Commencement for the academic year 2016-2017 will be held on Thursday, May 25, 2017. Class Day activities, including class photos, ceremony rehearsal, Class Day speaker, and a reception for graduates and their guests, will be held on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, with events open to guests beginning in the mid afternoon. Graduates may wish to have their guests plan to be in town for both dates.

This page will add more information throughout the spring. If you have a question and don’t see the answer below, please contact Erica George, the GSD Commencement coordinator. You may also wish to view the university-wide Commencement site.



Graduates will each receive a very 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 tickets for the morning ceremony, three tickets for the GSD diploma ceremony, and two tickets for the afternoon address.

Note that there will also be opportunities for guests without tickets to participate in activities, including Class Day events and live broadcasts of ticketed events to a GSD auditorium. There also will be standing room access to the GSD diploma ceremony available for guests without tickets as space permits.

Schedule Overview

Class Day – Wednesday, May 24

  • Morning: Class photos and ceremony rehearsal
  • Mid-afternoon: GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day address
  • Evening: Reception for graduates and their guests

Commencement Day – Thursday, May 25

  • Early morning: Graduates line up at GSD and process to Harvard Yard
  • Morning: Commencement Ceremony in Harvard Yard
  • Mid-Day: GSD Diploma Ceremony (immediately follows Harvard Yard ceremony)
  • Early afternoon: GSD lunch for graduates and guests
  • Mid-afternoon: Commencement Address in Harvard Yard

A more detailed schedule will be distributed closer to Commencement Week.

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.

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 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.

To request invitation letters for your guests, please fill out the visa support request form.


Harvard requires all graduates to wear regalia in order to participate in Commencement. Please order your regalia promptly. Note that the strict deadline is April 5. Even if you are not yet sure whether you will be at Commencement, please order. You can cancel your order up until the day before Commencement for a full refund. Place your regalia rental order at For more information about regalia orders, view the regalia information sheet.


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. Harvard is easily accessible on the MBTA red line subway and by several major bus routes.

Guests with Disabilities

If one of your guests has a disability, or requires special accommodations in order to participate in Commencement activities, please contact Erica George to request accommodations for GSD activities. If your guest will be attending the morning ceremony or afternoon address in Harvard Yard, please also see the university-wide Commencement website’s information page for guests with disabilities.