Information for Graduating Students

Commencement Weekend is an exciting time for everyone to celebrate YOUR achievements. We encourage you to attend and participate in weekend traditions. We look forward to celebrating with you!

Download W&M Mobile and tap W&M Grad (available April 2020) to build a custom schedule, see event updates, learn about the #wmGrad slideshow, and find your instructions, parking, shuttle and other essential information.


Main Ceremony Instructions 

Graduates will pass through a security checkpoint before entering the stadium. Review the list of items that are prohibited at the ceremony venue.  


All undergraduate degree candidates participating in the main ceremony must wear the designated regalia, including cap, gown, hood, and tassel (positioned on right side of cap).

  • Walk Across Campus - Degree candidates gather on Saturday in the Wren Courtyard at 7:45 a.m. in full regalia for a final walk together to the Commencement Ceremony site at Zable Stadium.  For guests who want to watch the walk we ask that they plan accordingly - guests should be seated in the stadium no later than 8:20 a.m. Walk Across Campus (pdf).
  • Undergraduates who do not wish to participate in the walk should plan to be at the Daily Grind no later than 8:00 a.m.
  • Processional Line-up - Undergraduates will begin forming two lines once you enter the Wildflower refuge path (behind the Integrative Wellness Center). Half of the class will enter the stadium from the left (gate 1), half from the right (gate 6). Follow instructions of faculty marshals and staff. See diagram (pdf) for timeline and route. 
Masters and Law Candidates

All Masters and Law degree candidates participating in the main ceremony must wear the designated regalia.

  • Walk Across Campus - If you wish to participate in the Walk Across Campus, meet at the Wren Courtyard no later than 7:45 a.m. Graduate students who participate in the Walk Across Campus will proceed directly to Sadler, Tidewater Rooms (top floor) after crossing the Crim Dell Bridge. If you get caught in line waiting to cross the Crim Dell Bridge, you will need to avoid the bridge and proceed directly to Sadler, Tidewater Rooms in order to arrive by 8:00 a.m. for the line-up. 
  • Graduate students who do not wish to participate in the walk should plan to be Sadler, Tidewater no later than 8:00 a.m.
  • Processional Line-up - Grad students will form two lines in Tidewater. Follow instructions of faculty marshals and staff. At 8:00 a.m., grad students will process in 2 lines into Zable Stadium from the Sadler courtyard. See diagram for timeline and route (pdf).
Doctoral (PHD, EDD) Candidates

Doctoral candidates must wear the appropriate regalia to participate in the main ceremony.   Please wear a white shirt/blouse with black slacks/skirt under the robe.

  • Walk Across Campus - If you wish to participate in the Walk Across Campus, meet at the Wren Courtyard no later than 7:45 a.m. Situate yourself as close to the front of the line as possible if you wish to cross the Crim Dell Bridge. If you get caught in line waiting to cross the Crim Dell Bridge, you will need to avoid the bridge and proceed directly to Sadler, Chesapeake C (top floor) in order to arrive by 8:00 a.m. for the line-up.
  • Arrival Time - Arrive in Sadler, Chesapeake C (top floor) no later than 8:00 a.m.  It is crucial that you are not late so we can line you up in alphabetical order according to degree.
  • Check-in - It is imperative that you check-in with the staff overseeing doctoral candidate line-up. Since your name is part of the script and will be read by the Dean of your school we must confirm that you have arrived well in advance of the start of the Academic Procession.
  • Academic Procession- Faculty Marshals will form the academic procession with the doctoral candidates and will lead the procession at the appointed time. Doctoral candidates will sit in the front right student seating section. See diagram for timeline and route (pdf).
  • Walking across the stage - After the student speaker has completed his/her remarks (approximately 1.5 hours into the ceremony), it will be time for the doctoral candidates to be recognized by name and walk across the stage in the following order: (PhD - Arts & Sciences), (PhD - Marine Science), (PhD or EdD- Education).
  • Getting ready to walk on stage - Remain in alphabetical order at the foot of the stairs on the (audience's) right side of the stage - the first candidate will proceed to the top of the stairs.
  • As your Dean calls the first candidate's name, proceed to the center of the stage to receive a substitute diploma from the President. The next candidate moves to the top of the stairs while the previous candidate is walking center stage and then should begin walking toward the center immediately after the previous candidate has received the substitute diploma.
  • After receiving the substitute diploma, each candidate should continue across the stage, exit by the stairs on the (audience's) left side, and return to his/her seat. 
  • This process will be repeated for each group of doctoral recipients.

The following degree candidates are eligible to participate in the May 2019 Commencement ceremony:

Undergraduate Degrees

January 2020, May 2020, August 2020

Graduate Degrees - 2020 Eligibility:
  • Arts & Sciences: August 2019, January 2020, May 2020
  • Business: January 2020, May 2020, August 2020
  • Education: August 2019 (excluding MAED in CI), January 2020, May 2020, August 2020 (All Masters Candidates ONLY).  
  • Law: January 2020, May 2020, August 2020
  • Marine Science:  Please check with the VIMS graduate registrar.
January 2020 Graduates

We will send communication via your W&M email account only. If you use another email address, be sure to forward your W&M email to your new address. If you are returning for the May ceremony, notify your department in advance so they can include you in their ceremony.

