Commencement for the academic year 2017-2018 was 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 or the GSD post-Commencement news wrap-up.
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 can purchase additional meal tickets for their guests.
Graduates received information about reserving guest tickets for ceremonies and meals by email. Actual physical tickets will not be distributed until the week of Commencement. Distribution will take place on Monday and Tuesday, May 21 and 22, from 1-4 pm in the Druker Design Gallery (Gund Hall lobby). Late ticket pickup will be available at the lobby Info Table on Class Day and on Commencement morning.
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. (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 23
- Morning: Class photos and ceremony rehearsal for graduates. Meet in Piper; rehearsals will immediately follow photos.
11:00 am: Architecture
11:30 am: Landscape Architecture
12:00 pm: Urban Planning and Design
12:30 pm: MDes
1:00 pm: MDE, DDes
- 1 pm – 3 pm: GSD Publications pop-up store, Druker Design Gallery (cash only)
- 3 pm – 5 pm: GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address by Paola Antonelli; Gund Hall back yard tent (no tickets required)
- 5 pm – 6:30 pm: Reception for graduates and their guests; Gund Hall (no tickets required)
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; 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 and Commencement Ceremony (tickets required)
- 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 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 received information about tickets for themselves and their guests for all events requiring tickets.
For a one-page printable flier with relevant maps and schedule highlights, download the Commencement 2018 Info Sheet (PDF).
Graduates have received invitations to optional special affinity group celebrations, which are student-organized. The Harvard Black Graduation celebration will take place on Tuesday, May 22, and the Harvard Latinx Graduation celebration will take place on Wednesday, May 23.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 will have received a unique ID number. To request this number, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-851-5924.
Graduates will receive information in June about viewing and ordering prints of candid photographs taken on Class Day and during Commencement by Creative Capture.