Graduate Commencement FAQs
The Commencement Ceremony
When will the 2020 Commencement ceremonies occur?
Based on federal and state guidance, we have made the determination that it will be necessary to postpone Commencement activities to a time in which we can safely convene as a community. We are committed to holding Commencement ceremonies and will ensure that our students and families have as much time to prepare as possible. In the time ahead, we will develop our plans and communicate updates as our planning for these rescheduled ceremonies advances.
What is the structure of the commencement ceremony? How long does it last?
In good weather, the ceremony is held on Healy Lawn. Graduates line up on the White-Gravenor Esplanade 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 in alphabetical order by program with the exception of the Graduate Marshal who processes first regardless of their program.
The Dean of the SFS conducts the ceremony, which includes the conferral of the honorary degree and the commencement address from the honoree. All graduates are then recognized, crossing the stage as their names are read. Graduates shake hands with their Program Director, the Dean, and are then hooded by the SFS Associate and Assistant Deans.
After all graduates have been recognized, President DeGioia offers concluding remarks, and then, following the Alma Mater and benediction, the recession of faculty and then graduates marks the end of the ceremony. The entire ceremony lasts approximately 2.5 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 about a week before Commencement Weekend.
Preparation for Commencement & Logistics
What if it rains?
In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will move to McDonough Gymnasium and be held twice: 5:00PM for SFS undergraduates 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 inclement weather graduate ceremony will last approximately 1.5 hours.
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.
Do we need tickets for the commencement ceremony? Where should we sit?
No tickets are required for the SFS commencement ceremony. Seating is open and first come, first served. Please allow our student ushers to guide you as the seating area for graduates is directly in front of the stage. 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.
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 Ms. Sara Ali via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 included in the commencement program reflect the academic record as of early May.
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 University Commencement website. 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 in the classrooms to which students are required to report in advance of the procession. Graduates will receive full instructions via email from their Program. It is imperative that students review all instructions before commencement day and report to assigned classrooms on time.
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. The hoods must be that of the MA, MS, or MGHD degree, respectively.
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.
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 to 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.
Degrees, Diplomas, and Honors
What degree do SFS graduates earn?
SFS Graduate students receive either an MA, MS, or MGHD degree depending on their program of study.
When do I pick up my diploma?
Diplomas for GSFS May graduates are distributed in the Healey Family Student Center immediately after the ceremony. Diplomas are also issued twice a year for students who complete their degree requirements prior to May.
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. The Georgetown diploma measures 17″ (43 cm) wide by 14″ (35.5 cm) high.
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 Student Accounts will not be open during Commencement Weekend, so accounts must be cleared in advance.