Below are answers to frequently asked questions to help you navigate Commencement Week. If your question is not answered below, please reach out to the Commencement Office by phone at 212-854-1753 or email at commencement@columbia.edu.

General

University Commencement will be held on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The degree candidate procession will begin at 9:30 a.m. General admission gates open at 8:30 a.m. The ceremony is a ticketed event held outdoors on the Morningside campus. Those invited to participate in the Commencement ceremony include students from every Columbia school or affiliate institution who graduated in October 2016, February 2017, and May 2017.

In addition to University Commencement, Columbia's sixteen schools, Barnard College, and Teachers College will each hold a graduation ceremony, sometimes called a Class Day, during Commencement Week (May 13 – 18, 2017). For more information, please reference School Ceremonies.

"Graduation" is the term for completing your course of study at the University and fulfilling the requirements for your degree. In order to graduate and obtain your diploma, you must submit an Application for Degree or Certificate with the Office of the Registrar. Each of Columbia's sixteen schools and two affiliate institutions holds graduation ceremonies (sometimes called a school ceremony, convocation, or Class Day) to honor the accomplishments of the graduating class.

Commencement Day or University Commencement ceremony refers to the University-wide ceremony celebrating those who are receiving their degrees from all Columbia schools in a given year. At the University Commencement ceremony, degrees are symbolically conferred on candidates by the University President. Attending the University Commencement ceremony is not required to graduate from the University and receive your diploma. There is only one University Commencement ceremony for the year, which is held in May. All graduates from the previous October, and from February and May of the current year, are invited to attend.

For more information about graduation, please visit the Office of the Registrar.

For more information on specific ceremonies, Class Days, and receptions, as well as diploma pick-up times and locations, please reference School Ceremonies.

Degrees are awarded for all schools in October 2016, February 2017, and May 2017. They are also awarded in June for some Health Sciences programs. Every candidate whose graduation date falls during these periods is invited to participate in the annual University Commencement ceremony held in May, when degrees are officially conferred. For May graduates, diplomas are distributed only after degrees have been conferred at University Commencement.

There are a host of services available at the University Commencement ceremony for guests with disabilities and their parties. General admission tickets are sufficient to access these services. Special tickets are not required.

Guests in need of disability services and their parties should come to a specially designated gate (also noted on the map on the back of the ticket) to facilitate easy entrance.

The location for those designated gates are:

  • 116th Street and Amsterdam Avenue
  • 115th Street and Amsterdam Avenue (between Wallach and Hartley Halls) 

 

From there, guests will be escorted to an accessible seating area equipped with hearing assistance devices, closed caption monitors, and large print programs.

Unfortunately we are not able to offer special parking for guests with disabilities. However, a shuttle bus will be circling the campus perimeter before the ceremony to help transport guests to the designated gate. If you or your party would like to access the shuttle bus, kindly ask any Event Host, who will be wearing a blue shirt.

For further information on Disability Services, please visit Disability Services.

There are designated gates for guests with disabilities or limited mobility, the elderly needing assistance, or those needing sign language interpretation.

The following gates should be used on Commencement Day:

  • 116th Street and Amsterdam Avenue
  • 115th Street and Amsterdam Avenue (between Wallach and Hartley Halls)

We strongly recommend that guests with disabilities enter campus through the designated gates identified above. The general admission gates on 114th Street have stairs and are a considerable distance from the designated disability seating areas. The large crowds at Commencement will make movement on campus difficult. Additionally, there is no access across campus on Commencement Day. Movement from Broadway to Amsterdam Avenue may require traveling long distances around the campus perimeter. Therefore, we suggest you consider the location of these gates when planning your arrival to campus.

For further information on Disability Services, please visit Disability Services.

Columbia University tradition holds that all degrees are conferred at the University Commencement ceremony, in which members of all schools are invited to participate. However, each of the University's eighteen schools and affiliate institutions also honors its graduates with a separate event, unique to each school.

Please note that these events are organized separately by individual schools, take place at various times and locations across the city, and may require tickets. Although the Commencement website is updated regularly, please confirm all dates, times, and locations with your school before making final plans, as some information may change. For more information on specific ceremonies, Class Days, and receptions, as well as diploma pick-up times and locations, please reference School Ceremonies.

Note: Any questions that are not answered on the official Commencement website should be directed to the contact listed for each school.

Undergraduates from Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences should visit GradZone for more information.

The University Commencement ceremony and individual Class Days and graduations are held in various locations. Please refer to the Schedule of Events for further details.

Please visit the Plan Your Visit section of this website for more information.

