Frequently Asked Questions
The information below pertains to Commencement Week 2024.
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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 2024 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.
When and where is Commencement taking place?
We will celebrate the Class of 2024 on Sunday, May 19, on the National Mall at 10:30 am. Graduates must be seated by 10:15 am. More details about graduate and guest arrivals will be available in the spring semester.
I am a summer or fall graduate. When is my graduation ceremony?
The university invites summer 2023, fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 graduates to participate in graduation events. As the only institution to hold a 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 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 opens in Spring 2024.
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 2024?
The university will share information about the 2024 Commencement Speaker at a later date.
Who is the student Commencement Speaker?
We invite the Class of 2024 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.
Eligible candidates may apply to participate beginning on Monday, January 22, 2024. To enter the competition, graduating students must submit:
- A biography (maximum 150 words)
- Text of the speech you would deliver at Commencement if you are selected
- Vimeo or YouTube link of you delivering your speech (maximum length of three minutes)
Ten applicants’ videos will be judged by GW students in an online public voting round. Up to five finalists will be invited to a live audition, in person or via Zoom, in front of a committee of judges from the GW community.
The Commencement student speaker will receive:
- Four seats in the reserved seating section at Commencement on the National Mall
- A photo with the Commencement speaker and members of the university’s leadership
- The deadline to submit materials has been extended to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, February 25, 2024.
What are School Celebrations?
All schools and colleges will host a celebratory experience for their graduating students in May. Graduating students will receive individual recognition, including having their names announced, walking across the stage, and having an individual photo taken. These celebrations include remarks 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, will open in March for the Class of 2024, faculty and staff. Students who had their degree awarded in summer 2023 or will complete all their degree requirements in the fall of 2023, spring of 2024, or summer of 2024, are eligible to participate in school celebrations and Commencement. They must register themselves and their guests to attend Commencement Week events.
Who needs to register?
Tickets are required for all guests who will be 2 years of age, or older, by Commencement Week 2024. Any guest who will be younger than 2 years old 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 2; 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. The request must include the proper spelling of each visitor's name and his or her relationship to the student requesting the letter.
For more information, and to request a letter of invitation, visit the Office of the Registrar's website.
- Click on the “Request for Certification Services” link
- Under "Request Type", select "Letters We Can Write"
- Under "Letters We Can Write", select "Invitation Letter"
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.