Registration for Commencement and Guest Tickets for the Main Ceremony 

Graduating students who plan to dress in regalia and participate in the main ceremony are required to register for the ceremony and request guest tickets online.  The registration takes place during mid-February to mid-March.

Because the ceremony is scheduled to be held in Zable Stadium (larger seating capacity) the number of guest tickets is 6. Please note: in the case of inclement weather and the ceremony must move indoors to Kaplan Arena only 4 guest tickets may be used due to the smaller seating capacity.

Only graduating students who participate in the Commencement Ceremony may request guest tickets. 

Additional important info:

  • Registrar's Office: you must complete the graduation application in order to graduate. Only those who have completed this process will receive information about the Commencement Ceremony.  You must also complete the Commencement Ceremony Registration in order to attend the main ceremony.  Applying for graduation does not register you for the ceremony.
  • During the registration process undergraduate students will be asked to designate the department where they wish to receive their diploma.
  • Due to the size of our classes, we do not provide tickets to graduating students who do not participate in the main ceremony.
  • We cannot guarantee that students who do not follow the registration procedure and/or meet the appropriate deadlines will be eligible to receive guest tickets.
  • Tickets are free and may not be purchased or sold. Selling tickets is considered a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and may result in conduct charges leading to the inability to participate in Commencement and/or receive a diploma.
  • Live streaming of the ceremony is available for those who are unable to obtain tickets.
How do I get my tickets?

You must use the Commencement Registration form. Information regarding ticket distribution will be forthcoming.  We do not automatically mail tickets. 

If you forgot your tickets at home or have lost them prior to the ceremony - please go to Gate 5 at the stadium for assistance.

Global Studies and International Relations, Double & Interdisciplinary Majors
Global Studies and International Relations

Graduating students in GS/IR are recognized by name at a ceremony scheduled on Saturday after the main ceremony. No diplomas are presented. GS/IR majors will pick up their diplomas at Tyler Hall on Sunday morning. WHY? GS/IR is a particularly large interdisciplinary program. It was determined years ago that the departmental ceremony could not accommodate the number of students who were both Government majors and GS/IR majors. As a result, the GS/IR department developed its own unique ceremony on Saturday, complete with full academic regalia. Diplomas are not ready for presentation on Saturday due to the timing between the end of final exams and graduation. The diplomas are picked up on Sunday morning.

Undergraduate degree candidates with Double Majors

Undergraduates who have two majors may choose only one departmental ceremony to attend on Sunday. Double-majors must indicate their ceremony preference when they register for the Commencement ceremony. This information will be passed on to the Registrar's Office for diploma distribution - they will ensure your diploma is delivered to the appropriate ceremony for you to receive it.  

Undergraduate degree candidates in Interdisciplinary Programs

Students majoring in an interdisciplinary program (other than GS/IR) may choose any department’s ceremony to attend on Sunday to receive their diploma. Typically, it will be the program in which you have taken the most classes or have connected with the most. Students must indicate their departmental ceremony preference when they register for the main ceremony. This information will be passed on to the Registrar's Office for diploma distribution and they will ensure your diploma is delivered to the appropriate department for you to receive it. You should also notify the department of your intention to attend so they can include you in the program.


The W&M Bookstore is your contact for all regalia and graduation merchandise. The bookstore designates specific days when students may buy regalia and other graduation merchandise all at one time. 

Grad Fair Events

Law School Fair Event:  March 18 (10-4) at the Law School Building.
Bookstore Events: March 24th (11-6) and March 25th (10-4) at the W&M Bookstore (2nd floor)

Students can purchase cap and gowns, class rings, announcements, diploma frames and other graduation merchandise. There will be a raffle and prizes include Merchandise and Bookstore Gift Cards. Groups represented at Grad Fair: Jostens, Oak Hall, Framing Success, Senior Class Gift, Grad Images Photography, Churchill Frames, and a W&M Videographer! Event will include free refreshments.

Regalia Options and Pricing: (2020)

Undergraduates and Masters Degree Candidates

  • Regalia is available for purchase only there is no rental option.
  • You can purchase regalia by the set (cap, gown, hood and tassel). 
  • Items will be sold separately as well (inquire at the bookstore Info Desk).
  • Bachelor’s and Master’s regalia is generally available for purchase in the store starting in the spring. 
  • Bachelors and Masters (purchase only no rental option) Cap, Gown, Hood and Tassel $98.98

Doctoral Regalia - Rental Option

Doctoral Regalia - Custom Purchase Option

  • William and Mary Custom Gown Purchase: $779.00 + shipping
  • Deadline for ordering Custom Purchased Regalia is March 29, 2020
  • Measurements are needed for custom regalia and can be done at the Bookstore by appointment.
  • Doctoral purchase regalia will take from 4-6 weeks to ship.
Contact Marissa Risk by email or at 757-221-1669.

