Planning Your Visit

Don't leave home without it! Here's how you can prepare for University Commencement:

  • Ticket saved, loaded, and ready to scan.
  • Pre-filled, reusable water bottle.
  • Prepare for inclement weather.
  • Fully charged phone (and maybe even an external battery).
  • Pack light! Large bags are not permitted.
  • Feeling sick? Stay home and tune in virtually.

*As we gather to celebrate our graduating students, we strongly recommend ceremony participants and guests refrain from bringing balloons, sky lanterns, and other celebratory embellishments to Commencement events. We hope to work together as a community to reduce waste, avoid potential tree entanglements, and provide an unobstructed and positive experience for all our graduates and guests.

There are a variety of options for off-campus accommodations during Commencement Week. Discounted rates may be available to Columbia University students and guests at some local hotels upon inquiry. Neighborhood hotels do fill up well in advance, so it is recommended that you make your reservation as soon as possible. There are many other hotels in New York City, many of which are only a short subway ride from the University.

Please see Parking & Directions for more information.

Parking in Morningside Heights on University Commencement morning is challenging and on-campus parking is not available to the general public during Commencement Week. Public transportation, such as a subway, bus, or taxi, is recommended. If you must drive, please leave plenty of time to find parking and allow time for walking to campus. There are only a few parking garages near campus that fill up quickly during Commencement Week and cannot be counted on for convenient parking.

A shuttle bus is available to take guests with disabilities and their families to designated campus gates near the accessible seating area on Commencement Day. These passengers can be dropped off anywhere around the perimeter of the Morningside campus and will be shuttled to the designated gate. There is no designated parking for guests with disabilities.

Finally, city parking rules will be in full effect during Commencement Week; please take note of meters and other parking regulations. Many streets surrounding campus are blocked off very early on the morning of University Commencement. If you park in a location near campus the night before University Commencement, please diligently check for any signage indicating street closures. Failure to notice these signs may result in your car being towed.

Dedicated baby changing stations will be available in the following locations from Friday, May 10:

For guests that require a lactation room:

For graduates that require a lactation room during Class Day lineups from Friday, May 10, through Wednesday, May 15:

For graduates that require a lactation room during University Commencement on Wednesday, May 15, four locations are available on upper campus. Please pre-arrange swipe or keycode access by contacting the Work Life office at [email protected] or (212) 854-8019 by Wednesday, May 8, 2024. For more details on these locations, please visit the Work Life website.

Need help finding these locations? Several campus maps are available to help you navigate and plan your visit to campus.

If you are inviting family or friends, the International Students and Scholars Office advise students to write their own letter as part of their visa application. Details and an adjustable letter template can be found here.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Columbia University’s International Students and Scholars Office.

Columbia is committed to global sustainability efforts. We encourage you to bring your own reusable bottle and fill up at any of our water refill stations available on Morningside Campus during Commencement Week. Locate water filling stations or find an Event Host, wearing a blue shirt, for assistance. 

Learn more about Columbia's Green Initiatives

Download a variety of maps and guides to help you plan your visit to campus during Commencement Week.