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Commencement Details

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 28

University Commencement brings together students from all of the George Washington University's (GW) schools for the celebration of their degrees. Graduates rise as their degrees are announced by their deans and celebrated by President Thomas J. LeBlanc.

As part of the October Commencement program, we are delighted to be joined in-person and virtually by several speakers and awardees. Senator Elizabeth Warren will provide an in-person keynote address and receive an honorary degree. Board of Trustees Chair Emeritus Nelson A. Carbonell, Jr., B.S. ‘85, also will receive an honorary degree in person.

Additionally, the university will award the President's Medal to three individuals: Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and GW Professors Cindy Liu and Andrew Maurano.  The university learned recently that due to the demands of his schedule Dr. Fauci will participate in the celebration through video remarks. Professors Liu and Maurano will join the event in-person.

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Commencement Day Schedule

We are thrilled to invite our Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 graduates and their families to the National Mall for University Commencement on Saturday, October 2, 2021. The schedule for the day is: 

8:00 a.m. Commencement site access begins

9:30 a.m. Graduates should arrive wearing their regalia and line up by school

9:30 a.m. Faculty should arrive wearing their regalia and report to the backstage area

10:00 a.m. All guests should be seated

10:30 a.m. Academic processions begin

11:00 a.m. Ceremony begins

12:30 p.m. Ceremony concludes

 

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Program

At 10:30am, the academic procession begins, and graduates will process in and be seated with their schools or colleges. The ceremony begins at 11:00am. The program is scheduled to last approximately 90 minutes. 

 

Commencement Program (PDF)

 

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Commencement Map 

A One-of-a-kind Location for Your Big Day (PDF)

GW is the only university in Washington, D.C., to host Commencement on the National Mall. Surrounded by the iconic memorials and monuments of the Mall, graduates will gather together one last time in celebration with their friends and family. 

Graduate Line-ups and Seating

All graduates should enter from 7th Street SW to check in when arriving at the National Mall on Saturday, October 2. Graduates must bring a face mask or covering and show one of the following in order to check in:

  • Centuries Celebration Weekend credential
  • Vaccination card (or a photo of it) that provides proof that you are fully vaccinated plus photo identification
  • Documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result dated no more than 72 hours before Sunday, October 2 plus photo identification
  • GW Medical Portal clearance badge (for current GW students, faculty, and staff) plus photo identification

After checking in, you will be directed to the graduate staging area. Look for the sign with your school’s name and prepare to line up for the procession. Your school will assemble and process to its assigned seating area once the ceremony begins. Please see more information about check-in below.

Guest Seating

Please see more information about guest check-in below.

Guest seating is available to families and guests on a general admission basis after clearance at checkpoints. ADA seating is also available in guest seating for anyone with limited mobility or a wheelchair user plus one guest. Ushers will be available to assist with seating. All guests should be seated, clear of all aisles, to allow graduates to process in a safe, orderly, and timely manner by 10:00 a.m.

Transportation and Parking

Please see the Plan Your Visit page on the Centuries Celebration Weekend website for information about transportation to the National Mall and parking.

Accessibility

GW is committed to providing an accessible experience. Please check the FAQs for more information about accessibility.

We are offering ADA transportation support to the National Mall beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday from the University Student Center parking lot entrance on H Street. These smaller size vehicles will offer a more private option, dropping off at the ADA drop off point on the National Mall, closest to ADA seating. The shuttles will return guests immediately after the ceremony to the University Student Center. Please be mindful that the University Student Center parking garage is scheduled to close at 3pm due to the scheduled road closure. If you would like to utilize this source of transportation, please contact Disability Support Services at 202-994-8250 to register. Masks are required to be worn at all times when utilizing GW transportation.

Prohibited Items

The following items are prohibited on the National Mall:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Aerosols
  • Ammunition
  • Balloons
  • Banners
  • Explosives
  • Firearms
  • Fireworks
  • Glass containers
  • Laser Pointers
  • Mace/Pepper Spray
  • Structures (folding tables, chairs, tents, etc.)
  • Signs and supports for signs
  • Unmanned Aerial System (Drones, Remote Control Aircraft)
  • Weapons of Any Kind
  • Any other item determined to be a potential hazard

Packages are permissible, but subject to inspection.

 

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Check-In

To make your check-in process as smooth as possible, please review the information below prior to your arrival.

COVID-19 Health and Safety

All attendees are required to wear a mask while on the National Mall. For more information about the safety protocols, visit the COVID-19 Safety page.

Checking in at Commencement

There will be multiple checkpoints for guest and graduate entry on the National Mall for the Commencement Ceremony. Look for the entrance arches at each of the locations outlined below and see the above map

It is important that all attendees arrive at Commencement with a mask or face covering fully covering the nose and mouth. If you picked up your Centuries Celebration Weekend credential at the University Student Center’s Welcome Center before arriving at Commencement, you will be able to access fast track lines. If you have not picked up your credential yet, you will need to show proof of full vaccination or a recent COVID-19 negative test result to proceed past the checkpoint. COVID-19 screening requirements are applicable at all Commencement ceremony checkpoints, including the graduates-only checkpoint. 

Attendees who have not already picked up a Centuries Celebration Weekend credential at the Welcome Center must produce the following:

  • Government-issued photo ID (attendees aged 18+ only)
  • Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival (attendees aged 3+ only) 

Following Commencement, if you plan to attend additional Centuries Celebration Weekend events, you will need to proceed to the Welcome Center at the University Student Center to pick up your credential. You will be fast-tracked due to having proof of vaccination or a negative test from checking in at Commencement.

Check-in points

Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 graduates are requested to check in on 7th Street NW between Madison and Jefferson Drives. This is a graduate only check point. Graduates will be directed to line up for procession from there. 

Other guests are invited to enter Commencement at one of four checkpoints, as detailed on the Commencement map:

 

Coming from the North:

  • 12th Street NW and Madison Drive
  • Madison Drive at the South entrance to the National Museum of Natural History

 

Coming from the South:

  • 12th Street NW and Jefferson Drive (entrance closest to the Smithsonian Metro)
  • Jefferson Drive at the North entrance to the Smithsonian Castle

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Livestream

Unable to attend in person? The ceremony can be viewed live at commencement.gwu.edu.

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In Case of Emergency

This event is held rain or shine, but if the National Park Service determines it is not safe to allow guests on the National Mall due to potential severe inclement weather, we will attempt to hold the ceremony on Sunday, October 3 at 11:00. Participants should check the Commencement website periodically on October 2 for the latest information.