Graduate FAQ

Questions about Commencement? Please choose a category:

Arriving for Commencement

What time do I need to report on the morning of Commencement?

Precise report time for graduates is determined by School, beginning by 7:45 am. In late May 2015, we will provide a PDF comprising complete information to tell you when, where, and how to report on Commencement Day. (At the end of the May, advanced degree candidates will be provided a similar document regarding the Investiture of Doctoral Hoods.)

Graduates will report to the Johnson Athletics Center. Guests will not be permitted to enter the assembly area with you: please ask your family and friends to proceed to Killian Court.

What do I need to tell my family in regard to security?

Metal detectors will be in place at the entrance to Killian Court. It will be helpful to discuss this with your party ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect. Complete details about security arrangements and restrictions for 2015 will be available late in May.

How do I obtain a letter of invitation so my family can get visas to visit the US for Commencement?

Please send an email to Marti Ward, Assistant Registrar. She will be able to help you with a visa letter.

Tickets and seating

How can I get more than four Commencement tickets?

The only way to obtain extra tickets is from a classmate who does not need all four (4) of his/her own tickets. If you do not know of anyone who will have extra tickets, you may join the Mailman list administered by the senior class council to receive notifications of tickets made available by other graduating students. The list is open to both undergraduate and advanced degree candidates.

Those who do not need all of their tickets are invited to share with others by sending a message to reuse-tickets@mit.edu. Thank you.

While the Institute encourages students to share unneeded tickets, graduates and guests are advised that no tickets to Commencement at MIT may be bought or sold under any circumstances.

My family's tickets say, "General Seating". What does that mean?

Killian Court seats about 13,000 people during Commencement. It is a flat, grassy area, and all the seats are at the same level (i.e., not stadium or amphitheatre seating). Most guests sit in the general section.

Do small children need a ticket to attend Commencement?

A ticket is required for all those over the age of three (3). Babies and children under three years old do not need tickets.

I will be out of town until right before Commencement. Can someone pick up my tickets for me?

No, you will need to pick up your tickets yourself. But if you are traveling, please do not worry about your tickets: they will not be given away. Tickets (including those for the Disabilities section) will be distributed at Copytech (in the basement of Building 11) up until the night before Commencement. Pick-up hours will be posted in the spring.

On the morning of June 5 only, a family member bearing a government-issued ID may pick up your tickets at the Commencement Information Booth in Lobby 7, starting at 6:30 am.

Regalia

The ticket pick-up info says I have to show a receipt from the Coop to indicate that I have ordered regalia. What if I own it already or am borrowing it from a friend? What if I have the regalia, but lost my receipt? Will I still be able to pick up my tickets?

The answer to all these issues is to take a photo of yourself IN the regalia and be prepared to present it (on your phone is fine) when you go to pick up your tickets.

I am an ROTC candidate...do I wear regalia?

ROTC candidates wear the dress uniform for their branches of the Service. Please do not worry about the receipt issue to pick up your tickets; just bring a photo that shows you in your uniform. Thank you.

Graduation announcements

Is there a template for announcements? How do I order them?

The MIT Coop at Kendall Square offers personalized cards to announce your graduation from MIT. Order forms and samples are available at the store. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

Generic announcement cards (not personalized, but specific to MIT) are available at the MIT Coop at Kendall Square and the MIT Coop at the Stratton Student Center beginning in April.

For more information, please contact the Coop directly: 617-499-3200.

Accessibility services

How do I arrange for my family to be seated in the Disabilities Section?

You must contact Student Disabilities Services to make arrangements and to register to receive special Disabilities Section tickets. Please do this as soon as possible: seating is limited in this section.

To reserve seating in the Disabilities Section, or to advise us about a family member who needs special assistance, please contact Student Disabilities Services at 617-253-1674, TTY 617-253-3194, or email uaap-sds@mit.edu.

Will my family members be able to sit together, or does the person with the disability sit alone?

The person with the disability does not have to sit alone. Your entire party (maximum of four) may sit together in the Disabilities Section. All graduates receive four tickets, regardless of section.

Are wheelchairs available for the day?

If you think that your family member will need a wheelchair for the entire day, we recommend that you rent one. Please see the accessibility page for suggestions of wheelchair rental companies.

My family member has his or her own transport chair. Is it okay to bring that and to use it in place of a chair?

Yes.

Are Segways permitted on Killian Court?

No.

How do I contact an accessible taxicab?

The Cambridge area accessible taxicabs main referral line is 866-654-1003. Other area companies include Ambassador Cab (617-492-1100), Checker Cab of Cambridge (617-497-9000), Top/City Cab of Boston (617-536-5100), and Town Taxi of Boston (617-536-5000).

I don't think my family needs to sit in the Disabilities Section. But one family member does have trouble hearing. Are there assistive listening devices?

Yes, devices are available within the entry tent. Please see us there or call ahead if you have further questions.

Is there anything I need to be aware of in deciding if this section is right for my family?

There is no standing allowed in this section, since that would obstruct the view of those unable to stand. Please consider this carefully as you determine whether this section is appropriate for your family.

