Commencement for the academic year 2016-2017 will be held on Thursday, May 25, 2017, with Class Day activities on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. 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 may wish to have their guests plan to be in town for both dates.

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 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.

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 at the linked locations, allowing family and friends around the world to share in the celebration.

Schedule Overview

Class Day – Wednesday, May 24

Commencement Day – Thursday, May 25

  • 7 am: Graduates line up at GSD and process to Harvard Yard. Continental breakfast available at GSD for graduates and guests.
  • 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.
  • 8:50 am: Academic Procession into Harvard Yard 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 Mark Zuckerberg 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. Graduates will be able to pick up tickets on Monday and Tuesday, May 22 and 23; details will be sent to graduates by email.

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.

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. The deadline to order, April 5, 2017, has now passed. However, you may still be able to obtain regalia. The Harvard Coop has a limited number of extra sets of regalia available, on a first-come, first-served basis, for an additional $25 above the normal rental fee. These can only be obtained by visiting the Coop in person at the Harvard Square location from May 18 through 24. We strongly recommend you visit the Coop as early in that time period as possible, as supplies are limited.

If you placed an order for regalia but now do not plan to attend Commencement, you can cancel your order up until the day before Commencement for a full refund. For more information about regalia orders, view the regalia information sheet.

Faculty: Your deadline to order regalia, customized to reflect your highest degree and granting institution, was April 19, 2017. Faculty are required to wear regalia to participate in the GSD Diploma Ceremony and to attend the Harvard Yard morning ceremony. 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.


Use of public transportation is highly recommended. For information about parking options, please see the Harvard Parking Office page for Commencement.

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.