Commencement 2024 will be held on Wednesday, May 22 (Class Day) and Thursday, May 23 (Commencement Ceremonies). We look forward to celebrating our graduating students along with family and friends. Please find information about our Commencement celebrations and helpful logistics below.


Wednesday, May 22, Class Day:

  • Class Photos and ceremony rehearsals (for graduates)
  • GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address
  • Reception for graduates and guests

Thursday, May 23, Commencement Day:

  • Harvard Yard university-wide ceremony
  • GSD Diploma Ceremony
  • Lunch for graduates and guests

Information for Guests

Guest tickets

Commencement activities include both ticketed and unticketed events. This helps ensure that all graduates are able to include loved ones in celebrating their accomplishments. Events requiring tickets:

Wednesday, May 22 (Class Day):

  • GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address
    • Each graduate receives up to three guest tickets
    • Each graduate will receive a special credential for ceremony access and will not need a guest ticket of their own

Thursday, May 23 (Commencement Day):

  • Morning Exercises in Harvard Yard
    • Each graduate receives up to two guest tickets
    • Each graduate will receive a special credential for ceremony access and will not need a guest ticket of their own
  • GSD Diploma Ceremony
    • Each graduate receives up to three guest tickets
    • Each graduate will receive a special credential for ceremony access and will not need a guest ticket of their own
  • GSD Luncheon
    • Advance registration is required

We maintain wait lists for Class Day and Commencement Day ceremonies, but cannot guarantee additional tickets becoming available. Ceremonies are live webcast and viewable from Piper Auditorium in Gund Hall.

Additionally, “standing room only” access is available for the GSD Diploma Ceremony and for the GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address. “Standing room only” guests wait in a separate line until ticketed guests have entered. These guests are not guaranteed a seat, but are welcome to sit if chairs are still available.

For both GSD ceremonies, a ticket guarantees a seat. Please note that for the Harvard Yard ceremony on Thursday morning, a ticket guarantees entry to the Yard but does not guarantee a seat.

Graduates receive information on registering for tickets over the graduating students email list, generally in late March or early April.

Live webcasts and language options

Key events, including the GSD’s Diploma Ceremony, the GSD’s Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address, and the Harvard Yard university-wide ceremony, will also be available by live public webcast for anyone unable to attend in person.

The GSD’s webcasts will include live English captions. Simultaneous automated translated captions will be available on separate links in multiple languages. These can be viewed on cell phones by those attending in person, as well as being available for remote viewers of the livestreams. Languages will include Chinese – Traditional, Chinese – Simplified, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Spanish.

Guest access to the Harvard wireless internet network can be accessed at the guest wifi information page.


The GSD’s Class Day and Commencement ceremonies will be held in the Gund Hall back yard (Gund Garden).

  • The ceremonies will take place outdoors, primarily on grassy terrain, under the cover of a tent. 
  • Guest seating is general admission, aside from seats in the section reserved for those with accessibility needs and their companions.  
  • Ceremony speakers will use microphones and speak from a podium.  
  • Live webcasts with captioning, including translations, will be available to view on personal devices.
  • Restrooms are available inside Gund Hall prior to tent entry, and within the ticketed tent area in the form of portable bathrooms, including a wheelchair accessible unit.  

Graduates will have the opportunity to request modified arrangements for guests who are elderly, disabled, attending with babies, or have other specific access needs to fully participate in the events. Guests who need modified arrangements should discuss their needs with their graduate. The GSD’s Commencement team also coordinates any accessibility arrangements needed for our graduates or their guests at the Harvard Yard ceremony on the morning of May 23.

Some of the accessibility arrangements for GSD events that are available on advance request can include:

  • Reserved accessible seating for graduates or guests
  • Accessible parking
  • American Sign Language interpreters
  • Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs)
  • Modified format programs (such as large print or pdf)
  • Sighted guide or escort to reserved accessible seating

Lodging options

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 places to stay as the date gets closer. We recommend making reservations for guest lodging as soon as possible. If possible, we advise making reservations that can be cancelled later on, when booking early.

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, Arlington, and Watertown. 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 created a list of some nearby hotels, which may be helpful in your planning.

Information for Graduates

Detailed schedule

The anticipated detailed schedule for Class Day and Commencement is below.

Please note that many of these events are restricted to ticketed or pre-registered guests. (Information about ticketing is at the top of this page.)

