The University holds one graduation ceremony each year at the conclusion of the spring term. The Graduate School encourages all students who receive degrees in December and May of a given academic year to attend the Commencement ceremonies in May. The Office of Secretary coordinates Commencement activities at Yale and maintains a website providing information regarding 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.
Students who are graduating should begin early to plan arrangements for Commencement, particularly travel arrangements for guests. Over 16,000 people attend Yale Commencement exercises each year, and last-minute reservations at hotels, restaurants and other facilities are typically unavailable.
You must submit the dissertation by the March deadline to participate in Commencement that May. Please note that the Graduate School does not permit students to walk “early” if they have not submitted their degree petitions and 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.
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. There are no tickets required for either of these events. At Woolsey Hall, graduates sit by department in the center section of the ground floor, and go up one by one to receive their diploma from the dean. Graduates are assigned individually numbered seats, a seating chart is available only on the day of Commencement at HGS and at Woolsey Hall. Family and guests may sit on the sides and balconies of the hall in open unreserved seating; some handicapped and wheelchair access seating is available. Please note that several master’s degree programs in the Graduate School hold a separate diploma ceremony at Luce Hall.
The deadline to pre-order academic attire (i.e., 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 link above right. If you miss the pre-order March deadline, please see the cap and gown agency info under “missed deadlines” for last minute regalia available the weekend of Commencement.
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 or Luce Hall 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.
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 sponsor many opportunities for alumni to remain connected to the University through learning and service, including a career network, alumni clubs throughout the world, special events, and occasions to volunteer and provide leadership. The AYA website details a full range of alumni programs and resources. All alumni are eligible for a free subscription to Yale's alumni magazine. In order to receive and other communications from AYA and the Graduate School, please update your contact information using the online alumni directory or by email.