Commencement Details

Know Before You Go: Commencement on the National Mall

Click on a topic below to learn more:


National Mall Site Map

Site map for Commencement on the National Mall: On 17th and Constitution ave - ADA drop-off and seating, information tent. Along Constitution Ave, restrooms and reunification tent. Seating and stage are north of the Washington Monument, facing south, with graduates centered and guests to either side. 5 entrance gates and 4 first aid tents along borders of 17th St, Constitution Ave, and 15th St.

Map Key

navy blue color block  Graduate Seating

yellow color block  Guest Seating

red color block  Main Stage

purple color block  Restrooms

first aid icon  First Aid 

tent icon  Reunification Tent 

road closure icon  Road Closure 

question mark icon  Information Tent 

person in wheelchair icon  ADA

School Abbreviations

  • CCAS: Columbian College of Arts & Sciences
  • CPS: College of Professional Studies
  • ESIA: Elliott School of International Affairs
  • GSEHD: Graduate School of Education and Human Development
  • GWSB: GW School of Business
  • LAW: GW Law School
  • SEAS: School of Engineering & Applied Science
  • SON: School of Nursing
  • SMHS: School of Medicine & Health Sciences
  • MISPH: Milken Institute School of Public Health

Ceremony Details

Location: The Washington Monument. 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC (for guests that do not need access to the ADA drop-off area); ADA seating guests should use 1600 Constitution Avenue, NW.

The Commencement site will be secured by fencing with entrance gates as indicated on the site map. The U.S. Park Police and other security personnel will be on site.  

All students participating in Commencement on the National Mall must wear regalia. A very limited supply of regalia is available for purchase in person at the Campus Store; availability is not guaranteed. Visit the Commencement FAQs page for details on keepsakes.

Gates open at 8:00 a.m., the ceremony will begin around 10:30 a.m. and is expected to end by noon.  

The ceremony may be viewed live on the Commencement website homepage for those who are unable to attend in -person.

A digital version of the program will be available on the Commencement website homepage the morning of the ceremony.

Commencement Welcome Center

Students and guests who need more information about Commencement Week should visit the help desk inside the Commencement Welcome Center located on the first floor of the University Student Center (800 21st Street, NW).  The Commencement Welcome Center will be open:

  • Wednesday, May 15, 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 16, 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Friday, May 17, 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 18, 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 19, 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Please use the 21st Street entrance to access the Welcome Center. If the building is restricted to GWorld cardholders, a member of our Commencement staff will be at the entrance to admit guests.

Graduate Seating

Graduate seating opens at 8:00 am. Graduates must be seated by 10:15 am.  Be prepared to show the QR code from your GradPass, either on your mobile device or as a printout when you arrive. Graduates may use any entrance; we recommend using Gate 3 for the most direct access to the graduate seating area.

To access your GradPass: 

  • Log in to the registration system and click on “Print Your GradPass”.  
  • Click on the link on the email titled, “Your GradPass for [EVENT NAME]  is Here” to access the GradPass.  

We recommend that you download, or take a screenshot of, the GradPass for each event.  Be sure to include all of the QR code in your screenshot.

Please note: Each event has a unique GradPass that may only be used at the event listed above the QR code.

Graduates who need ADA seating should ask an usher for assistance.

There is no shade available in the graduate seating area, including no shade in the graduate ADA seating section.  Graduates may not use umbrellas as they block the view of other graduates and guests.

Guest Seating

Guest seating opens at 8:00 a.m. Electronic tickets with QR codes are required for all guests who will be older than 2 years of age by Commencement Week 2024. Be prepared to show your QR code, either on your mobile device or as a printout, when you arrive.  If you did not receive one, please contact your graduate; all graduates who registered received tickets with QR codes for each of their guests. All guests must have a ticket for admission. The ticket must be for Commencement on the National Mall only. Please expect longer-than-anticipated lines at the entrance gates.

Guest seating is available on a general admission basis.  Please note the location of the guest entrances on the map provided. 

An ADA seating area is reserved for guests who have limited mobility; they may be accompanied by one guest. Commencement staff will be available to escort guests from the drop-off area to the ADA seating section. Visit the Commencement Accessibility webpage for details on ADA Seating and Drop-Off on the National Mall.

There is no shade available in any guest seating area, including no shade in the ADA seating section. Guests may not use umbrellas as they block the view of other guests; umbrellas are allowed in the overflow viewing area.  

Please note: The plastic flooring used in all guest seating areas, which is required by the National Park Service, has a reflective surface that makes the seating area very bright and can increase the air temperature by 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The same flooring can become slippery to walk on if there is rain or condensation remaining from the morning dew. Use caution when walking on the flooring as it may be uneven in areas.

Faculty Procession

Faculty who registered to attend Commencement on the National Mall and walk in the academic procession should report to the backstage check-in tent between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Faculty must provide their own regalia.

Marshals will line up faculty and lead the faculty procession to the stage.

