Commencement for the academic year 2018-2019 will be held on Thursday, May 30, 2019, with Class Day activities on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. 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 Commencement Day events in Harvard Yard. These Harvard Yard tickets will be for both the morning ceremony and the afternoon exercises. GSD graduates will also receive three guest tickets for the GSD Diploma Ceremony.
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 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 can purchase additional meal tickets for their guests.
Graduates will receive information about reserving guest tickets for ceremonies and meals by email in the spring.
Note that there will be opportunities for guests without tickets to participate in activities, including all GSD 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. While the morning ceremony in Harvard Yard is limited to graduates and their ticketed guests, all members of the Harvard community with an active HUID card are welcome to attend the Commencement Day afternoon exercises in Harvard Yard. No tickets are required for any of the GSD's Class Day activities.
The GSD Class Day Exercises, the Harvard Yard morning ceremony, the GSD Diploma Ceremony, and the Harvard Commencement Address will be broadcast live online, allowing family and friends around the world to share in the celebration. (Note that the linked pages will not show webcasts until shortly before those webcasts go live.)
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. To trade regular Yard tickets for accessible section tickets, you must email Erica in advance.
Class Day – Wednesday, May 29
- Morning & early afternoon: Class photos and ceremony rehearsal for graduates. Details by program to be announced.
- Mid-afternoon: GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address; Gund Hall back yard tent (no tickets required)
- Late afternoon/early evening: Reception for graduates and their guests; Gund Hall (no tickets required)
Commencement Day – Thursday, May 30
- 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; Gund Hall (no tickets required)
- 7:30 am: Graduates line up outside Gund and (at about 7:45 am) process to Harvard Yard
- 8:50 am: Academic Procession into Tercentenary Theatre
- 9:45 am: Commencement Morning Ceremony begins (tickets required)
- 11:30 am: Commencement Morning Ceremony ends
- Approximately 12 noon: GSD Diploma Ceremony (follows Harvard Yard ceremony; tickets required until standing room opens); Gund Hall back yard tent
- Approximately 1:30 pm: GSD lunch for graduates and guests (immediately follows GSD Diploma Ceremony; tickets required); Gund Hall
- 2:30 pm: Harvard Alumni Association meeting and Commencement Address 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.
Additional and optional during Commencement Week are several special affinity group celebrations, which are student-organized. The Harvard Black Graduation celebration, Harvard Latinx Graduation celebration, and other special affinity group events will be announced in the spring.
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 2019. The page for ordering rental regalia through the Harvard Coop will open on February 25, 2019 and the last day to place an order will be April 3. We recommend you order promptly to avoid late fees and ensure your correct size gown is 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.
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). Faculty orders are coordinated through the GSD Commencement coordinator. Senior faculty may wish to purchase 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.
The university Commencement office has also created a list of some nearby hotels, which may be helpful in your planning.
Student Orations Competition
One of the oldest and most cherished traditions of the Morning Exercises of Commencement is the Orations Competition in which three students chosen by a panel of judges deliver an address from memory. Each year, one of these three students is a representative of one of Harvard's graduate and professional schools. Graduating students interested in applying to delivery the graduate student address will find information on the university Commencement website in the spring.
If you are planning ahead for a future Harvard Commencement, these are the dates for the next several years:
2020: Thursday, May 28 (Commencement); Wednesday, May 27 (Class Day)
2021: Thursday, May 27 (Commencement); Wednesday, May 26 (Class Day)
2022: Thursday, May 26 (Commencement); Wednesday, May 25 (Class Day)
2023: Thursday, May 25 (Commencement); Wednesday, May 24 (Class Day)
2024: Thursday, May 23 (Commencement); Wednesday, May 22 (Class Day)
2025: Thursday, May 29 (Commencement); Wednesday, May 28 (Class Day)
2026: Thursday, May 28 (Commencement); Wednesday, May 27 (Class Day)
Note that in 2020, 2025, and 2026, Commencement occurs during the same week as the Memorial Day holiday.
After Commencement, graduates become part of the worldwide Harvard community of alumni. Alumni are encouraged to register to maintain their connections with classmates and professional contacts. To learn more, see the GSD Alumni Resources page, and the Harvard Alumni Association website.
Alumni can also continue to access some aspects of Harvard's libraries, both in-person and online. The Frances Loeb Library has a page with information on library use for GSD alumni.
2018 alumni and guests may also wish to view GSD post-Commencement 2018 news wrap-up.
GSD 2018 graduates and their families are invited to purchase their class photo, and photos of the diploma ceremony, through our partner Commencement Photos, Inc. Graduates have received a unique ID number. To request this number, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-851-5924.
Graduates received information about viewing and ordering prints of candid photographs taken on Class Day and during Commencement by Creative Capture. To request this information be re-sent, contact Erica George.