Watch the Diploma Awarding Ceremony Live

Ticket Order and Pick Up

Tickets ordered for the Morning Exercises, Diploma Awarding Ceremony, and Afternoon Program as well as the GSAS breakfast and luncheon must be picked up by the student ordering the ticket themselves during ticket pick up the week of Commencement. Guest tickets for the Morning Exercises and the Diploma Awarding Ceremony are issued only to graduates participating in those ceremonies. Additional tickets for Breakfast and Lunch may be purchased at Ticket Distribution in Dudley House or the Information Tent at the hours listed below. 

Any available tickets will be distributed by wait-list lottery and students will be notified on or before May 16. 


Degree candidates must pick up their own tickets in person with photo identification, at the following times and locations. Tickets cannot be mailed.

  • Friday, May 18, 10:00a.m.-4:00 p.m., Graduate Student Lounge, Dudley House (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.

  • Monday, May 21, 10:00 a.m.⎼4:00 p.m., Graduate Student Lounge, Dudley House (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.

  • Tuesday, May 22, 10:00 a.m.⎼4:00 p.m., Graduate Student Lounge, Dudley House (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.

  • Wednesday, May 23, 10:00 a.m.⎼4:00 p.m., Graduate Student Lounge, Dudley House (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.

  • Thursday, May 24, 7:00 a.m.⎼2:30 p.m., GSAS Information Tent, Maxwell Dworkin, 33 Oxford Street.

November, March, and May degree recipients participate in this one festive occasion marking the transition from student to alumni. Commencement will be held on May 24, 2018.


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.


Ticket Allocation

GSAS breakfast with the Deans and GSAS procession to Tercentenary Theatre

no ticket maximum
degree candidates only join the procession

The Morning Exercises of Commencement in Tercentenary Theatre

two guest ticket maximum

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

degree candidate ID&Lanyard serves as ticket

four additional tickets to Science Center Commencement broadcast

GSAS Champagne Reception and Luncheon

one complimentary for degree candidate, $20 per person for additional tickets

The Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association (the “Afternoon Program”)

four guest ticket maximum

degree candidate ID&Lanyard serves as ticket


For reasons of capacity and safety tickets are limited for the Morning Exercises and the GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony in Sanders Theatre. 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 lottery for graduates who have already ordered their tickets will open for registration after ticket request period closes. A direct link to the lottery will be sent via e-mail to the graduate. 

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.


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 Passes 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. Bags larger than 12x12x12 are not permitted in Harvard Yard during Commencement, strollers are not permitted in Tercentenary Theatre. 


Commencement Schedule

Dudley House Faculty Deans Reception, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

4:00 p.m⎼6:00 p.m. Dudley House Faculty Deans Jim and Doreen Hogle host a reception for degree candidates and their guests, Main Dining Room, Dudley House. 

Commencement Day, Thursday, May 24, 2018

(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, 35 Oxford Street, for all degree candidates and their guests.

7:15 a.m. GSAS Procession begins from 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.

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 Sanders Theatre. The Diploma Awarding Ceremony will be simulcast on large screens at the Science Center Lecture Halls A–D.

12:00 noon Champagne reception and luncheon begins on the Lawns at Richards Hall, behind Perkins Hall, 35 Oxford Street, and continues until approximately 3:00 p.m. for all degree recipients and their guests.

2:15 p.m. Afternoon Program begins in Harvard Yard. President Drew Faust gives her address, followed by the featured Commencement speaker, the Honorable John Lewis (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

Graduates can receive up to four tickets to the Commencement broadcast in the Science Center, which will show the GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony in Sanders Theatre. The ceremony will also be streamed live 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 including the Science Center which is first-come first serve for the Morning Exercises and Afternoon Program.

Regalia Orders

Academic regalia is required for degree candidates in the Morning Exercises of Commencement and the GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony. Rented regalia will be distributed at The Harvard Square Coop location from May 17 to May 24, from 9 am to 9 pm (10 am to 7 pm on Sunday the 19th). The Coop opens at 6:15 am on Commencement Day for regalia pick up. All returns must be made by June 8th, 2018.


Orations Competition

The Commencement 2018 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 2018 submissions was 4 p.m. on March 29, 2018. Check out the Commencement Office’s website to learn more.

Children’s Diplomas

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, 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. For more information, e-mail Karen Lounsbury noting your name, department, degree, and the name(s) of your child(ren). 

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 2017 or who will receive a March 2018 or May 2018 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 e-mail 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.