A webcast of the University Commencement ceremony is available on the Commencement website for live, online viewing the day of Commencement, as well as after the ceremony.

In addition to University Commencement, webcasts of the graduation and Class Day ceremonies are also available for viewing on the Commencement website for the following schools: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of General Studies, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Columbia College, Columbia Law School, and the School of International and Public Affairs.

Please note: These webcasts are available to be viewed on demand via the Commencement website. There are no DVDs or downloadable copies available for purchase.

Photos of University Commencement are not available for distribution or purchase. Please direct any inquiries about photos taken at any graduation ceremony directly to the individual school. Appropriate school contact information can be found on School Ceremonies.

Commencement Day

Commencement is traditionally held on the third Wednesday in May. The date is selected and confirmed by the University Senate and publicized on the academic calendar on the University Registrar's website.

Confirmed dates through 2020:

  • May 17, 2017
  • May 16, 2018
  • May 15, 2019
  • May 20, 2020

 

If you or one of your guests is feeling ill on Commencement Day (i.e., experiencing muscle aches, fever, fatigue, coughing, etc.), we respectfully request that you reconsider your attendance for the sake of your own health and the health of those around you. To safeguard against the spread of illness, it is recommended that anyone feeling sick remain at home and rest until 24 hours after the symptoms have passed. If you or one of your guests becomes ill during the ceremony, please notify an Event Host, an information booth staffer, or a member of Public Safety, all of whom will be able to arrange for immediate medical attention. You may also call Health Services at Columbia University at 212-854-2284.

To learn more about precautionary measures recommended for preventing the spread of illness, please visit the University's preparedness tips page.

It is Columbia tradition that the President of the University speaks at University Commencement. Many of the schools within Columbia have guest speakers at their individual ceremonies. For more information on the School speakers, please refer to School Ceremonies.

Children are welcome at University Commencement. All children over the age of three must have a ticket to attend.

Because of space constraints, it is recommended that you leave strollers at home. There is no stroller parking or storage available; however, if you must bring a stroller to University Commencement, please do not use the general admission gates to enter. Please enter at the accessible gate at Amsterdam and 115th Street.

Please keep in mind that Commencement Day is a crowded outdoor event with little space to move around and may prove to be a challenging environment for small children. However, guests can also view the ceremony from Levien Gymnasium, an indoor, accessible viewing location.

Guests should bring a printout of their University Commencement ticket for seamless entry through the general admission gates.

For security reasons and to save time, please refrain from bringing bags to campus on Commencement Day. Any bags or packages brought to the ceremony will be subject to search.

University Commencement, as well as individual school ceremonies and the Baccalaureate Service, will take place rain or shine.

The campus will be closed to the general public until the ceremony has ended. Tickets will be checked at designated entrance gates to the Morningside campus, which open for ticket holders at 8:30 a.m.

Nongraduating students and employees with a CUID may be on campus but should not expect to attend the ceremony without a ticket, as seating is very limited.

All children over the age of three require a ticket. Lost tickets will not be replaced.

Tickets

Tickets to University Commencement are required for everyone except degree candidates and officers of the University participating in the ceremony. They are valid only for the University Commencement ceremony.

Note: A ticket will allow for admission to the campus but does not guarantee a seat. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved. The selling or buying of University Commencement tickets is strictly prohibited. Please be cautious of offers to sell or buy Commencement tickets. Tickets hold no official resale value and may be unauthorized copies, therefore deemed unusable and denied on Commencement Day. Commencement tickets are solely for the purpose of allowing the friends and relatives of graduating students to attend the ceremony.

The campus will be closed to the general public until the ceremony has ended. Tickets will be checked at designated entrance gates to the Morningside campus starting at 8:30 a.m. Nongraduating students and employees with a CUID may be on campus but should not expect to attend the ceremony without a ticket, as seating is very limited. All children over the age of three require a ticket. Lost tickets will not be replaced.

For further information on ticketing, online registration, and guest procedures, please visit the Ticket Information section on the Graduating Students page.

Ticket requirements may vary for the individual school ceremonies, including Class Day and graduations. Please refer to School Ceremonies for further details regarding tickets.

Ticket requirements may vary for the individual school ceremonies, including Class Day and graduations. Please reference School Ceremonies for further details regarding tickets.

For Commencement: Information on the number of tickets per student will be announced in the spring semester. Kindly note that ticket allocations are determined by the number of graduates, along with the spatial and security constraints of campus.