National Mall Transportation

Metro illustration


We encourage you to take the Metro. You can use the yellow, green, orange, blue, and silver lines. The most convenient exit stations for University Commencement on the National Mall are the Smithsonian Metro Station and Federal Triangle Metro Station. Use Metro’s trip planner and take travel time into consideration.

Bike illustration

Alternative Transportation

There are also various Capital Bikeshare stations around the city, including near our campus and the mall.

Taxi illustration

Driving & Taxis

Parking is extremely limited. Taxis are available throughout the city.

Parking illustration


We urge guests to take the Metro, walk or take taxis during Commencement Week. If you do drive, parking is not guaranteed. For school celebrations or other events on campus, GW parking garages are available.  All GW parking garages are wheelchair accessible


Water Stations

Graduates and guests should bring a reusable water bottle to the ceremony. There are several water stations available at the National Mall Commencement site.

In Case of Emergency

University Commencement is held rain or shine on the National Mall, unless we are directed to move by the National Park Service or if conditions do not allow us to safely conduct the ceremony as planned. If an emergency should develop during the ceremony, the U.S. Park Police will declare an emergency. Follow the directions of U.S. Park Police and site staff and proceed to the nearest public building.  If you need assistance, site staff will help you.

If the ceremony moves to an alternate site, all graduates and members of the platform party should report to the Charles E. Smith Center, 600 22nd Street, NW.  For alternate site plan information, please visit

Families and guests would watch the full ceremony online on the Commencement website homepage.

In the event of a change to Commencement on the National Mall, information will be posted to Updates and changes will also be communicated via GW Alert (text and email), the GW homepage, GW Information Line at 202-994-5050, and on social media (Twitter and Facebook).

Free Expression and Reasonable Limitations 

Colleges and universities are laboratories for social and intellectual growth; activism, engagement, and freedom of expression are essential for these things. This freedom extends to students and faculty and encompasses diverse viewpoints, including those that are objectionable or offensive to some.

Free expression, however, is not unlimited. Speech may be regulated when it is obscene, involves true threats (serious or intentional threats of violence directed at specific individuals), incites violence, or involves illegal conduct. In addition, speech is not protected when it rises to the level of prohibited harassment based on a person’s protected characteristic (examples include age, disability, ethnicity/national origin, gender, race, religion/faith tradition, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, and many others) as defined by state, local, and federal anti-discrimination laws and university policies. Finally, speech may be regulated in a way that focuses on reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions that are not based on the content of the speech. One example of such time, place, and manner restrictions is that the university prohibits speech that disrupts university activities or operations or threatens, endangers, or harasses others.

At School Ceremonies: If an individual or group attempts to disrupt a ceremony and/or use any of the prohibited items, an event representative will issue a warning and ask the individual(s) to discontinue the disruptive behavior or leave. If the disruption continues, they will be told to leave immediately or they will be removed by law enforcement.

On the National Mall: The location for University Commencement on the National Mall has been reserved by the university through an agreement with the National Park Service. Those who wish to express their First Amendment rights will be directed by the United States Park Police to a separate First Amendment Zone at a nearby location on the National Mall. This follows National Park Service protocols that keep ceremonial events scheduled as planned while allowing individuals to express their opinions.

Inside the perimeter of the University Commencement ceremony, if an individual or group attempts to disrupt the ceremony and/or uses any of the prohibited items, an event representative will issue a warning and ask the individual(s) to discontinue the disruptive behavior or leave. If the disruption continues, they will be told to leave immediately or they will be removed by law enforcement.

Prohibited Items

Guests and graduates are prohibited from bringing the following into the event space on the National Mall and at all on-campus ceremonies, receptions, and events before, during, and after Commencement:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Aerosols
  • Ammunition
  • Amplified sound devices, e.g.: noisemakers, bullhorns, megaphones, speakers 
  • Bags larger than 18” x 6” x 8” (permitted bags are subject to search)
  • Balloons
  • Explosives
  • Firearms
  • Fireworks
  • Flags
  • Glass containers
  • Laser pointers
  • Mace/pepper spray
  • Structures, e.g.: folding tables, chairs, tents, etc.
  • Signage, e.g.: posters, banners, flyers and any item that could obstruct the view of guests and graduates 
    • Note: At the National Mall, the university will provide an approved Commencement-themed fan/sun blocker.
  • Supports for signs
  • Unmanned aerial systems, e.g.: drones, remote control aircraft
  • Weapons 
  • Any other item determined to be a potential hazard

More Info

In the event of inclement weather, umbrellas are allowed only outside of the guest seating area. We suggest that guests in the seating area bring ponchos or other wearable rain gear instead.

Packages are permissible, but subject to inspection.

Share Your Day

Capture and share moments from Commencement on the National Mall and other graduation events! Be sure to use the hashtag #GWCommencement. Tag GW on Instagram @gwuniversity, on X (formerly Twitter) @GWtweets, or on Facebook at the George Washington University.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions on the Commencement website.