Commencement | Frequently Asked Questions



Can I sit with my friends at graduation?

Generally, yes. Graduates do not sit or walk in alphabetical order during commencement, but your friends must be in the same school or college as you and in the same degree candidacy (i.e. undergrads must sit with undergrads).


How many guests can I bring, and do my guests need tickets to attend the ceremony?

Graduates participating in the School of International Service ceremony will need tickets for their guests. Students participating in the School of Public Affairs, School of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences, and Kogod School of Business ceremonies are permitted to bring no more than seven guests. Tickets are not required for these ceremonies.


What time should graduates arrive to line up before the ceremony?

Please arrive 45 minutes prior to the start of your ceremony in order to receive your name card, line up, and process into the arena. 


What should I wear?

In order to walk in a commencement ceremony you must wear a cap and gown designed especially for American University by Herff Jones. Students not wearing the proper regalia will not be permitted to walk in the ceremony. Rental regalia serves as a student's registration to participate in commencement. Click here for cap and gown ordering instructions.


How should my guests and I get to AU?

We encourage graduates and guests to use public transportation, such as Metro and the AU shuttle, to get to campus. The AU shuttle is complimentary and will run every 15 minutes between the Tenleytown-AU Metro station and the Nebraska Avenue and south-side shuttle stops. Service at the north-side shuttle stop will be limited throughout the day.


If I need to drive, how do I get a parking pass?

Parking on campus will be limited over commencement weekend. One commencement parking pass will be issued will be issued to each graduate with their cap and gown. Click here more information on parking.


What do I do with my personal items during the ceremony?

Please leave all personal belongings with your guests or in your vehicle during the ceremony.


How do I order graduation announcements?

You can purchase or order generic graduation announcements from the Campus Store. Herff Jones has created school-specific, personalized announcements for American University, and you can order them through their website. It takes several weeks for personalized printing, so order them well in advance. 


What is the senior class gift, and how can I donate?

The 2015 senior class gift has not yet been announced.


I would like to speak at graduation. How do I apply?

Individual schools and colleges handle the selection process for student speakers, and each one is different. Contact your dean's office for more details.


I believe I am qualified to win a University Award. How do I get nominated?

See the University Awards website for additional information about the awards and criteria. The nomination process will begin in late January, 2015. Professors and advisers can nominate students, and students can also nominate themselves.


When will I receive my diploma?

Diplomas will be mailed to the address indicated on a student's graduation application approximately six to eight weeks after grades are finalized.