All graduating students who would like to participate in Commencement are required to register online. Graduating students do not need tickets for themselves; however, they do need to register in order to attend and to request tickets for their guests. Guests are then required to present these tickets to access the ceremony at all general admission entrances for the outdoor seating area on Low Plaza and South Field or the indoor viewing location in the Levien Gymnasium. The number of graduates, along with the spatial and security constraints of campus, necessitate a limit on the number of tickets per student.

Ticket requirements may vary for the individual school ceremonies, including Class Day and graduations. Please refer to School Ceremonies for further details regarding tickets, and reach out to the school contact listed on their page.

Selling Commencement tickets is strictly prohibited. Please be cautious of offers to sell or buy Commencement tickets. Tickets hold no official resale value and may be unauthorized copies, therefore deemed unusable and denied on Commencement Day. Commencement tickets are solely for the purpose of allowing the friends and relatives of graduating students to attend the ceremony. The campus will be closed to the general public until the ceremony has ended.

Ticket requirements may vary for the individual school ceremonies, including Class Day and graduations. Please reference School Ceremonies for further details regarding tickets, and reach out to the school contact listed on their page.

Information on the number of tickets per student will be announced in the spring semester. Kindly note that ticket allocations are determined by the number of graduates, along with the spatial and security constraints of campus.

Ticket requirements may vary for the individual school ceremonies, including Class Day and graduations. Please refer to School Ceremonies for further details regarding tickets, and reach out to the school contact listed on their page.

For Graduates

All academic attire, including the cap and gown, is ordered through the Columbia University Bookstore. The best way to order academic attire, graduation announcements, class rings, and diploma frames is at the Graduation Fair.

The Morningside Campus Graduation Fair will be held March 7 – March 9, 2017, at the Columbia University Morningside Campus Bookstore. The Medical School Graduation Fair will be held on March 11, 2017, at the Medical Center Bookstore.

Undergraduates and master's candidates do not need to preorder regalia but can purchase their gowns at the bookstore. Master's candidates at Columbia do not receive hoods. PhD candidates must preorder academic attire for rental or purchase.

For further information on academic attire and the Graduation Fair, please visit Graduating Students.

Unless they have made arrangements for summer housing, graduating Columbia College and SEAS undergraduates must move out of University housing by noon on the day after the University Commencement ceremony.

Students from each of the individual schools line up on different areas of upper campus on the morning of the University Commencement ceremony. Please refer to the Assembly of Candidates map on the Campus Maps page.

Following the graduation ceremonies, diplomas for May 2017 graduates will be mailed to the "Diploma Address" that is on file in SSOL. October 2016 and February 2017 graduates will have received their diplomas in the mail up to two months following their graduation dates. For more information, please visit the website of the University Registrar.

Planning Your Visit

There are limited on-campus accommodations available for guests during Commencement Week.

The Commencement room package includes a double room with two twin beds and a shared bath for three nights. The suite package includes two double rooms (total of four twin beds) and a private bath for three nights.

For more information, updates, pricing, and to make reservations, please visit the Housing Services and Commencement Housing website.

In addition to on-campus housing, off-campus accommodations for Commencement Week are also convenient. Some area hotels may offer special rates to Columbia guests. For a list of these hotels, please visit University Commencement Housing. It is recommended that you make your reservations for hotels in the Columbia neighborhood early.

Please note that if neighborhood hotels become booked, the city's numerous midtown hotels are only a short subway ride from the University.

Parking in Morningside Heights on University Commencement morning is challenging. On-campus parking, which is extremely limited, is not available to the general public during Commencement Week. It is recommended to take public transportation, such as a subway, bus, or taxi to Commencement. If you must drive, please leave plenty of time to find parking and also allow time for walking to campus. There are only a few parking garages near campus. These fill up early 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. Please note that many of the 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 that the street will be closed. Failure to notice these signs may result in your car being towed. For more information, please see Parking & Directions.

Please contact the International Students and Scholars Office with this request. Their contact information is below.

E: isso@columbia.edu
P: 212-854-3587
International House North
524 Riverside Drive, 1st Floor

New York, NY 10027

Columbia University will hold its annual Baccalaureate Service on Sunday, May 14, 2017. The service will be held at St. Paul's Chapel on the Morningside campus. This service is for degree candidates from the undergraduate schools: Columbia College, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of General Studies, and Barnard College.

Families and friends of undergraduate candidates are invited to attend. No advance tickets are required.

Seating inside the chapel is limited and reserved primarily for the candidates. Guests will be accommodated in alternative seating outside the chapel with a simulcast of the service shown on monitors. Guests interested in attending the service are encouraged to arrive by 8:45 a.m.