Graduates FAQ

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we ask that you please refer to the COVID-19 Commencement page for the most up-to-date information.

 

Do you have a question that is not answered here? Please email commencement@mit.edu or call the MIT Events and Information Center: 617-253-4795.

Participation

No—all the instructions you will need are in the reporting for graduation document, which will be distributed in the weeks prior to Commencement.

When you apply to graduate, you indicate whether or not you plan to participate in Commencement or the Doctoral Ceremony. Review your degree application in WebSIS to see if you are registered to march.

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. It will be helpful to discuss this with your party ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect.

International students who would like to request a letter of invitation for family members who need a visa to visit the United States to attend the graduation ceremonies can request the invitation letters directly in iMIT. After logging in to iMIT, select “F-1 Student Services” or “J-1 Student Services,” depending on your visa status, and then select “Letter of Family Invitation.”

Tickets

The only way to obtain extra tickets for the Commencement Exercises 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.

If you have more guests than tickets, indoor viewing centers around campus will show a live video feed, with captions, of the Commencement Exercises. The viewing centers are open to all and tickets are NOT required. Indoor viewing is also an excellent choice for those who may find it difficult to be seated outside for the duration of the ceremony.  A list of viewing center locations will be available on these pages in May.

Please note that tickets are only required for guests ages three (3) years and older; those ages two and younger do not need a ticket. 

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.

A ticket is required for all those ages three (3) and older. Babies and children ages two (2) and under do not need tickets.

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.

For all regalia information, please visit the regalia page

Graduation announcements

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 you may place your order online.

For more information, please contact the Coop directly.

Accessibility services

To reserve seating in the Disabilities Section, please complete the online request form. Please do this as soon as possible: seating is limited in this accessible section. Questions may be directed to Disability Access Services at 617-253-1674 or email das-student@mit.edu.

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.

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 section for suggestions of wheelchair rental companies.

Service animals are always welcome at MIT. If you are requesting tickets for the disabilities section, it is helpful, though not essential, to let us know at that time that your family will be accompanied by a service animal.

The Cambridge area accessible taxicab 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.

Yes, devices are available within the entry tent. Please see us there or call ahead (617) 253-1674 if you have further questions.

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

Personnel from MIT’s Medical Department staff a Medical Station. 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

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

At the Doctoral Ceremony, candidates cross the stage individually to receive first the hood, then the diploma.

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 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.

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, which applies to the Doctoral Ceremony and to the Commencement Exercises.

Because MIT does not confer honorary degrees, our graduates’ accomplishments are the focus of these celebratory events.

MIT is delighted to announce the guest speakers for this year’s ceremonies:

  • Doctoral Ceremony (May 28): Esther Duflo PhD ’99, the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT. Announcement at MIT News
  • Commencement Exercises (May 29): Admiral William H. McRaven, retired US Navy four-star admiral and former chancellor of the University of Texas system. Announcement at MIT News
After the ceremony

The exact time depends on the number of graduates, and sometimes on the length of each speech: usually, it is about 2 pm.

The Doctoral Ceremony runs about 1.75 hours from the time everyone is seated.

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

Yes. A map will be made available on this website at the end of May.

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.

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 visitor information pages. Restaurants, parking, and campus maps may all be found there.