Frequently Asked Questions
A useful reference for Penn's Commencement information.
When and where is Commencement?
The 263rd University of Pennsylvania Commencement ceremony will take place on Monday, May 20, 2019 at 10:15 a.m. at Franklin Field, on the corner of 33rd and South Streets. The ceremony will end at approximately noon. The ceremony will feature the conferral of degrees, the award of honorary degrees, greetings by University officials, and remarks by the Commencement speaker, Bryan Stevenson, Public interest lawyer and author; Founder and Executive Director, The Equal Justice Initiative which in 2018 created the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
What is the difference between Commencement, Baccalaureate, and the individual school ceremonies?
Students in all 12 of Penn's undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs are invited to attend the Commencement ceremony. The ceremony will feature the conferral of degrees, the awarding of honorary degrees, greetings by University officials, and remarks by the Commencement speaker.
The Baccalaureate ceremony is a 50-minute interfaith program, featuring music, prayers, and readings. This ceremony is held on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 1:30 and 3:00 p.m. Students with last names beginning with A through K are invited to attend the 1:30 p.m. ceremony, while students with last names beginning with L through Z are invited to attend the 3:00 p.m. ceremony.
In addition to the Commencement and Baccalaureate ceremonies, each school also hosts a ceremony for the students enrolled in that particular school. During this ceremony, the student's name will be called and he/she will walk across the stage. For information on the school ceremonies, visit the School Ceremonies page.
How can I get tickets for the ceremonies?
Tickets are not required for the University Commencement ceremony. If you require special seating due to a wheelchair, limited physical mobility or other medical conditions, please visit another Penn web site, Disability Seating for more information.
Tickets may be required for individual school ceremonies. Students should contact their home school to obtain ticket information for their school ceremonies.
What should guests attending Commencement wear?
Commencement is held outdoors, rain or shine, so be prepared for all types of weather.
What happens if it rains during Commencement?
Commencement will be held rain or shine. However, for the safety of graduates and guests, severe weather conditions may require the cancellation of the student procession across campus or the delay of the ceremony.
In dangerous weather conditions, the ceremony may be relocated indoors to the Palestra, where seating would be limited to the academic procession and graduating students. In the case of this relocation, students should report to the Palestra no later than 9:30 a.m. Please know that the decision to move the Commencement ceremony indoors would be made in only extreme conditions.
If weather requires changes to the Commencement ceremony schedule, information will be found on:
- Signs at Hamilton Village and around campus
- Announcements on (215) 898-MELT and (215) 898-7006
- Announcements on radio station KYW (1060 AM)
- A notice on this website
Do you have wheelchairs available for guests at Franklin Field?
The stadium does not have wheelchairs available for use. Motorized scooters and wheelchairs are permitted at Franklin Field. If anyone in your party uses a wheelchair, please bring it with you.
Are refreshments available at Franklin Field commencement morning?
Yes. Refreshments can be purchased at the concession stands.
Will diplomas be distributed at Commencement?
Some diplomas will be distributed at the school ceremonies, not during Commencement. The following programs and schools will distribute their diplomas at their graduation ceremonies:
- School of Dental Medicine
- Law School
- Perelman School of Medicine – M.D.'s only
- School of Veterinary Medicine
What events am I required to attend?
Attendance is not mandatory for any of the graduation festivities.
Do graduates have to wear academic regalia to participate in Commencement?
Yes. Regalia is required for all participating in the ceremony and can be purchased or rented from the Penn Bookstore.
What is Graduation Fair? What happens if I miss it?
Grad Fair usually takes place April 16 - 18, 2019 at the Penn Bookstore. The Grad Fair provides the opportunity for degree candidates to acquire their academic regalia as well as graduation announcements, class rings, and diploma frames. As a reminder, all graduates must purchase or rent regalia to participate in the graduation festivities. Doctoral, JD, and LLM students have the option to either purchase or rent their regalia, while all other students should purchase their regalia. Information about the Grad Fair is sent by the Penn Bookstore in early spring.
If you miss Grad Fair, you should contact the Bookstore directly to rent or purchase your regalia.
Can I decorate my cap for the University Commencement ceremony?
Penn does not sanction the decorating of caps.
As an August or December graduate, can I participate in the graduation ceremonies?
August 2018 and December 2018 graduates are welcome to participate in the May 2019 Commencement ceremony. Remember that you do not have to register to participate in the university-wide Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 20, 2019. Just arrive at Hamilton Village wearing regalia no later than 8:45 a.m. As far as participating in school ceremonies, please contact your individual school about participating in that ceremony.
What other activities are happening during graduation weekend?
The graduation festivities also coincide with Alumni Weekend. If you are a Penn alumnus, please visit the Penn Alumni page for more information.
When is the 2020 Commencement ceremony? 2021?
Penn's 264th Commencement will be held on Monday, May 18, 2020.
Penn's 265th Commencement will be held on Monday, May 17, 2021.
Are there restrictions on items I can bring into Franklin Field?
The following items are prohibited from Franklin Field:
- Bottles and cans
- Fireworks/open flames
- Animals, except for service animals
- Smoking is also not allowed in the stadium