Wednesday, May 22, Class Day:

  • 10:00 am – 2:00 pm: Class photos and ceremony rehearsal for graduates, by department/program:
    • 10:00 am: Architecture
    • 10:45 am: Landscape Architecture
    • 11:30 am: Urban Planning and Design
    • 12:15 pm: MDes
    • 12:45 pm: MDE, DDes
  • 3:00 pm: Gund Hall back yard tent opens to ticketed guests for GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address
  • 3:30 pm: Gund Hall back yard opens to standing-room guests without tickets for GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address
  • 3:30 pm: GSD Awards Ceremony and Class Day Address; Gund Hall back yard tent
  • 5:00 pm: Reception for graduates and their guests; Gund Hall

Thursday, May 23, Commencement Day:

  • 6:45 am: Harvard Yard gates open to ticketed guests
    • Guests are requested to be seated by 8:15 am
    • Guests should plan time to stand on line and to have all bags searched
    • Please review the UPDATED Harvard Yard bag policy before heading to the Yard on Thursday morning
      • Be sure any bags you wish to bring with you will meet the Yard bag guidelines
      • In accordance with Massachusetts state law, weapons are not permitted
      • All persons, bags, and personal items are subject to inspection before entering
    • Strollers are not allowed into Tercentenary Theatre proper but are allowed in video-screen viewing location in Old Yard
  • 7:00 am: Continental breakfast available at Gund Hall for graduates and guests
  • 7:00 am: Graduates receive Harvard Yard credentials and line up for procession to morning ceremony
  • 7:20 am: Graduates process to Harvard Yard
  • 9:30 am: Commencement Morning Ceremony begins
  • 11:30 am: Gund Hall back yard tent opens to ticketed guests for GSD Diploma Ceremony
  • Note that all times after this are dependent on exact end time of Harvard Yard Commencement Morning Ceremony
  • Approximately 12:30 pm: Commencement Morning Ceremony ends
  • Approximately 1:00 pm: Gund Hall back yard opens to standing-room guests without tickets for GSD Diploma Ceremony
  • Approximately 1:00 pm: GSD Diploma Ceremony; Gund Hall back yard tent
  • Approximately 2:30 pm: GSD lunch for graduates and guests (immediately follows GSD Diploma Ceremony); Gund Hall

Visa support letters for international guests

If your guest(s) require a visa support letter in order to travel to Cambridge to participate in Commencement, please use our visa support letter request form. The GSD can provide an official letter to the US consulate in your guest’s home country, officially supporting the visa application.

You and your guests may also want to review the Harvard International Office page on inviting guests to visit the US for additional information that may be helpful in preparing for the visa application.

Please note that a visa support letter from the GSD is not an official letter of invitation, and it does not guarantee a guest a ticket to attend any specific ceremonies or events. The GSD cannot provide formal graduation announcement letters or invitations.


Harvard requires all graduates to wear official regalia (cap and gown) in order to participate in Commencement ceremonies. Graduates may order rental regalia through the Harvard COOP. The deadline to order regalia in advance was April 7.

Graduates will be able to pick up their regalia from the Harvard Square Coop (18 Palmer Street, ground floor entrance) during regalia distribution beginning Tuesday, May 14 through the morning of Commencement. Regalia distribution will be open daily 10 am to 6 pm, and will open at 6:45 am on Commencement Day May 23.

Graduates who missed the regalia rental deadline can go to the COOP to rent regalia during the regalia distribution period. Late regalia rentals will be on a first-come, first-served basis, so graduates may want to go to the COOP as soon as possible once distribution opens.

If you are no longer graduating or attending Commencement this year, regalia order cancellations will receive a full refund up until the day before Commencement (May 22). Regalia returns must be made by June 7 to the Harvard Square Coop (1400 Massachussetts Avenue location, 3rd Floor). For specific regalia rental questions please directly contact [email protected].

Student Orations Competition

One of the oldest 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.

In 2024, the Orators’ Workshop was on Wednesday, February 28 at 3 PM. The deadline to apply was Friday, March 22 at 11:59 PM. Graduating students interested in applying to deliver the graduate student address will find information on the university Commencement website.


Affinity Graduation Ceremonies

Hosted by community partners and alumni, University-wide Affinity Celebrations Honoring Graduating Students are student led gatherings celebrating the diverse cultures, communities, and identities present at Harvard. These events center the cultural and community traditions and values of graduates and provide opportunities to honor those who helped them reach this milestone.

Affinity celebrations:

  • Are open to all Harvard graduates who pre-register to attend
  • Are optional, taking place prior to Harvard University and School-based commencements
  • Offer keynote speakers, performances, regalia accessories, and cultural celebrations
  • Do not serve as graduation or convocation ceremonies

To participate in one or more celebrations or order a regalia accessory, complete this registration form by Monday, April 22.

For more information, see the University-wide Affinity Celebrations Honoring Graduating Students  page (requires HarvardKey login).

Public Health

COVID-19 Protocols

By registering to participate in Commencement, graduates and their guests agree to abide by all state, local, Harvard University, and Harvard GSD public health guidelines and protocols that may be in place at the time you come to campus, including those potentially related to COVID-19.

The University does not expect to implement any public health restrictions for Commencement 2024. Should any such policies become necessary, they will be communicated in advance to graduates.


For further questions about Commencement, please contact [email protected].