weather.

Who is the SFS commencement speaker?

The Office of Communications announces the names of commencement speakers for all Georgetown ceremonies early in May.

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Preparation for Commencement and Logistics Anchor

Preparation for Commencement and Logistics

What if it rains?

The decision about whether to hold the ceremony on the lawn or in the gymnasium will be posted three hours in advance on the University Commencement website. Families may also call our inclement weather hotline at +1-202-687-7669.

In the event of severe inclement weather, the ceremony will move to McDonough Gymnasium and be split into two: 5:00PM for SFS undergraduate students and 7:30PM for SFS graduate students. Students will report to the Thompson Intercollegiate Athletic Center, where they will line up for the procession directly into McDonough. The severe inclement weather undergraduate ceremony will last approximately 1.5 hours. 

Tickets will be required for guests if the ceremonies are held inside. Each undergraduate student will receive seven guest tickets. Graduate students will receive five guest tickets. Information about ticket distribution will be communicated to graduating students through the Marching Order website, where they register for the commencement ceremonies.


Do we need tickets for the commencement ceremony? Where should we sit?

Tickets are not required for the SFS commencement ceremony if held as planned outside on Healy Lawn. Seating is open and is first come, first served. Rows directly in front of the stage will be reserved for graduating students. If you are seated there, you will be asked by ushers to relocate. We also ask that guests depart the seating area immediately after the ceremony to allow guests for the following ceremony to take their seats. Families and friends should plan to meet their graduates on Copley Lawn after they have recessed. If the ceremony is moved indoors because of severe inclement weather, tickets will be required. 

What are the public health guidelines for Commencement events?

To protect the health and safety of the Georgetown University community and our guests, all attendees at indoor Commencement events are expected to be up to date on COVID-19 vaccination or have a medical or religious exemption, though guests will not need to show proof of vaccination or exemption during Commencement Weekend. If you are unvaccinated, please take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to attending any indoor Commencement event and stay home if you receive a positive test result.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of your vaccination status, please stay home and do not attend Commencement events in person.

Many Commencement events will be livestreamed. Information on where to tune in will be shared on Georgetown’s website and social media channels prior to these events.

We will continue to monitor public health conditions on our campuses, as well as COVID-19 community levels in DC and nationally, which will inform any updates to Georgetown’s public health guidelines.

Someone in my family requires special accommodation seating. What should I do? 

Special accommodation seating is available by request for family members who need sign language interpretation or have mobility issues. Guests with mobility issues may be assisted by one companion. All special accommodation requests must be made by May 1 (a good faith effort will be made to fulfill requests made after this date). All requests should be directed to Handicap-accessible shuttle service will also be running throughout Commencement Weekend from parking lots to both Healy Hall (bus stop at Leavey) and McDonough Gymnasium. 

Please note: it can be hot in Washington in late May, and there is no shade on the lawn. Guests who are susceptible to the heat may wish to view the ceremony indoors at one of the remote viewing locations; it is also streamed live on the university website.

Will pictures be taken at the commencement ceremony?

Yes, photos are taken of all SFS graduates at the ceremony. More information can be found on the University Commencement website.

What information is in the commencement program?

The names of degree recipients from the previous summer and fall semesters and the current spring semester are printed in the Commencement Program. The names and honors included in the commencement program reflect the academic record as of early May.

A delay in reporting grades for the Spring semester can sometimes mean that the final honors status can be different from that printed in the program. While we encourage the submission of grades in a timely manner, there can be unforeseen delays. We apologize for the incompatibility of the print deadline and the grade reporting deadline. 

Can family and friends at home see the ceremony? Will there be a recording they can watch at a later date?

Yes, the ceremony will be broadcast live via webcast on the Georgetown University Facebook page. The ceremony is also recorded and posted on the same webpage for viewing at a later date.

Is there a rehearsal for graduation? How do I know where to go and what to do?

There is no rehearsal for the commencement ceremony, but important details will be reviewed with students when they report to their designated classrooms on the day of the ceremony and in advance of the procession. Undergraduate seniors and GSFS graduates will receive full instructions from the SFS Dean’s Office. It is imperative that students review all instructions before commencement day and report to their assigned classrooms on time and preferably a few minutes early.

