November, March, and May degree recipients participate in this one festive occasion marking the transition from student to alumni. Commencement will be held on Thursday, May 28, 2020.
Harvard University Commencement and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences commencement activities provide an enthusiastic din of celebration with many thousands of people in and around Harvard Square to mark the occasion. Commencement for GSAS students consists of five major and ticketed activities.
|GSAS Celebration of Graduates||no ticket maximum, complimentary|
GSAS breakfast with the Deans and GSAS procession to Tercentenary Theatre
no ticket maximum, complimentary
The Morning Exercises of Commencement and The Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association (the "Afternoon Program") in Tercentenary Theatre
two guest ticket maximum, complimentary
degree candidate ID & lanyard serves as ticket;
GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony in Sanders Theatre
PhD and terminal Master's candidates only
two guest ticket maximum, complimentary
degree candidate ID & lanyard serves as ticket
GSAS Champagne Reception and Luncheon
one complimentary for degree candidate, $20 per person for additional tickets
For reasons of capacity and safety, there are strict limits on numbers of tickets. GSAS degree candidates must order their tickets in advance online between April 1 and April 17, 2020. See ticket ordering below. Additional tickets may be available for The Morning Exercises, GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony, and Afternoon Program to degree candidates following ticket request period through a wait list lottery. Students may enter the lottery when requesting tickets. Waitlist awards will be made on or before May 20, 2020.
AB/AM and AB/SM degree candidates participate with Harvard College and their undergraduate houses in receipt of the AB degree, which is conferred last during the morning exercises. AB/AM and AB/SM candidates are not eligible to participate in GSAS commencement activities or receive guest tickets for any commencement activities through GSAS.
Tickets may be ordered for the Morning Exercises, Diploma Awarding Ceremony, and Afternoon Program as well as the GSAS breakfast and luncheon beginning on April 1, 2020. Tickets can only be ordered online and must be picked up by the student ordering the ticket themselves during ticket pick up the week of Commencement.
For reasons of capacity and safety, there are strict limits on numbers of tickets. Additional tickets may be available for The Morning Exercises, GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony, and Afternoon Program to degree candidates following ticket request period through a wait list lottery. Waitlist notifications will be made on or by May 20, 2020.
Order your tickets online for GSAS Commencement between April 1 and April 17, 2020. A late fee will be assesed for orders after April 17, 2020, pending space availability. All ticket orders are fully refundable until May 20, 2020.
Degree candidates must pick up their tickets in person, with photo identification, at the following times and locations. There are no exceptions to in-person pickup. Tickets cannot be mailed.
Friday, May 22, 10:00 a.m.⎼4:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.
Tuesday, May 26, 10:00 a.m.⎼4:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.
Wednesday, May 27, 10:00 a.m.⎼4:00 p.m., GSAS Student Center (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.
Thursday, May 28, 6:45 a.m.⎼2:00 p.m., GSAS Information Tent, Maxwell Dworkin, 33 Oxford Street.
Security measures are in effect for Harvard's Commencement. All degree candidates who are attending Commencement must visibly display their Harvard identification (ID) cards or Harvard Yard Pass before being granted admission to Harvard Yard. GSAS will distribute Commencement lanyards (a cord with an attached pouch to be worn around the neck) to degree candidates when they pick up their Commencement tickets. Lanyards allow degree recipients to display their ID cards visibly and gain speedier access to Harvard Yard. Degree recipients who are unable to pick up their lanyard and tickets before Commencement Day may obtain them at the GSAS Information Tent at 33 Oxford Street. Please be aware that additional security may be in place at the entrance gates for Commencement guests, and delays can be expected. Tickets must be picked up by the graduate and Harvard ID or other state-issued photo ID is required.
All persons, bags, and personal items are subject to inspection before entering Harvard Yard. No backpacks of any type will be admitted. No bag or item larger than 12 x 12”x 12” will be permitted inside the Yard.
GSAS Celebration of Graduates Reception, Wednesday, May 27, 2020
4:00 p.m⎼6:00 p.m. Executive Director of the GSAS Student Center Jackie Yun will host a reception for all GSAS degree candidates and their guests, GSAS Commons, Lehman Hall. Tickets are required and free.
Commencement Day, Thursday, May 28, 2020
(Times are approximate, subject to change, and may overlap.)
6:45 a.m. Harvard Yard gates open for all guests.
6:45 a.m. GSAS Breakfast with the Deans, the Lawns at Richards Hall, behind Perkins Hall, 33–35 Oxford Street, for all degree candidates and their guests.
7:10 a.m. GSAS Procession begins from 33–35 Oxford Street to Sever Quadrangle.
8:00 a.m. Degree candidates line-up for the Academic Procession next to Emerson Hall in Sever Quadrangle.
8:35 a.m. Procession of Advanced Degree Candidates into Tercentenary Theatre begins
9:45 a.m. Morning Exercises of Commencement begin in Harvard Yard. Morning Exercises include student orations, conferral of all degrees (not diploma distribution), and presentation of Honorary Degrees. See above for ticket information. The Morning Exercises will be live streamed on large screens at the Science Center Lecture Halls A–D, Maxwell-Dworkin 1st Floor Lecture Halls, and on the GSAS and Harvard University websites. Tickets are not required for the live stream.