Deadline for ordering Custom and Faculty Rental Regalia is March 29th

When to Wear Regalia

Walk Across Campus, Main Commencement Ceremony, Departmental Diploma Ceremony
  • Active duty or retired members of the U.S. armed services may have the option to wear a military uniform appropriate for the occasion at commencement ceremonies.

  • Graduates participating in the main ceremony and departmental ceremonies must wear the College-approved regalia. Regalia consist of a robe, a cap, a tassel, and a hood with colors indicating the graduate's degree. 

  • The tassel is worn on the right side of the mortar board until the degree is awarded, at which time it is moved to the left.  Mortar boards may not have inappropriate messages attached.

  • Type of dress for underneath the robe is up to the graduating student however, it should be tasteful and appropriate. We suggest business or business casual attire.

Wear Caps/Gowns Only (no hoods)

Candlelight Ceremony (tassel on the right side of the mortar board)

No Regalia Worn

Baccalaureate Service, Saturday Departmental Receptions (unless otherwise noted by your department), Alumni Induction Ceremony

Hood Colors

Arts (White), Business (Drab-Tan), Science (Gold), Education Masters (Light Blue), Public Policy (Peacock Blue) (color is different than Education hood)


The University Registrar’s Office is responsible for preparing diplomas and ensuring they are delivered to the correct department to be distributed to graduates. Diplomas indicate the degree a student is receiving (e.g. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science), but not specific majors and minors. 

During the Commencement Ceremony registration process undergraduates are asked to designate the department where will receive their diploma. This information is then provided to the Registrar's office.  Once the Registrar's office receives the information they email all undergraduates giving them a deadline (usually around the last day to withdraw from classes) to make any changes.

The University Registrar’s Office will contact students who do not attend their departmental ceremony to arrange for delivery of their diploma. 

Helpful things to know about diplomas
  • Graduating students must fulfill all degree requirements in order to receive a diploma.
  • Diplomas are issued at departmental ceremonies, not at the main college ceremony.
  • Graduate A&S diplomas are mailed separately later in the summer.
  • Arts & Sciences and VIMS diplomas are in Latin (exception MPP).  Education, Business and Law are in English.
Honor Cords

William & Mary does not issue honor cords. Honors are determined by a graduating student’s final GPA. Due to the timing of final grades in May, grades cannot be certified until just before Commencement. As a result, it is not possible to ensure the distribution of cords to all eligible students in time for the main ceremony.

Departmental Honors

Departmental Honors are granted by individual departments and programs to recognize achievement in independent study and research projects. These student projects may receive their degree with "Honors," "High Honors," "Highest Honors," or "Honor in Research," depending on the department and the quality of the work.

Latin Honors

Latin Honors are awarded to undergraduates on their overall grade point average as follows:

3.50 - 3.64 cum laude
3.65 - 3.79 magna cum laude
3.80 or higher summa cum laude

Latin Honors are indicated on the diploma but not in the Commencement program because grades are not certified until after the program has gone to print.

Class Rings

Class rings may be purchased online at the Jostens website. If you have any questions about class rings, please contact Jostens at 800-854-7464.

Graduation Announcements
  • Generic William & Mary graduation announcements may be purchased at the Bookstore beginning March 24th. 
  • Personalized William & Mary graduation announcements imprinted with an individual's name and degree may be purchased online at the Jostens website.

If you have any questions about announcements, please contact the Bookstore at 757-221-1669 or Jostens at 800-854-7464.

Student Speaker Competition

Do you have something to say? Each year a graduating student is selected to deliver an address at the college-wide Commencement ceremony. Anyone undergraduate and graduate student participating in the May ceremony is eligible to apply for this honor. The only stipulation is that the topic must be a theme to which any graduate could relate. The competition is generally announced in December, with application materials due in January.

 How to Apply
  • Complete the online application. Deadlines for submission will be posted in the fall.
  • Late applications will not be accepted.
  • Please email [[studentaffairs]] or call 757-221-1236 if you have any questions.

The online application utilizes Captcha as a security measure. We STRONGLY recommend you save your work before submitting the application through ReCaptcha. If you incorrectly type your ReCaptcha phrase, you might lose the contents of your application and will need to start your application over.

Moving out 

Graduating seniors who live in on-campus housing must turn in their residence hall keys by 10:00 a.m. on the Monday after Commencement. If you have additional questions about move-out, speak to your RA or contact the Office of Residence Life at 757-221-4314.


Graduating students will automatically receive email announcements/instructions beginning in the fall and continuing to the days before Commencement. All emails are sent to the student's W&M account.

Graduation/Academic Requirements/Diplomas
Office of the University Registrar

[[wendy.urbano, Wendy Urbano]]

Commencement Schedule and General Information
Office of Student Affairs

[[commencement, Commencement Planning Team]]

Regalia and General Graduation Merchandise

W&M Bookstore