2016 Commencement: May 10-15

2016 Commencement Hero

University Commencement on the National Mall

GW graduates looking at the stage with the Washington Monument in the background at University Commencement.

University Commencement

University Commencement brings students from all of the George Washington University's (GW) schools together for the conferral of their degrees. While individual names are not called, graduates rise as their degrees are announced by their deans and conferred by President Knapp. This year, University Commencement takes place on May 15.

Plan for University Commencement with this year's schedule
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is the 2015 Commencement speaker.

Speakers & Honorary Degree Recipients

Speakers and honorary degree recipients are also an important part of GW's Commencement celebration. Each year, the University Commencement speaker, school celebration speakers and student speakers provide insight and advice to graduates. Honorary degree recipients are presented with GW degrees as a tribute to their life’s work.

Meet this year's speakers and honorary degree recipients

Individual Recognition Ceremonies

Individual school ceremony where graduates walk across the stage.

School Celebration Ceremonies

Each of GW's schools holds it own celebration ceremony to honor their graduates. In these ceremonies, students are called across the stage. For questions, contact your school directly.

Find your school's schedule
Doctoral graduate student shakes hands with leadership during hooding ceremony.

Doctoral Hooding Ceremony

The Doctoral Hooding Ceremony honors doctoral candidates acquiring the highest degree in academics. Each candidate will be formally presented with their hood. Tickets are required to attend. The Doctoral Hooding Ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. at the Charles E. Smith Center. A reception will immediately follow in Oglethorpe Great Hall in Duquès Hall.

Top GW graduates participate in the Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony during Commencement Week.

Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony

President Knapp invites students in the top 10% of the senior class and top one percent of the junior class to join Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the country. The induction ceremony is invite only and tickets are required. This ceremony will be held on Friday, May 13, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. in Lisner Auditorium.

Audiences listen to ceremony at GW's Interfaith Baccalaureate.

Interfaith Baccalaureate Service

This service celebrates the diversity of faith traditions at GW that support our community’s commitment to service and learning. The program includes remarks from President Knapp, musical performances, meditations representing various faith traditions and student reflections. Baccalaureate is open to the entire GW community and this year’s is on Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. at Western Presbyterian Church (2401 Virginia Avenue, NW).

Register to attend

For Graduates

GW Commencement Tickets

Commencement and School Celebration Tickets

Graduates must pick up tickets for their guests to attend University Commencement on the National Mall and individual recognition ceremonies. You are responsible for taking the necessary actions to obtain tickets, which are distributed by your school and University Events.

Get your tickets
Graphic depicting academic dress including a gown, cap, hood, tassel and band.


Graduates are required to wear academic dress to Commencement ceremonies. You can purchase regalia at Commencement Fair 2016 (Tuesday, March 29-April 2) at the GW Campus Store.  

Learn about GW's academic dress
Icon of a diploma scroll.

Diploma Details

Undergraduate and graduate students will receive their diploma in the mail after Commencement. Doctoral students may pick up their diploma on campus or have it mailed to them. No matter which option you need, it is important to make sure your information is up-to-date to receive yours.

Update your information
Apply to graduate text over image of grad looking at Capitol.

Apply to Graduate

All graduates of any program (undergraduate, graduate or doctorate) must apply to graduate. While the process may differ slightly depending on what school you are a part of, it is important for all graduates to understand the requirements and deadlines you must follow to celebrate commencement.

Submit your application

Plan for Commencement

GW graduates looking at the stage with the Washington Monument in the background at University Commencement.

Alternate Site Plan

University Commencement is held rain or shine. However, if an unexpected situation develops, you may have to follow GW’s Alternate Site Plan. Current information on the status of events is available 24/7 from May 9-May 15, 2016 through Campus Advisories (202-994-5050).

Icon of Metro car

Transportation & Parking

We encourage all attendees to take the Metro to the National Mall for University Commencement. However, there are other options, including official information and guidance from GW Transportation and Parking

Find transportation options
Icon of sign language


GW's committment to accessibility also applies to all of our Commencement ceremonies. We provide services such as support for wheelchair users and sign language interpreters for graduates and guests in attendance who need them.

Use our accessibility services
Take the Virtual Tour on map of the National mall

Take the Virtual Tour

Use the Virtual Tour to prepare for your visit to GW, D.C. and even Commencement ceremonies. You can come to Commencement Week 2016 prepared by finding the locations for all of the events on your schedule and understanding how to get there. 

Prepare with the Virtual Tour