Three students in GW graduation clothing

Frequently Asked Questions

The information below pertains to the graduation celebration being held in October 2021.


separator line

What is the October 2 University Commencement on the National Mall?

University Commencement takes place on the National Mall and is open to all 2020 and 2021 graduates, from associate's, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs, to come and celebrate their achievements. This event requires tickets and includes remarks from GW leadership and other speakers. Registration for Commencement tickets closed on Aug 31, 2021.

How is this Commencement on the National Mall different from the May 2020 or 2021 virtual celebrations?

The university-wide virtual celebrations allowed the university to confer degrees and host school and college events as scheduled on the university’s academic calendar. This in-person event on October 2 is the celebration previously promised to graduates that will allow the Classes of 2020 and 2021 to celebrate their achievements in-person with friends, family, and the GW community. It is part of the GW Centuries Celebration Weekend that will be celebrated from October 1-3, 2021.


separator line

Commencement on the National Mall

When and where is the ceremony on the National Mall taking place?

We will celebrate the Classes of 2020 and 2021 in-person on the National Mall on Saturday, October 2 at 11am between 7th and 14th Streets. Please see our Commencement Details for more information about the site.

Will there be separate ceremonies for the Classes of 2020 and 2021?  

In order to celebrate this milestone occasion for all graduates who opt to return, we will host one special event that will provide an exciting, engaging experience for all. This joint event will recognize the achievements of each class individually.

In addition to the ceremony on the National Mall, will there be individual school and college celebrations?

The university does not plan to hold school and college graduation celebrations in October. 

Which graduates are being invited to participate in the ceremony on the National Mall?

All graduates from the Classes of 2020 and 2021, both undergraduate and graduate, are invited to participate in this ceremony.  This includes all graduates from Summer 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021.

Please note that graduates from Fall 2021 are considered part of the Class of 2022 cohort and are invited to participate in Commencement in May 2022.

Can I still register to participate in the ceremony on the National Mall?

Please note that registration for Commencement closed on August 31, 2021.

Will guests be able to attend?

Class of 2020 and 2021 graduates who have registered for Commencement may bring up to four guests. The registration system provided an opportunity to submit their details at the time of your registration. If you plan on bringing guests but did not submit their details when you registered, please contact [email protected].

I am an alum from a class other than 2020 and 2021. Can I attend the Commencement ceremony on the National Mall as a guest?  Do I need a ticket?

Alumni from previous graduating classes are welcome to attend Commencement on the National Mall as registered guests of 2020 or 2021 graduates. 

Are graduates’ names announced at Commencement? Will graduates get to walk across the stage?

Names are not announced and graduates do not walk across the stage at Commencement. Names were announced during individual school and college celebrations for the classes of 2020 and 2021.

Will there be faculty and administration participation? 

GW faculty and administrators were invited to register for Commencement on the National Mall.

When should graduates and guests arrive at Commencement?

Graduates should arrive at the graduate staging area dressed in their regalia by 9:30am and can look for their school flag to line up for the procession. Please see here for a map of the Mall with a graduation cap marking the graduate staging area. The academic procession will begin promptly at 10:30 a.m. 

Guests can arrive as early as 8:00 a.m. and must be seated by 10:00 a.m. 

Will there be a Commencement speaker?

We are honored to welcome Senator Elizabeth Warren, ATT ‘66-’68, to deliver the keynote address at Commencement this year.

Will there be a student speaker from the Classes of 2020 and 2021?

We are pleased to welcome SJ Matthews, B.A. ‘20, and Naseem Haamid, B.A. ‘21, as our Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 speakers.

Can I bring my pet to the National Mall for Commencement?

Please note that only service animals are permitted on the National Mall.

What happens if there is inclement weather on Commencement day?

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 a.m. Program participants should check the Commencement website periodically before you leave your home on October 2 for the latest information.

Will GW cover costs for graduates who need to travel back to D.C. for Commencement?

We have negotiated with hotels to provide discounted lodging. Please see hotel information below. 

Hotel Information

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.

In addition, we have worked with Destination DC to secure blocks of rooms at several hotels for October 1 and October 2. See the hotel list below for details.

separator line

COVID-19 Health & Safety

Where can I find out more information about COVID-19 policies for the Centuries Celebration Weekend?

Detailed information about health and safety protocols are available on the Centuries Weekend website.

I no longer wish to attend Commencement on the National Mall for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 or GW Centuries Celebration Weekend. Can I cancel my registration?

You can cancel your registration by using the Update Registration link provided in your confirmation email. Please contact [email protected] if you have questions.

What if I am not able to meet the vaccine or negative test requirement?

We appreciate your desire to participate in these events, however, our health and safety protocols preclude us from admitting anyone who does not meet our protocols. 

