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Commencement

Yale University holds one graduation or Commencement ceremony each year at the end of the spring term in May.  Yale Commencement 2016 is on May 23, 2016; see here for future years' dates.

  • The Graduate School encourages all students who receive degrees in December or May of a given academic year to attend the Commencement ceremonies in May.  See the brief GSAS schedule below, and full  Yale Commencement schedule online. 
  • The  Office of the Secretary coordinates Commencement activities at Yale and maintains a University  website with information on orders for academic attire, local accommodations for family and friends, photography and  videography, parking options, and the schedule of events for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and other Yale events.

GSAS Commencement Questions?  Email us!

Prepare for Co​mmencement

GSAS Students who are graduating should begin early to make arrangements for Commencement, particularly travel arrangements for guests. Over 18,000 people attend Yale Commencement exercises each year, and last-minute reservations at hotels, restaurants and other facilities are typically unavailable. 

  • Ph.D. Students must submit the dissertation by the March deadline to participate in Commencement that May.
  • The Graduate School does not permit students to walk “early” if they have not submitted their degree petitions and/or completed dissertations by the May degree deadline, which is in mid-March. Students who submit dissertations after the spring deadline are awarded degrees the following December, and those graduates may participate in the following year’s Commencement exercises in May.
  • If you can not attend the ceremonies the year you received your degree, in special circumstances the Graduate School will allow you to participate in the ceremony the following year - email the    GS Commencement team to inquire.

Order Academic Attire  - Deadline: March 31

The deadline to pre-order academic attire (caps, gowns and hoods) from the Yale cap and gown agency always falls in late March.

Their retainable gowns come only in black. To purchase “Yale blue” custom regalia, see the  Oak Hall link at right.

*If you miss the pre-order March deadline, please see the cap and gown agency info online under “missed deadlines.”  It tells you how you can get last minute caps and gowns the weekend of Commencement at the Gym (cash only, late fee applies).

Complete the GSAS Response Form - Deadline: April 15

All students who are graduating in a given year must complete the Graduate School’s online  Commencement Response Form by April 15 to indicate whether they plan to attend the diploma ceremony in  Woolsey Hall (or at Horchow Hall for Jackson) and, if not, where they wish their diplomas to be sent. For those with degrees awarded in December who indicate they are NOT participating in Commencement exercises the following May, the   University Diploma office will begin to mail out diplomas in the spring term.

Obtain Visa Invitation Letters for International Guests

Graduating international students whose family members require formal invitations to Commencement for the purpose of obtaining a visa should request an invitation letter using the online request form of the  Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS).

The University Ceremony and Graduate School Diploma Ceremony - Monday

The University Commencement ceremony is held on Monday morning on Old Campus, with the Graduate School’s main diploma ceremony immediately following at Woolsey Hall, at about 12:15pm. No tickets are required for either of these events, for graduates or guests.

All GSAS graduating students must fill out the GSAS Commencement Response form by April 15 to march and participate in the Ceremonies, or to tell us you will NOT be attending and where to send your diploma.

University Commencement Ceremony - 10:30am, see Schedule and Info here

  • On Monday morning, graduates march in caps, gowns and hoods. They sit by school or college for the ceremonial awarding of degrees and awarding of University honorary degrees.
  • The University Ceremony is videotaped and livestreamed for real-time and post-event viewing online at the  Commencement website
  • Yale degrees are officially conferred here, but graduating students sit in front sections by school. They do NOT go on stage to receive diplomas at the Old Campus ceremony. Each Yale School and College has its own diploma awarding ceremony following the Old Campus Ceremony.
  • 15,000 guests may sit or stand on Old Campus - tickets are not required and seating is not reserved; handicapped access is available. Guests are encouraged to go to Old Campus early in the morning to find seats before the procession begins at 10:00am.

Graduate School Diploma Ceremony (GSAS including Engineering/SEAS)- about 12:15pm, see schedule here:

  • Video Livestream and online - The Graduate School Diploma Ceremony at  Woolsey Hall is videotaped and livestreamed for viewing online at Youtube and at the GSAS Commencement website here. Family and guests who can not attend can see you get your diploma at the   GSAS Ceremony in real time and afterwards.
  • At Woolsey Hall, all GSAS graduates sit by department in the center section of the ground floor, and go up on stage one by one to receive their diploma from the dean.
  • Graduates are assigned individually numbered seats, arranged alphabetically in  the center section front to back by department (A- S); a seating chart is emailed to participating graduates on the Friday before Commencement, and available only on the day of Commencement at HGS and at Woolsey Hall.
  • Family and guests may sit on the sides and balconies of  Woolsey Hall in open unreserved seating; some handicapped and wheelchair access seating is available. No tickets are required.
  • Please note that the Global Affairs master’s degree programs of the Jackson Institute in the Graduate School holds a separate diploma ceremony at   Horchow Hall on Hillhouse Avenue.

Join the Yale Alumni Community

All degree recipients are encouraged to become involved in Yale’s active alumni community. The Association of Yale Alumni ( AYA) and the Graduate School Alumni Association (GSAA) sponsor many opportunities for alumni to remain connected to the University through learning and service, including a career network, alumni groups throughout the world, special events, and occasions to volunteer and provide leadership. The Yale Alumni website details a full range of alumni programs and resources you can use.

  • All GSAS alumni are eligible for a free lifetime subscription to the Yale Alumni Magazine.
  • For those receiving a final Yale degree, your Yale email is extended to June 1 of the year following your graduation in May (June 1, 2017 for 2015-16 grads)
  • To receive this and other alumni communications from  AYA and the Graduate School, please update your contact information using the  online alumni directory or by email.

GSAS Commencement Questions? Email us! 

1861

Yale awarded the first Ph.D. degrees in the United States.