Commencement for the academic year 2017-2018 will be held on Thursday, May 24, 2018, with Class Day activities on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Commencement Day activities include ceremonies in Harvard Yard and at the GSD, and the Harvard Commencement Address. Class Day activities at the GSD include class photos and ceremony rehearsal for graduates, the Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address, and a reception for graduates and their guests.
Graduates will each receive a small number of tickets for Commencement Day events to distribute to their guests, for activities including the morning ceremony in Harvard Yard, the GSD diploma ceremony, and the afternoon address in Harvard Yard. Each graduate will receive two guest tickets for the Harvard Yard morning ceremony and three guest tickets for the GSD Diploma Ceremony. Each graduate will also receive two guest tickets for the Harvard Yard afternoon address.
Graduates will not need tickets for themselves for any Commencement ceremonies. For both the morning ceremony and afternoon exercises in Harvard Yard, graduates will use their graduate credentials for access; credentials will be distributed at the GSD on Commencement morning. GSD graduates will not need tickets to process into the GSD diploma ceremony.
Graduates will each receive a ticket for their own meal at the GSD Commencement Lunch, and have the opportunity to purchase additional meal tickets for their guests.
Graduates will receive information about reserving guest tickets for ceremonies and meals in spring 2018. Actual physical tickets will not be distributed until the week of Commencement.
Note that there will be opportunities for guests without tickets to participate in activities, including Class Day events and live broadcasts of ticketed events on Commencement Day to the GSD's Piper Auditorium. There will be standing room access to the GSD Diploma Ceremony available for guests without tickets as space permits, once ticketed guests have entered. The GSD Class Day Exercises, the Harvard Yard morning ceremony, the GSD Diploma Ceremony, and the Harvard Commencement Address will also be broadcast live online, allowing family and friends around the world to share in the celebration.
Invitation Letters for International Guests
Some international guests may require tourist visas in order to enter the United States to attend Commencement. The GSD can provide an official letter of invitation addressed to the United States consulate in the guest's country, which guests can use to support their visa applications. Please note that an official letter of invitation from the GSD does not guarantee a guest a ticket to attend any specific graduation ceremonies or events. The GSD cannot provide formal graduation announcement letters. Graduates should request guest visa support letters early, as soon as they realize a guest will need one. Many consulates have lengthy visa application processes.
To request invitation letters for your guests, please fill out the visa support request form.
Harvard requires all graduates to wear official regalia (cap and gown) in order to participate in Commencement. Graduates will receive information about ordering regalia by email in spring 2018. We recommend you order promptly to avoid late fees and ensure your correct size gown can be ordered. If you are not yet sure whether you will be graduating this year or attending Commencement, it is better to order your regalia before the deadline and cancel the order later. Regalia order cancellations will receive a full refund up until the day before Commencement.
The April 4 deadline to order graduates' regalia has passed. Limited stock of extra gowns can be rented from the Harvard Square Coop in person beginning on May 17, one week before Commencement, for an additional $25 fee. We recommend you visit the Coop early in that week for greater likelihood of finding a gown that fits you well. Doctoral graduates or graduates with less-common sizes who missed the deadline should check in with Erica George.
Faculty are required to wear regalia to participate in the GSD Diploma Ceremony and to participate in the faculty procession into the Harvard Yard morning ceremony (note that spots in the Yard procession are reserved for ladder faculty, are extremely limited, and must be requested in advance; spots for 2018 will already have been filled). Faculty orders will go through GSD staff. Senior faculty may also elect to purchase their own regalia for ongoing use; for information, please contact Erica George.
Hotels and bed-and-breakfasts in the Cambridge area will become fully booked well in advance of Commencement. Because there are many other colleges and universities in the Greater Boston area with their own graduation festivities at the same time of year, it can become challenging to locate accommodations as the date gets closer. We recommend making reservations for guests as soon as possible. Check not only hotels right in Harvard Square (which may already be booked or have high prices due to the high demand) but also surrounding locations. Guests may want to consider hotels that are located on the MBTA public transit system, which opens up areas of Boston and other nearby communities, such as Somerville, Medford, and Arlington. Harvard is easily accessible on the MBTA red line subway and by several major bus routes. Public transportation options also include various taxicab and ride-share services.
Special Accommodations and Guests with Disabilities
If a graduate or guest has a disability, or requires special accommodations in order to participate in Commencement activities, please contact Erica George to request accommodations. If your guest will be attending the morning ceremony or afternoon address in Harvard Yard, you may also wish to view the university-wide Commencement website's information page for guests with disabilities.
Class Day – Wednesday, May 23
- Morning: Class photos and ceremony rehearsal for graduates (graduates will receive details by email)
- 3 pm – 5 pm: GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address by Paola Antonelli
- 5 pm – 6:30 pm: Reception for graduates and their guests
Commencement Day – Thursday, May 24
- 6:45 am: Harvard Yard gates open to ticketed guests. Guests are requested to be seated by 8:15 am. Plan time to stand on line and to have your bags searched; view the Yard bag policy here (scroll down). Also note that strollers will be allowed into the Old Yard, but not into Tercentenary Theatre proper.
- 7:00 am: Continental breakfast available at GSD for graduates and guests
- 7:30 am: Graduates line up at GSD and process to Harvard Yard
- 8:50 am: Academic Procession into Tercentenary Theatre and Commencement Ceremony (tickets required)
- Approximately 12 noon: GSD Diploma Ceremony (follows Harvard Yard ceremony; tickets required)
- Approximately 2 pm: GSD lunch for graduates and guests (immediately follows GSD Diploma Ceremony; tickets required)
- 2:30 pm: Harvard Alumni Association meeting and Commencement Address by Congressman John Lewis in Harvard Yard (tickets required; bag and stroller policies same as for morning)
Please note that some ceremonies and meals are ticketed events. Graduates will receive information about tickets for themselves and their guests for all events requiring tickets or with limited attendance.
If you are planning ahead for a future Harvard Commencement, these are the dates for the next several years:
May 30, 2019
May 28, 2020
May 27, 2021
May 26, 2022