First aid

There is a first aid tent, staffed by personnel from MIT's Medical Department, located in the southeast corner of Killian Court. Graduates and guests requiring onsite first aid are welcome to visit as needed. Emergency and ambulance services will be on call and onsite and can be activated by any of the Commencement staff.

If you anticipate a need for local medical support during Commencement, please contact the MIT Medical Department ahead of time to let us know how we can help. You may email or call Dr. David V. Diamond, Associate Medical Director, 617-253-7625.

During the ceremony

Will my family be able to leave Killian Court during the ceremony?

Yes, but they must take their tickets with them if they expect to return! For everyone's safety, we must be very strict about security issues, and this includes making sure that everyone entering has a ticket. Guests may exit Killian Court in the back or the side doors, but the only entrance is on Memorial Drive. And please remember that those who leave the court during the ceremony will need to go through security again to re-enter.

How are degrees awarded?

Degrees are awarded in a simultaneous, alternating pattern, with graduates entering the stage from both sides as their names are read.

Photography

My family will want to take a photograph as I receive my diploma. Is that possible?

If your family is seated with an unobstructed view of the stage, they will be able to take a photograph from their seats. Otherwise, you will want to be sure to order a professional photograph or dvd. There is not a designated area at the front of the court where photos can be taken. Further, guests are not permitted to stand in chairs or in the aisles at any time, both for reasons of safety and because to do so would block the views of others. We strongly recommend the professional photographs and videos.

Okay, they can wait until the ceremony is over. But then are we allowed up front for photos?

Yes! For about 2 hours after Commencement, the stage, flowers, and MIT seal will remain in place so that families may take photos together. A line forms on the left. Please work quickly so that everyone who wants photos has a chance to take them. The campus, including Killian Court, is in use all weekend for Reunion and community activities; preparations for those events resume after Commencement.

Children

Can I have my child with me when I cross the stage?

Children are not permitted on stage, in the Academic Procession or Recession, or in the graduates' seating area. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Is there accommodation to change a baby diaper?

Yes, please advise your family that there is a hospitality tent toward the back of Killian Court, close to the entrance from Memorial Drive.

Do small children need a ticket to attend Commencement?

A ticket is required for all those over the age of three (3). Babies and children under three years old do not need tickets.

After the ceremony

What time will Commencement end?

The exact time depends on the number of graduates, and sometimes on the length of each speech: usually, it is about 1:30 pm.

Is there a reception after the ceremony?

Yes, School and department receptions are held after Commencement. We recommend that you discuss with your family which reception(s) to attend and choose a meeting spot. Reception details are forthcoming from your departments in the spring.

Is there transport back to the area hotels and parking lots?

Yes. The (free) Tech Shuttle runs all day, following the regular Tech Shuttle route and including stops at Kendall Square, the Hyatt Hotel, and Le Meridien..

My (grandmother, father, sister) has mobility issues and needs help to get to the reception. What can I do?

Please contact Student Disabilities Services in advance for assistance. They will help you ascertain the level of assistance you need and how to arrange it. Call 617-253-1674, TTY 617-253-3194, or email uaap-sds@mit.edu.

I lost my phone/iPad/other valuable item in Killian Court. Is there any hope of getting it back?

If you misplace an item during the ceremony, someone may put it in the hands of one of our staff or deliver it to the Information Tent. At all other times, found items are taken to the MIT Police station at 301 Vassar Street. We recommend labeling your valuables with your contact information to expedite their return to you.

Area services

Commencement guests and those new to Cambridge will find it helpful to review MIT's visitors pages. Hotels, restaurants, parking, and campus maps may all be found there.

Weather

What if it rains and the weather is miserable? Will Commencement still be held outside?

If Commencement Exercises must be moved inside due to severe weather (i.e., electrical storms or hail) the ceremony will be held in Rockwell Cage, attended by the stage assembly and graduates only. Guests will be able to view the speeches in closed-circuit television viewing locations throughout the campus. Please advise your family that in this unlikely scenario, they will see you cross the stage to receive your diploma.

Information regarding the possible cancellation of the Commencement Exercises in Killian Court will be available beginning at 7 am on Friday, June 5 via a recorded message at 617-253-SNOW.

Exercises are removed from Killian Court only very rarely. Commencement will be held outside in rain, cold, or heat. While this is a festive time and party clothes are appropriate, graduates and guests are urged to dress for the weather conditions. As you know, a rainy day in Massachusetts can be cold and the grass on Killian Court could be slippery. In the event of uncomfortable weather, hot or cold, your family may prefer to watch the ceremony from an indoor location. Lists and maps of these locations are available from the Information Tent in Killian Court, and also here.

But the forecast says it will be clear and in the 70s! That sounds perfect. Why should I worry about the weather?

Killian Court is an open area with almost no shade. Even a perfect summer day can become uncomfortable if you are sitting in the sun for four hours or more. This is especially hard on children and the elderly. Further, umbrellas against the sun are not permitted during the ceremony because they block the view of those behind you. Please discuss this with your guests and remember sunblock, hats, and the needs of the more vulnerable members of your party.

Do you have a question that has not been answered here? Please email commencement@mit.edu or contact the MIT Events and Information Center.

Applause

Procession

Handshake

Three Graduates

School Song

Photos after Commencement on the stage

Massachusetts Institute of Technology