Frequently Asked Questions
The information below pertains to Commencement Week 2023.
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Commencement on the National Mall
What is Commencement on the National Mall?
University Commencement brings together students from all of The George Washington University's (GW) schools for the conferral of their degrees. The ceremony takes place on the National Mall and is open to all 2023 graduates, from bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs, to come and celebrate their achievements. This event includes remarks from GW leadership and other speakers. View the digital Commencement program (PDF).
When and where is the Commencement Ceremony taking place?
We will celebrate the Class of 2023 on Sunday, May 21, 2023, on the National Mall at 10:30 am. Graduates must be seated by 10:15 am. Visit the Commencement details page for a National Mall site map.
I am a summer or fall graduate. When is my graduation ceremony?
The university invites summer 2022, fall 2022, spring 2023, and summer 2023 graduates to participate in May 2023 graduation events. As the only institution to hold university-wide Commencement on the National Mall, GW is proud to devote its resources to offering graduates this #OnlyAtGW opportunity of a lifetime each May, the traditional time of year for university commencements. Summer, fall, and spring graduates are also invited to attend school and college celebrations in May, where they will walk across the stage and be recognized individually for their achievements. It is at the discretion of schools and departments to hold specific events for summer or fall graduates.
How do I notify the university that I plan to participate in Commencement Week events including school celebrations and Commencement on the National Mall?
Students must submit a graduation application and graduation survey to be eligible to register for Commencement Week events. You must have either completed your degree requirements, or be enrolled in classes that will complete those requirements, to submit the graduation application. The graduation survey will open March 23, 2023.
Registering for Commencement Week events is the only notice needed for your participation. For more information about registration, please see that section below.
Who is the Commencement Speaker for 2023?
Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, will be the Commencement speaker for 2023.
Why isn’t Bryan Stevenson’s speech posted online?
It was stipulated by Mr. Stevenson that GW would not be permitted to publicly post the video of his remarks online after Commencement. Based on the terms of the agreement, we are able to post video of his remarks for viewing only by our students (including recent graduates), faculty and staff for two weeks following the event. For those with access to myGW, the speech is available for viewing through June 9, 2023.
Who is the student Commencement Speaker?
We invited the Class of 2023 to enter the Student Speaker Competition for a chance to address their classmates, and other members of the GW community, at Commencement on the National Mall—an #OnlyatGW opportunity of a lifetime.
Giselle Elisa Garcia has been selected to address the Class of 2023 and other guests at Commencement on the National Mall. Read more here.
What are School Celebrations?
All schools and colleges will host a celebratory experience for their graduating students. Graduating students will receive individual recognition, including having their names announced, walking across the stage, and having an individual photo taken, during these celebrations, and they will hear from school leaders and other prestigious speakers.
When and where will School Celebrations occur?
Please visit the Commencement Week Schedule for dates, times, and locations of school and college celebrations.
When does registration open?
Registration for Commencement Week events, including Commencement on the National Mall, is now open for the Class of 2023, faculty and staff. Students who had their degree awarded in summer 2022 or will complete all their degree requirements in the fall of 2022, spring of 2023, or summer of 2023, are eligible to participate in school celebrations and Commencement in May. They must register themselves and their guests to attend Commencement Week events. Registration will close on May 12, 2023.
Who needs to register?
Tickets are required for all guests who will be older than 2 years of age by Commencement Week 2023. Any guest who will be 2 years old or younger does not require a ticket and must sit in the lap of a ticketed guest.
Regalia and Keepsakes
Where can I find more information about regalia purchase or rental?
All students participating in school celebrations and Commencement on the National Mall must wear regalia. Active service members may wear their dress uniform in lieu of regalia. Graduates may order regalia online through April 13; students are not required to purchase from the university’s preferred vendor(*).
Can I order keepsakes?
The GW Campus Store offers alumni clothing and gifts.
Why have I received (or not received) information about the yearbook?
The Cherry Tree yearbook offers portrait appointments through its website. It is an independent student organization that is not affiliated with University Events. If you feel that you received a message from them in error, or were excluded from their mailing list, please visit their website for contact information.
(*) If students choose to wear regalia from another vendor, gowns should be black or navy blue.
Plan Your Visit
There are many options for lodging across the D.C. area, including some options that are close to the National Mall. Be sure to ask any hotel if they offer a discount for the weekend of GW’s Commencement.
The George Washington University is conveniently located in the heart of Washington, D.C., close to three major airports, including Ronald Reagan Washington National, Washington Dulles International, and Baltimore Washington International, as well as to Union Station.
Metro, taxi, rideshare, and Capital Bikeshare are available to help you navigate Foggy Bottom and the National Mall. Stay tuned for additional information in the spring.
Letters of Invitation can be used by current students to invite friends or family members to the United States. Students must have applied for graduation to request a letter of invitation for the graduation ceremony.
For more information, and to request a letter of invitation, visit the Office of the Registrar's website.
GW is committed to providing universal access to all of our events. Please visit the accessibility page for more information.
What if I can’t attend the in-person ceremonies on the National Mall and for schools and colleges?
Commencement on the National Mall will be live-streamed on the web and social media on the day of the event. Viewing options will be posted on the Commencement homepage on the day of the event.
School and college celebrations will be live-streamed on the web and available on their Commencement pages on the day of the event.
What if I can’t tune in for the Commencement or school and college celebration live streams?
Following the live streaming of the event, video recordings will be posted on the Commencement website and school and college pages for later viewing. Recordings will be posted soon after the original airing.
COVID-19 Health and Safety
What are GW’s COVID-19 protocols during Commencement Week?
We ask all of our guests to self-monitor for COVID symptoms throughout the week. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms before or during your arrival to campus, please stay home and/or seek medical attention.
Currently, masks are not required for indoor Commencement events, and while the university encourages guests to be vaccinated and fully boosted, visitors are not required to produce proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. We will continue to monitor transmission rates of COVID-19 on our campuses and in the region, and we will review and adjust our public health guidelines as necessary. For more information on GW’s COVID-19 health protocols, visit coronavirus.gwu.edu.