The Catholic University of America

Commencement 2018 Information

Commencement Speaker

Schedule of Events

General Information

Commencement Day
Information for Graduates

After the Ceremony

Graduates Questionnaire Form 


Class Picture Order Form

Diploma Frame Order Form 

Photograph Receiving Diploma 

Photograph Individual Portrait 

Graduation Video Form

Graduation Special


Tuesday, March 22 and Wednesday, March 23

CUA 2018 Graduation Fair, Representatives from Oak Hall Cap and Gown will be at the University Bookstore to take orders for academic regalia and graduation announcements. 

Thursday, May 24
Institutes and Special Programs Certificate Ceremony — 2 p.m., Byron Auditorium, Law School
A certificate presentation ceremony for students in the Comparative and International Law Institute, the Law and Public Policy Program, the Law and Technology Institute, and the Securities Law Program will take place at 2 p.m., with a reception to follow.   For further information, please call the Office of Institutes and Special Programs (319-6081) or email Constantia Dedoulis at
Mass —   4:30 p.m., St. Vincent’s Chapel, John McCormack Road
A Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated for the graduates at 4:30 p.m. at St. Vincent’s Chapel.  All graduates are invited to attend with family and friends.   Graduates should sit with their families and academic apparel should not be worn to the Mass.    If you have a family member who is a Roman Catholic priest and interested in concelebrating the Mass, please contact the Office of Student Life and Special Events no later than May 5.
Mass Parking:   The University garage adjacent to the law school will be open for those attending Mass.
Friday, May 25
Commencement Ceremony — 11 a.m., Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Seating for guests attending the law school commencement will begin after 9:30 a.m.  The academic procession will enter the Shrine at 10:50 a.m. 
Reception — approximately 12:45 p.m.,   University Lawn
Immediately following the Commencement ceremony, Dean Attridge and the Faculty will host a reception for graduates, families and friends on the lawn.  In case of inclement weather, the reception will be moved indoors.



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All graduates are required to attend the ceremony. If you cannot attend, you are required to write a letter to the Provost, Dr. Andrew Abela, requesting permission to be excused.  The letter should indicate the address to which the University Registrar should mail your diploma, and should be sent to Dr. Abela at 103 McMahon Hall, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.  20064.  Please send a copy of this letter to Stuart Schept, Registrar, Suite 343, Law School.
Graduates should return the 2018 Commencement Questionnaire to the Office of Student Life and Special Events no later than May 1. Please indicate the number of guests attending each graduation-related event.   Forms can be also faxed (202-319-4470) or sent via email to
Caps & Gowns 
All graduates are required, according to University policy, to attend the ceremony and wear academic regalia.  Graduating students who are members of the United States Armed Services are allowed to wear dress uniform in lieu of academic apparel. 
Cap and gowns will be available for purchase at the Bookstore beginning on March 20th. 
You are also able to order your Cap and Gown online:  
Graduates are strongly encouraged to be measured and purchase your academic regalia either at the CUA Grad Fair or at the bookstore prior to exams.  You will want to be sure that the sizing is correct and the best way to ensure this is to get the apparel sooner rather than later!

The graduates' procession will enter the church at 10:50 a.m., with the ceremony beginning promptly at 11 a.m.  The commencement exercises will last approximately one and one-half hours.  

Special Needs Seating

We will reserve seats for guests with disabilities.  All special needs tickets must be reserved through the Office of Student Life and Special Events.  The tickets can be picked up, beginning on April 16th from Suite 341; or if you prefer, we can mail them to your home.  If you have any questions or concerns about disability seating or other accommodations, please call us at (202) 319-6126, or email Emily Sobieski at   The wheelchair entrance to the Shrine is located at the front of the Shrine.

The number of guests that you may invite to the ceremony is unlimited.  Although there will be room for all guests of law school graduates at the ceremony, we urge you to have your family arrive early at the Shrine.  We will begin seating guests no earlier than 9:30 a.m.