11:30 a.m. The GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony in Sanders Theatre begins immediately following the Morning Exercises. Each student marching at the ceremony may request two guest tickets for seating in Sanders Theatre. The Diploma Awarding Ceremony will be live streamed on large screens at the Science Center Lecture Halls A–D, Maxwell-Dworkin 1st Floor Lecture Halls, and on the GSAS website. Tickets are not required for the live stream.
12:00 noon Champagne reception and luncheon begins on the Lawns at Richards Hall, behind Perkins Hall, 33–35 Oxford Street, and continues until approximately 3:00 p.m. for all degree recipients and their guests. Luncheon buffets will open at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are required.
2:15 p.m. Afternoon Program begins in Harvard Yard. President Lawrence Bacow gives his address, followed by the featured Commencement speaker (at approximately 3:00 p.m.). This event is generally less crowded than the Morning Exercises. Degree candidates and their guests are encouraged to attend.
4:00 p.m. PhD Hooding Ceremony for Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).
5:15 p.m. Graduate Hooding Ceremony for Division of Medical Sciences (DMS) graduates.
Live Broadcast for Morning Exercises, Diploma Awarding Ceremony, and Afternoon Exercises
A Commencement live broadcast in the Science Center will show the Morning Exercises, the GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony, and the Afternoon Program. The ceremonies will also be streamed live through links on the GSAS website.
The Commencement Morning and Afternoon Exercises will be broadcast live via Comcast Cable (Channel 283) in Boston/Brookline and Cambridge/Greater Boston. These ceremonies will also be streamed live on Harvard’s Commencement website, and various locations across campus.
Academic regalia is required for degree candidates in the Morning Exercises of Commencement and the GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony and is rented (hoods, caps, and tams may be purchased) from the Harvard Coop using the Coop’s online ordering forms for AM candidates, SM/ME candidates, and PhD candidates. Rentals and purchases are completed online only and transactions are unavailable in store. Pickup will be from The Coop's Harvard Square location and details are provided when ordering. Your Harvard ID will be required both when ordering your regalia online and picking it up in-store.
If you wish to purchase a robe or full academic regalia please use this form and return by email to the COOP directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. University Cap & Gown also offers Harvard University approved regalia for purchase.
Please Note: The deadline to order regalia for master’s degree candidates is April 1 2020, and the deadline to order PhD regalia is April 17, 2020.
The Commencement 2020 Student Orations Competition selects three graduating students to speak at the Morning Exercises, including one representative from the graduate or professional schools. Speeches must not exceed five minutes in length, and speakers are awarded a $1,000 prize. The deadline for 2020 submissions was Thursday, March 26, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. Check out the Commencement Office’s website to learn more.
GSAS presents a diploma to children up to the age of 5 who participate in the diploma awarding ceremony with their parent/graduate. If you are interested in accepting your degree with your child or children and having them join you crossing the stage, please indicate on the ticket request form how many children you wish to include. Please note that children must be accompanied by a chaperone. Due to the large number of child(ren), the adult accompanying your child will not view you cross the stage. They will not have an opportunity to take pictures. They will hand your child to you and then exit Sanders to retrieve your child. Children and chaperones do not require a Diploma Awarding Ceremony ticket, and will not be viewing the ceremony from Sanders Theatre. For additional questions about the children's program, contact email@example.com.
Accessibility and Visas
General information for guests with disabilities can be found on the University’s Commencement website. Due to the large number of people in Tercentenary Theatre for the Morning Exercises and the Afternoon Program, and the very limited number of seats for guests in wheelchairs in Sanders Theatre for the diploma ceremony, some guests with mobility issues do find the simulcast facilities in Maxwell Dworkin or the Science Center to be preferable. Any requests for participant or guest accommodation should be made on the Commencement Ticket Request Form.
Families of international students sometimes experience difficulty obtaining visas to attend Commencement. Family members who will require US visa stamps must apply to a US embassy or consulate far in advance to complete the process in time. International students who received a November 2019 or who will receive a March 2020 or May 2020 degree may request that the Dean's Office send an invitation letter to their family; this letter may facilitate the granting of a visa. To request a letter, please email the GSAS Office of Student Affairs at least three weeks before your family’s appointment with the embassy or consulate.
View a PDF containing specific information required to generate a letter.
The US Department of State provides details about the visitor's visa. You may also visit the Harvard International Office (HIO) website which outlines the documents needed for the visa application process. For more information, contact Darryl Zeigler, HIO International Student Advisor, at 617-495-2789.
Photos and videos
Commencement photographs can be ordered from Commencement Photos, Inc., by mail, fax, or phone by using the commencement photographs order form that is mailed to the graduate to your home address on file with the FAS Registrar.
Video of the Morning Exercises, Diploma Awarding Ceremony, and Afternoon Program will be available via live web streaming and posted online following the event.