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.

If you have a question about Commencement 2018, please contact Erica George, the GSD Commencement coordinator. You may also wish to view the university-wide Commencement site.


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 three tickets (one ticket for themselves and two tickets for guests) for the Harvard Yard afternoon address. 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 tickets in spring 2018.

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 in spring 2018.

Faculty are required to wear regalia to participate in the GSD Diploma Ceremony and to attend the Harvard Yard morning ceremony. Faculty will receive information about ordering regalia in spring 2018. 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.

Schedule Overview

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
  • 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.
  • 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 in Harvard Yard (tickets required; bag policy 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.