Where do I get my cap, gown and hood? How do I wear it?

Caps, gowns and hoods are required for graduation and available to purchase at the Georgetown University Bookstore. Students who purchased a gown during New Student Convocation may elect to purchase only the cap, tassel and hood. Hoods should be carried on the graduate’s left arm with the bunting toward the wrist. The tassel on the cap is to be worn on the left side of the left eye. Students who receive Summa Cum Laude Latin Honors will also be instructed to pick up their honor cord from the SFS Dean’s Office a few days prior to the ceremony. For GSFS graduates, MSFS students will need to purchase the graduation regalia with the gold hood, whereas MA-ARST, MA-ASST, MA-ERES, MA-GEST, MA-LAST, MA-SEST, and MGHD students will need to purchase the graduation regalia with the white hood.

Where can I get invitations and announcements?

Personalized graduation announcements may be ordered through the Georgetown University Commencement Website.

Where can visitors park on campus? 

During Commencement Weekend, we urge visitors to avoid driving and parking on or near campus if at all possible. A limited number of parking spaces are available in the Southwest Garage for guests. Please visit the University Commencement Website for more information on parking options and alternatives.

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Degrees, Diplomas and Honors Anchor

Degrees, Diplomas and Honors

When do I pick up my diploma?

Jostens will be mailing diplomas directly to graduates shortly after graduation.  To ensure your diploma arrives on time and at your preferred address please complete the following steps:


  • The address provided to Jostens by the University Registrar will be the permanent address you have on file in MyAccess.  
    • Please log into MyAccess to review your permanent address
    • Please ensure the listed permanent address includes all applicable apartment numbers, suites, etc.


  • If your diploma will be shipped outside of the continental United States, a phone number local to your permanent address will be required.  Please ensure your permanent address in MyAccess includes this phone number. 
    • For example, even though your DC cell number might work in Canada, Jostens will not accept it.  You must supply a Canadian phone number for them to process shipping to you at that location.

Please direct all questions regarding diplomas or updates to MyAccess to

What is the size of the diploma? Where can I buy a frame for it? How should I display it?

The Georgetown diploma measures 17 in. (43 cm.) wide by 14 in. (35.5 cm.) high. Diploma frames are available at the Georgetown University Bookstore. Please note that diplomas are printed in Latin. All graduates will receive a rolled translation with a blue and gray ribbon as they cross the stage during the Commencement ceremony. Make sure to keep the ribbon to display it as an element in framing the diploma. 

When will my transcript reflect my degree?

Degrees are posted to official transcripts in May for spring graduates, in January for fall graduates and in September for summer graduates. Transcripts can be requested from the Office of the Registrar.

What happens if I owe the university money? Can I still receive my diploma?

Though the degree is conferred, University policy dictates that any unpaid balance must be settled before a diploma or transcript can be released. All outstanding balances (i.e. library fines, room damage charges, etc.) must be paid before Commencement. The Office of Billing and Payment Services will not be open during Commencement Weekend, so accounts must be cleared in advance.

SFS Undergraduates

What degree do SFS undergraduates earn?

SFS undergraduates earn a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) degree or a Bachelor of Science in Business and Global Affairs (BSBGA) degree. 

How can an undergraduate student know if they are eligible to graduate?

Students are eligible to graduate with the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) Degree when they have successfully completed a minimum of 120 credits and all SFS core and major courses. All students must satisfactorily complete the foreign language proficiency requirement, as well as the rest of the University curriculum requirements. Questions about degree completion should be directed to the student’s curricular dean.

How are graduation honors determined?

Honors are conferred based on the student’s cumulative grade-point average (GPA), and minimum marks are determined according to percentiles of the previous year’s graduating class. Please see the Graduation and Semester Honors section of the Undergraduate Bulletin for more information.

Does SFS give Latin honors cords for Commencement?

SFS distributes cords to students graduating summa cum laude prior to the Tropaia ceremony. Students qualifying for this honor will receive information from the SFS Dean’s Office on when and where to pick up. Students who qualify for Latin Honors will be recognized as a group during the SFS Tropaia ceremony.

