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Commencement Ceremony FAQs

Congratulations! Commencement is right around the corner. Please review the frequently asked questions below and contact your division's representative if you have any further questions.



Commencement Ceremony FAQ's


What should I wear? Back to Top

All graduates must wear academic regalia, which consists of cap, gown and hood, for the Commencement ceremony.  Business attire is appropriate under the gown.  Dress shoes are required.  Avoid uncomfortable shoes or extreme high-heeled shoes as navigation of stairs and carpeted areas is required.  Graduates may also wear any university-approved honor society cords, pins and Notre Dame medals.  There are no cords for Latin Honors; however, students with Latin Honors will have them announced as their names are read during the ceremony.


What if I forget my cap, gown, tassels or hood? Back to Top

Don't.  However, if you do by chance forget regalia items, a representative of the bookstore will be at the ceremony with replacement regalia for CASH ONLY purchases.


Where do I go and when should I get there? Back to Top

This year's Commencement will be held at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel in downtown Baltimore.  Please come to the 2nd floor of the Hilton Baltimore Hotel, Key Ballroom--West Lobby, the morning of Saturday, May 23rd.  Check-in time begins at 8:15 a.m.  If you would like informal photographs, GradImages will be available at 8:00 a.m. in the lobby.


What should my family and guests do? Back to Top

The doors to the Hilton Baltimore Hotel's Key Ballroom will open at 8:00 a.m. for guests. 

Only guests with Commencement tickets will be admitted.  This includes infants and small children, regardless if they will be sitting on a guest's lap. Sitting is on a first-come, first-served basis.  If special seating accommodations are required, please contact Laura Mathabel, Director of Disability Support Services, at 410-532-5401 or by email at lmathabel@ndm.edu as soon as possible.

No balloons, air horns or other noise makers are permitted inside the facility. 

Guests must be in their seats by 9:30 a.m. when the Processional begins.  No one will be permitted into the ballroom until all graduates have processed into the ballroom.


How do I check-in? Back to Top

Please report to the West Ballroom Lobby, where you will see check-in tables with signs showing which letters of the alphabet each table covers.  Go to the appropriate table (according to your last name) and receive a card.  The card will list your name as it appears on your diploma, Latin Honors (if applicable), and your number to be used when lining up for the processional.  DO NOT LOSE THIS CARD. You will hold onto this card during the processional--and at your seat--and will hand it to the reader before your name is announced.  Please do not add or erase any notations on the card.  If your card is incorrect, please notify a staff member who will direct you to the Registrar to make any necessary changes.

Once you have received your card, please locate your major's department.  (Please note:  If you have a role in the ceremony, you will not line up with your departments as you will be processing in immediately following the Student Marshal)


How do I line up? Back to Top

Women's College and College of Adult Undergraduate Studies graduates will line up together. Masters Graduates will line up by School in numerical order based on the number printed on the card received at check-in. Your department chairs will be there to assist you.  You should be in place in line by 9:00 a.m.  Please be patient and courteous during this important process.


Can I leave the check-in/line-up area? Back to Top

Not after you go in.  There are bathrooms inside the check-in/line-up area, and there will be bobby pins and safety pins available.  No family members or guests are allowed in these areas.


Can I leave my stuff in the check-in/line-up areas? Back to Top

No. Security will not be provided in the check-in area. Purses, cell phones, pagers and all other personal belongings must be left with family/friends. Please dispose of gum, food or drink before lining up.


What do I do with my card? Back to Top

Guard your card! You will need it during the ceremony.  Do not add or delete anything on the card.  If you feel there is an error, please check with the Registrar as only they are permitted to make any adjustments.

During the ceremony, the student marshal and ushers will direct one row of graduates at a time to approach the stage.  This is when you will present your card to the reader.  After you have handed your card to the reader, immediately proceed to the center of the stage where you will meet the President.  Do not wait for your name to be called as it will be called once you reach center stage.


What's the proper way to wear my cap and gown? Back to Top

When you process in, drape your hood over your left arm.  All graduates will be hooded as part of the ceremony. 

The point of the cap aligns with your nose.  Tassels are laid to the left of the cap prior to the ceremony. 

Honor society cords and university-approved medals are permitted.


When and how are we processing into the ballroom? Back to Top

At 9:20 a.m., the student marshal will lead two lines to the lobby:  one for undergraduates studies and one for graduates studies.  All graduates will be lined up by department (Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, etc.).  After the ringing of the bells, the student marshal will lead the procession into the ballroom.  This part of the ceremony is essentially "follow the leader".  You will sit in the center sections in front of the stage.  Follow the student marshal and commencement staff as they will indicate when to start a new row.  It will be a tight fit!  Squeeze in!  Please follow directions quickly and quietly.


What happens during the ceremony? Back to Top

When you reach your seat, remain standing for the Invocation and America the Beautiful until both are completed.  Your programs will be on your seats.  You will sit for the next part.  When asked for candidates, for example, of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences to rise, get up!  A baccalaureate will then go up to the stage to be hooded by President Yam. While she does this, all undergraduate studies graduates will put on their hoods, too. Please help each other out through this hooding process.  All masters and doctorate graduates will be hooded by faculty, either prior to walking across stage or on stage.


What's the procedure for going on stage and getting my degree? Back to Top

Undergraduate students will be the first to receive their degrees followed by MA/MS graduates, School of Pharmacy and Phd graduates.  

Graduates will go directly from your seats to the stage.  Just follow your department chair!  The ushers will direct one row of graduates at a time to process around the far right side of the ballroom and then approach the right side of the stage.  You will be in line behind your department chair.  Go up the stair or ramp and hand your card to the reader, who will be standing next to the podium.  As soon as you hand over your card, immediately begin walking toward the center of the stage to the President.  The reader will hand your card to your department chair, who will read your name and any honors. Make sure to take the diploma cover with your left hand and shake the president's hand with your right hand.  You will then proceed across the stage, down the stairs, and you will be directed back to your seat.  School of Pharmacy and PhD graduates will be hooded on stage by faculty.


How can I get pictures? Back to Top

GradImages will take pictures of graduates as they receive their diplomas from President Yam and after they leave the stage. No one will be permitted near the stage to take photos during the ceremony.  There will be a designated area for guest to take photographs.  Photo order information was distributed to your homes with the Commencement brochure.  Information is also available on this website.


How do we recess out of the ballroom? Back to Top

Students will follow the faculty out of the Key Ballroom.  The student marshal will direct you by row to stand, leave your row and leave the ballroom in a double line.  Undergraduates and graduate students will form two lines and march out side-by-side.


How do we get our diplomas? Back to Top

The recessional lines will be directed back to the check-in areas where you will get your diploma provided all financial obligations to the University have been met.  If you have a balance, you will have to wait until after Memorial Day to pay your bill and make arrangements with the Registrar's Office to obtain your diploma.  School of Pharmacy and PhD graduates will have received their actual diplomas.  You will then be directed where to exit.