For individuals interested in watching Commencement, it will be live streamed on the Commencement homepage on the day of the event. Following the live streaming of the event, a video recording will be posted on the Commencement website and social media soon after the original airing.

Are there prohibited items on the National Mall?

The following items are prohibited on the National Mall:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Aerosols
  • Ammunition
  • Balloons
  • Explosives
  • Firearms
  • Fireworks
  • Glass containers
  • Laser Pointers
  • Mace/Pepper Spray
  • Structures (folding tables, chairs, tents, etc.)
  • 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.


separator line

Regalia and Keepsakes

Is regalia required to attend the event on the National Mall?

Regalia for University Commencement is encouraged but not required. 

Where can I find more information about regalia purchase or rental?

The Academic Dress (Regalia) page has more information about ordering regalia.

What is the last day I can order regalia in order to receive it in time for the ceremony on October 2?

You must order regalia by the dates below in order to have it in time:

Bachelor or Master - September 10

Doctoral Rental Regalia - September 10

Doctoral Custom Purchase - August 17

J.D. Regalia Rental - August 13

I rented regalia for the virtual celebrations in May. Can I hold onto it until after the October 2 ceremony?

Herff Jones is allowing all 2021 doctoral and law graduates to hold onto their regalia at no additional cost until Tuesday, October 19 in order to accommodate those who may consider attending the in-person event. 

How and when do I return doctoral rental regalia?

Regalia returns are due back to the Herff Jones plant by Tuesday, October 19. A prepaid label will be included in your shipment for you to return your regalia.

If I rented regalia previously and sent it back to Herff Jones, will GW cover the cost of a new rental for the in-person celebration?   

Regalia rental costs are the responsibility of the graduate. Please note that regalia is encouraged but not required for participation in Commencement on the National Mall in October.

Can I still order keepsakes?

Herff Jones, Inc. offers several graduation keepsakes including personalized announcements to send to your family and friends, diploma frames to display your diploma, and class rings to showcase your GW affiliation.  

The GW Campus Store offers alumni clothing and gifts.

Where do I find information about cords, medals, certificates, or pins?

For more information contact your school or society.


separator line


Accessibility at the National Mall

The ADA seating area is reserved for guests who are wheelchair users or who have limited mobility, plus one guest. There will be a designated ADA drop-off/pick-up area on Madison Avenue between 7th and 12th streets. The drop-off/pick-up area is located within close proximity to the ADA seating area on the mall. A downloadable sitemap with the ADA drop-off/pick-up and seating area is available here.

Are there accommodations for graduates with wheelchairs?

At Commencement on the National Mall, there will be a designated ADA drop-off/pick-up area. All the major monuments and memorials are wheelchair accessible. 

Are there accommodations for guests with wheelchairs?

At Commencement on the National Mall, there will be a section of reserved seating for guests who are wheelchair users or who have limited mobility, plus one guest. You may reserve a space during registration. Commencement staff will be on-site to assist. 

Will the Commencement ceremony be captioned?

Yes. For both in-person and online participants, captioning will be available in English for the University Commencement Ceremony.

Will there be sign language interpreters available?

Sign language interpreters are provided at Commencement on the National Mall. If a graduate and/or guest needs to be seated near one, please submit this accommodation request during registration. If you are petitioning for late Commencement registration after the August 31 deadline, please note this accommodation request in your petition (NOTE: While we will do our best to accommodate all late petitions, we cannot guarantee registration after the August 31 deadline.) 

Is there ADA transportation available from the Foggy Bottom campus to the National Mall?

We are offering ADA transportation support beginning at 8:30 a.m. from the University Student Center parking lot entrance. 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 on H Street. Please be mindful that the University Student Center parking garage is scheduled to close at 3:00 p.m. due to the scheduled road closure. If you would like to utilize this source of transportation, please contact DSS at 202-994-8250 to register. Masks are required to be worn at all times when utilizing GW transportation.

How can I add or update a request for accommodation after I register?

If you need to add or update an accommodation request after you register for Commencement, please email [email protected]

Can I bring my service animal?

When participating in GW commencement ceremonies, service animals are permitted on the National Mall. For additional information on Service Animals on campus, please refer to GW's Assistance Animals Guidelines.

How do I get more information about accessibility resources?

Accessibility for all members of the community, including graduates and guests, is a priority for GW. Visit Disability Support Services and GW Parking Services for additional information. 

separator line

Celebrating Online

What if I can’t attend the in-person ceremony on the National Mall?

University Commencement 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.

What if I can’t tune in for the Commencement live stream? 

Following the live streaming of the event, a video recording will be posted on the Commencement website for later viewing. Recordings will be posted soon after the original airing.