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Tips for Commencement

Commencement involves planning and preparation. These tips are designed to help students get ready to celebrate.


For the Procession, Commencement Morning Exercises, and Diploma Awarding Ceremonies, all degree candidates must wear their academic regalia and display their Harvard ID in the lanyard supplied at Commencement ticket pickup. The Harvard ID and lanyard allow graduating students to enter Harvard Yard.


Light breakfast items (pastries, tea, and coffee) are available for participating graduates at the Lawns at Richards Hall at 6:15 a.m. The Champagne Reception and Luncheon takes place from noon to approximately 4:00 p.m. for students and guests (tickets required). Commencement is a long and active day, and students are encouraged to bring their own snacks and a bottle of water to Tercentenary Theatre with them!


General accessibility information for guests can be found on the University’s Commencement website. Any requests for participant or guest accessibility accommodations at Commencement events should have been made on the Commencement registration form. Due to the large number of people in Tercentenary Theatre for the University-wide Commencement Morning Exercises, and the limited number of seats for guests in wheelchairs in Sanders Theatre for the Diploma Awarding Ceremonies, some guests with mobility issues can find the simulcast facilities in Maxwell Dworkin preferable. Seating is available in Maxwell Dworkin on a first-come, first-served basis.


Security measures are in effect for Harvard’s Commencement. All degree candidates who attend the Commencement Morning Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre must visibly display their Harvard IDs or Harvard Yard passes before they are granted admission to Harvard Yard. Harvard Griffin 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 on Commencement morning at the Harvard Griffin 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.

Tips for Your Guests 

A guest ticket for the Commencement Morning Exercises guarantees access to the Yard but does not reserve an actual seat. If guests want to secure a seat, they must arrive at Harvard Yard early. Harvard Griffin GSAS guests can enter the Yard via the Massachusetts Avenue gates when they open at 6:45 a.m. Many guests line up well in advance of the gates opening in order to get a seat for the Commencement Morning Exercises.

The Commencement Morning Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre are festive and fun but not for the faint of heart: seats, bathrooms, food, and water are very limited. 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. Strollers are permitted only in the Old Yard and not in Tercentenary Theatre.

Guests of Harvard Griffin GSAS graduates without tickets can livestream both the Commencement Morning Exercises and the Diploma Awarding Ceremonies from Maxwell Dworkin. This location may provide more comfort for guests, especially those with mobility issues. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Photos and Video

Harvard Griffin GSAS partners with GradImages® to support one of the biggest moments in a graduate’s life: walking across the stage and into the next chapter. Visit GradImages to view and purchase custom photo products like prints, plaques, specialty gifts, and more.

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