FAQ | Graduates

Graduate FAQ

Questions about graduation? Please choose a category:


Am I registered to march at graduation?

To check whether you are on the degree list and registered to march at the Doctoral Ceremony or Commencement, please contact the Registrar’s Office.

Is there a rehearsal prior to graduation?

No—all the instructions you will need may be found in the PDF detailing reporting for graduation.

Arriving for Commencement

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

Precise report time for graduates is determined by School—please see reporting for graduation.

  • Doctoral candidates: details regarding reporting time and location on June 6 will be announced soon.
  • Bachelor’s and Master’s candidates will report to the Johnson Athletics Center on Friday, June 7. 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. Specific security arrangements, procedures, and instructions are finalized in the days leading up to graduation, so we advise guests to review the security page for the most up-to-date information.

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

Please contact the Registrar’s Office. They able to help you with a visa letter.

Tickets and seating

Does my family need tickets for the Investiture of Doctoral Hoods and Degree Conferral?

All families, friends, and mentors of PhD/ScD candidates are welcome at the Doctoral Ceremony—seating is unassigned and no tickets are required.

How can I get more than four Commencement tickets?

The only way to obtain extra tickets is from classmates who do not need all four (4) of their own tickets.

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 ages three (3) and older. 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! On the morning of Commencement only, a family member bearing a government-issued ID may pick up your tickets at the Commencement Information Booth in Lobby 7. Please review our information about tickets.


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

Air Force, Army, Marine, and Navy ROTC candidates may wear the prescribed dress uniform instead of academic regalia, provided they have spoken with their respective commanders and have been given the correct rank to wear with their service dress. Active service members may wear the prescribed dress uniform.

Where do I pick up my rented regalia?

For all regalia information, please visit the regalia page

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, or your may place your order online.

For more information, please contact the Coop directly.

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 complete the online request form. Questions may be directed to Student Disabilities Services by phone (617) 253-1674 or email sds-all@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 services and resources page within the accessibility section 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?


Are Segways permitted on Killian Court?


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 (617) 253-1674 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 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 the graduation festivities, 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 barcoded 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.

Tickets are not required for the Investiture of Doctoral Hoods and Degree Conferral Ceremony on June 6. If your family is attending that day only, you do not need to pick up Commencement tickets for them. Tickets are required only on Friday.

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.


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. 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.

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

Yes! After Commencement until approximately 3:30 pm, 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.


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 feed and change a baby?

Yes, please advise your family that there is a hospitality and lactation 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 ages three (3) and older. Babies and children under three years old do not need tickets.

After the ceremony

What time will the Doctoral Ceremony end?

The exact time depends on the number of graduates, and sometimes on the length of each speech: usually, it is shortly after 12 pm.

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 2 pm.

Is there a reception after the ceremony?

Yes, School and department receptions are held after the Doctoral Ceremony and Commencement. We recommend that you discuss with your family which reception(s) to attend and choose a meeting spot.

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 (including the Marriott), the Hyatt Hotel, and Le Meridien. A map will be made available on this website at the end of May.

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 or email sds-all@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 tents. 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

For hotel information, please visit the accommodations page. Commencement guests and those new to Cambridge will also find it helpful to review MIT’s visitors pages. Restaurants, parking, and campus maps may all be found there. 


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

If the 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 via the live webcast, which, in addition to being available to view from personal devices, will be shown in indoor 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. (Specifics regarding Doctoral Ceremony arrangements.)

Information regarding the possible cancellation of the ceremony in Killian Court will be available beginning at 7 am on event day, via a recorded message at 617-253-7669.

Exercises are removed from Killian Court only very rarely. Graduation 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 tents in Killian Court.

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 call the MIT Events and Information Center: 617-253-4795.

Happy graduate 2018

Family poses for a photo after the ceremony

Graduate in dress uniform

Graduates clap

Graduate hugs his mother

President Reif hands a graduate his diploma