Are majors, minors, certificates and honors noted on the diploma?

Diplomas include only name, date of graduation, degree earned and Latin honors (e.g., summa cum laude) as appropriate. Majors, minors, certificates and departmental honors are not noted on the diploma but do appear on the official transcript.

What is the undergraduate Tropaia ceremony?

Tropaia is the SFS undergraduate annual awards ceremony, held the Friday of Commencement Weekend in Gaston Hall. Student honorees will receive formal invitations, and a reception open to all graduating seniors and their guests will follow. 

Is there a reception for all graduating seniors and their guests? 

Yes, all graduating senior in the undergraduate programs and their guests are invited to attend the reception following the Tropaia ceremony, to take place on Friday, May 19, at 4:00pm in the ICC Galleria.

What is Phi Beta Kappa? Do I need to apply?

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and largest academic honors society. Generally, the top 10 percent of the SFS graduating class is invited to join. Interested students need not apply, as all eligible candidates are invited in early-April. The PBK initiation ceremony is held on the Thursday evening preceding Commencement Weekend. 

Graduate Students 

Am I participating in the Friday, May 19, 2023 GSAS Commencement ceremony? 

No. SFS, McCourt, SCS and MSB hold separate school-specific ceremonies for their graduating students. The Graduate School Commencement ceremony is for Master’s and PhDs outside of these schools, Biomedical Graduate Education (Master’s and PhDs), and GSAS Interdisciplinary Programs (Master’s and PhDs). Graduate SFS programs will only participate in the SFS Commencement ceremony.  

Which Commencement regalia should I order? 

MSFS will order the regalia with the gold hooding as a Master of Science. The other SFS graduate programs will order the regalia with the white hooding as Master of Arts or Master of Global Human Development. 

How can a graduate student know if they are eligible to graduate?

Students should contact their graduate program academic affairs point of contact for confirmation or questions.

What ceremonies will GSFS graduates participate in? 

GSFS graduates will only participate in the SFS commencement on Saturday, May 20, 2023, and any program-specific ceremonies. Please see your SFS graduate program for more information. 


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August Graduation Anchor

August Graduation

When do I walk? Can I participate in the May commencement ceremony? Will my name be listed in the commencement program?

SFS holds one commencement ceremony each year, in May. August graduates may participate in this May ceremony. August graduates participating in the May commencement ceremony preceding their graduation date cross the stage and have their names called with May graduates. Names for August graduates however are not printed in the Commencement book until the following year’s May ceremony. 

Can an August SFS undergraduate graduating student participate in Senior Week?

Senior Week is managed by the Senior Class Committee. August graduates may participate in the Senior Week that precedes or follows their graduation date, but may only participate once.

How do I assure an employer or graduate school that I have graduated? 

The SFS Undergraduate Dean’s Office conducts the formal review of August degree candidates in September each year. At that time, the Registrar’s Office is authorized to post the degrees on the official Georgetown transcript. If a certification letter indicating the conferral of the degree is needed, please contact the SFS Dean’s Office.

For GSFS graduates, please contact your SFS graduate program advisor for inquiries.


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December Graduation Anchor

December Graduation

When do I walk? Can I participate in the May commencement ceremony? Will my name be listed in the commencement program?

The SFS holds one commencement ceremony each year, in May. December candidates participating in the May commencement ceremony following their graduation date cross the stage and have their names read along with May graduates. Their names are also formally recorded in the May Commencement book following their December graduation. 

Is there a ceremony in December?

No, but there is a reception for December graduates and their families. A formal invitation will be emailed to degree candidates in mid-fall. 

Do I need to do anything special to attend the May commencement? 

No. December graduates are expected to participate in the May Commencement ceremony unless we are notified otherwise.

How do I assure an employer or graduate school that I have graduated?

The SFS Undergraduate Dean’s Office conducts the formal review of December degree candidates in January each year. At this time, the Registrar’s Office is authorized to post the degrees on the official Georgetown transcript. If a certification letter indicating the conferral of the degree is needed, please contact the SFS Dean’s Office.


For GSFS graduates, please contact your SFS graduate program advisor for inquiries.

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