Please Note:  We understand that there will always be a need to “save a seat” for a mother, father or brother who dropped the family off and will return after parking the car.  Our ushers will allow one or two seats to be held for this purpose, but “holding” a row will not be permitted

Parking and Shuttle Bus Service   
Parking will be available in the university garage adjacent to the law school on Thursday for the Institutes ceremony and reception and the Mass at St. Vincent’s Chapel 
On Friday, parking will be available in the garage, the university parking lots adjacent to the Shrine and the Shrine parking lot on Harewood Road and Michigan Avenue.  Shuttle buses will run from the front entrance of the law school to and from the Shrine before and after Commencement for those who wish to park in the law school garage.
Pictures: Class Photo, Individual Pictures and Video
Panoramic Visions is a local photography company which specializes in large group events.  Order forms for purchasing the class photo and commencement video can be downloaded from the links above, along with instructions on how to order photographs of graduates receiving diplomas. Panoramic Visions will also be available to take formal photographs in Room 311 on Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25. Check the flier for specific times.  Forms can either be turned into the Office of Student Life and Special Events any time before May 25 or mailed directly to Panoramic Visions Photography.

The commencement ceremony will be Webcast and will be available for viewing online after 6 p.m. on Friday, May 25.  There will be a link on our Web page  The program will be available online through early August. 


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Pre-Ceremony Organization

On graduation day, graduates should report to the Byron Auditorium at 9:30 a.m., wearing your gown, tam and hood.
   We ask that you stay in the auditorium until instructed to leave and remain with the class from this point until the end of the commencement ceremony. You will wear your hood for the class photo, but then take it off and carry it over your right arm during the procession to the Shrine.  

Name Cards / Order of Procession
Members of the administrative staff will be in the Byron Auditorium distributing name cards and giving you final instructions for the photograph assembly and procession.

The name card is important.  Please do not lose it.  During the commencement ceremony, you will give the card to the Faculty Marshal, who will be at the podium to read the graduates’ names during the ceremony. Once you have your name card, you should wait in the auditorium until you are instructed to go outside for the class photo.  After the photograph has been taken, we will ask you to assemble in alphabetical lines behind appropriately marked signs at the back of the Pryzbyla Center.  

Inclement Weather
In case of inclement weather, graduates should report to the Byron Auditorium as directed above to receive name cards and be in the class photograph which will be taken in the Atrium.  In case of rain, there will be no procession from the law school to the Shrine. Following the photo session in the atrium, graduates will be sent directly to Memorial Hall (in the lower level of the Shrine) to line up for the procession.
Panoramic Class Picture
Following instructions in the auditorium, the graduates will be directed to the back lawn for the class photograph.  Please listen carefully to the photographer’s instructions.  We have only about 30 minutes to have the class picture taken and reassemble for the procession.

Marching to the Shrine
After the picture has been taken, please be alert and follow directions to line up behind the Pryzbyla Center for the academic procession.  Once the alphabetical line-up is finalized, the procession will walk up the path to McMahon Hall and across the mall, entering the Shrine via the front door.  The academic procession will enter the Church at approximately 10:50 a.m.

Graduates will be divided alphabetically for the procession and seating in the Shrine: A – L in a single file line on the right, and, M - Z in a single file order on the left. Once the group is lined up alphabetically, we will move the group together so that the procession will be in a double line, with A - L walking on the right and M - Z walking on the left.

The Ceremony
The graduates will occupy the front section of the Shrine.  Our “A - L” graduates will sit in the front right section of the Shrine, and the “M - Z” graduates will sit in the front left section.  The faculty and honored guests will be seated on the altar.  Please remain standing in your place for the Invocation and the National Anthem.  Dean Attridge will then instruct you to be seated.  Men should remove their tams during the National Anthem.

After short preliminary speeches and the Student and Commencement Addresses, Dean Attridge will ask the graduates to stand.  President John Garvey will read the degree conferral and ask you to “don your hood” before lining up to go to the altar.  Ushers will assist graduates in moving up the right stairwell to the main altar.  You will present your name card to the Faculty Marshal and proceed to walk across to the center stage where you will first shake hands with President Garvey and then move to Dean Attridge who will present your diploma. You should shake Dean Attridge’s  hand, taking the diploma with your left hand and pause for a photograph with the Dean and President.

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During the graduation ceremony you will receive a “decorative diploma.”  You should report to the Academic Affairs office in Suite 343 from 1 to 3 p.m. to pick up your official diploma.

Dean Attridge and the faculty will host a reception graduates, families and friends on law school lawn and in the Keelty Atrium immediately following the graduation ceremony.  In case of inclement weather, the reception will take place in the Atrium, the Student Lounge and Cafeteria.
If you have any questions about the ceremony, or any other graduation-related events, please feel free to call the Office of Student Life and Special Events at 202-319-6126.