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Tips for Commencement

Commencement involves planning and preparation. Read tips designed to help you be ready to celebrate.


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


Light breakfast items (pastries, tea, and coffee) will be available for students at Richards Hall at 6:15 a.m. Lunch will take place on the Lawns at Richards Hall following the Diploma Awarding Ceremony. There is a large gap of time between meals, and you will be doing a lot of walking, so we highly recommend you bring your own portable snacks and a bottle of water into Tercentenary Theatre with you! 


General accessibility information for guests can be found on the University’s Commencement website. Due to the large number of people in Tercentenary Theatre for the Commencement Exercises, and the limited number of seats for guests in wheelchairs in Sanders Theatre for the Diploma Awarding Ceremony, some guests with mobility issues do find the simulcast facilities in Annenberg, Maxwell Dworkin, or the Science Center preferable. Any requests for participant or guest accommodation should be made on the Commencement ticket request form once available.


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. 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 Exercises guarantees access to the Yard but does not reserve an actual seat. If your guests want to secure a seat, they should 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 Exercises.

The Commencement Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre are festive and fun but not for the faint of heart: seats, bathrooms, food, and water are very limited. Bring sunscreen and water. Please note: bags larger than 12"x12"x12" and strollers will not be permitted in Harvard Yard on Commencement morning.

Guests without tickets can watch a simulcast of the event with added commentary in the Science Center lecture halls or Maxwell Dworkin G115. Simulcast venues provide more comfort for your guests, especially those with mobility issues.

Photos and Video

Commencement photographs can be ordered directly from Commencement Photos, Inc., by using the commencement photographs order form mailed to your home address on file with the FAS Registrar. 

Video of the Commencement Exercises and Diploma Awarding Ceremony will be live-streamed on the Harvard Griffin GSAS website and posted online following the event.

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