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History and Traditions of Penn's Commencement

Historical Commencement Notes

From the 18th century to today, see how Penn's Commencement ceremony has evolved over the years.

Academic Regalia

Learn the history of the cap, gown and hood.

Commencement Programs

Selected University of Pennsylvania Commencement Programs are available on-line in PDF (Portable Document File) format. Included are the opening pages or entire programs for June commencements from 1925 to the present as well as entire programs for selected earlier years.

Visit University Archives & Records

Penn's Commencement Speakers Since 1938

View the list of Penn’s Commencement speakers from 1938 to present. Speakers include such varied and prestigious names such as creator of the Broadway smash Hamilton Lin-Manuel Miranda (2016), Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (2013), Chairman of Google (now Alphabet) Eric E. Schmidt (2009), musical artist and activist Bono (2004), and former First Lady Barbara Bush (1990). Plus many, many more.

Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees have been awarded to Thomas Paine (in 1780), George Washington (in 1783), the Marquis de Lafayette (in 1787), Walter Annenberg (in 1966), Benjamin Franklin (posthumously in 1976), and many others.