November, March, and May degree recipients participate in this one festive occasion marking the transition from student to alumni. In 2016, Commencement will be held on May 26, 2016.

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 ticket maximum

degree candidate does not need her/his own ticket

GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony in Sanders Theatre

PhD and terminal Master's candidates only

two ticket maximum

degree candidate does not need her/his own 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 Exercises”)

five ticket maximum

this includes the degree candidate


For reasons of capacity and safety there are no exceptions to the two-ticket rule for the Morning Exercises and the GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony in Sanders Theatre.

Commencement Schedule

Dudley House Faculty Deans Reception, Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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. RSVP by May 23, 2016, by calling 617-495-2255.

Commencement Day, Thursday, May 26, 2016

(Times are approximate, subject to change, and may overlap.)

6:45 a.m. Harvard Yard gates open for all guests.

6:30 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.

9:45 a.m. Morning Exercises begin in Harvard Yard.

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 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 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 Commencement 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.

Regalia Orders

Academic regalia must be rented (or purchased) from the Harvard Coop using the Coop’s ordering form. Order in store, by fax (617-499-2016), or by mail. Call 617-499-2070 or e-mail for more information.

Please Note: Orders for regalia for master’s degree candidates must be placed from March 21 through April 6 and from March 21 through April 22 for PhD candidates.

Orations Competition

The Commencement 2016 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 2016 submissions is April 1, 2016. Check out the Commencement Office’s website to learn more.

Ticket Order and Pick Up

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, 2016. Tickets can only be ordered online and must be picked up by the student ordering the ticket themselves during ticket pickup the week of Commencement.

For reasons of capacity and safety, there will be no exceptions to the two-ticket rule for the Morning Exercises and the GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony in Sanders Theatre.


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

  • Friday, May 20, 10:00a.m.-4:00 p.m., Dudley House (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.

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

  • Tuesday, May 24, 10:00 a.m.⎼4:00 p.m., Dudley House (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.

  • Wednesday, May 25, 10:00 a.m.⎼4:00 p.m., Dudley House (Lehman Hall), Harvard Yard.

  • Thursday, May 26, 7:00 a.m.⎼2:30 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 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 35 Oxford Street. Please be aware that additional security may be in place at the entrance gates for Commencement guests, and delays can be expected.

Children’s Diplomas

If you are interested in accepting your degree with your child or children, please e-mail Karen Lounsbury for more information, noting your name, department, degree, and the name(s) of your child(ren).

Accessibility and Visas

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, guests with some mobility issues do find the simulcast facilities in Maxwell Dworkin or the Science Center to be preferable.

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 2015 or who will receive a March 2016 or May 2016 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 DVDs

DVDs of Commencement Day can be ordered by mail using a DVD Order Form.

Commencement photographs can be ordered from Commencement Photos, Inc., by mail, fax, or phone by using the commencement photographs  order form.