Doctoral Candidates

Senior Class Candlelight Ceremony (Friday)

The Candlelight Ceremony provides a time for celebration and reflection. Families are welcome to attend. In the event of light-to-moderate rain, the ceremony will go on as planned in the Wren Yard. In the event of severe weather (downpour, high winds, and/or thunder/lightning), the ceremony will be cancelled. Caps and gowns (but not hoods) should be worn to the Candlelight Ceremony. The tassel should be worn on the right side of the mortar board.

Walk Across Campus (Saturday)

Degree candidates who wish to participate should gather in front of the Wren Building  for a final walk together across campus. Class Officers will introduce the three Honorary Marshals who will lead the procession from the Wren Building to William & Mary Hall. Caps, gowns, and hoods should be worn for the Walk Across Campus. The tassel should be worn on the right side of the mortar board. Mortar boards may not have objects or inappropriate messages attached.

Main Commencement Ceremony (Saturday)

Candidates for  doctoral degrees should gather on the Concourse Level of William & Mary Hall 30 minutes before the start of the Academic Procession.   Enter the building through the doors that open directly into the Wightman Cup Room (toward the back of W&M Hall, on the side facing the Commons Dining Hall).  Once inside, staff members and signs will direct candidates to the appropriate staging area. Doctoral students will process in alphabetical order within their respective degree categories (PhD - Arts & Sciences, PhD - Marine Science, PhD - Education, EdD). Faculty Marshals will form the academic procession with the doctoral candidates and will lead the procession at the appointed time.

At the point in the ceremony when doctoral degrees are conferred, the candidates for each degree will be asked to rise and the degree will be conferred on each group separately by the President of the university. After the degree has been conferred, the candidates for that degree will then be recognized individually as follows:

  • Candidates will proceed to the foot of the stairs on the (audience's) right-hand side of the stage, remaining in alphabetical order. The first candidate will proceed to the top of the stairs.
  • As the Dean calls the first candidate's name, that candidate should proceed to the center of the stage to receive a substitute diploma from the President. The next candidate should move to the top of the stairs while the previous candidate is walking to the center.
  • After receiving the substitute diploma from the President, each candidate should continue across the stage, exit by the stairs on the (audience's) left side, and return to his/her seat.  The next candidate should begin walking toward the center immediately after the previous candidate has received the substitute diploma.
  • This process will be repeated for each group of doctoral recipients.