You are here: American University Commencement Frequently Asked Questions

Photo of student speaker giving remarks at AU commencement

Healthy & Safety Information

  • Vaccinations: COVID vaccinations and boosters are strongly recommended, but not required for AU community members and guests. Vaccination and booster shots are readily available near campus, including pharmacies and grocery stores, and can be located on the CDC’s vaccine location webpage.
  • Good Health Practices: To support our community and your personal health, you are strongly recommended to stay home when you are sick, get tested if you exhibit COVID symptoms or have been exposed to a confirmed case, and wash your hands often.
  • We have developed updated FAQs that provide additional information about the new protocols. If you have questions, please contact Thank you for your continued support for the health and well-being of our AU community.


Application to Graduate
Applications to graduate are submitted through Eagle Service. Please visit the Office of the University Registrar for information on applying to graduate. Students should apply to graduate at the same time they register for the courses of their final intended term. For questions regarding your graduation application, please email

Dual Degree vs. Double Major
Dual degree students fulfill the requirements for two bachelor’s programs and earn a total of 150 credit hours. These students can participate in either or both schools’ ceremonies, are listed twice in the Commencement program (once for each school/college), and receive two separate diplomas. Double major students are expected to participate in their “home” school’s ceremony, are listed once in the Commencement program, and receive one diploma. Check your Student Planning report to verify your “home” school. See your advisor if you have questions.

Speaking at Graduation
During the Spring Commencement ceremonies, each school or college selects one undergraduate and one graduate student to give an address. Individual schools and colleges handle the selection process for student speakers, and each one is different. Contact your commencement coordinator for more details.

During the Fall Commencement ceremonies, when only two ceremonies are held, the university selects two undergraduate and two graduate students to address graduates of all schools and colleges.

Recommend an Honorary Degree Speaker
Honorary degree recipients must be approved by the school or college's dean, the president, and the Board of Trustees and are selected based on meritorious contributions to society or to American University in fields related to the school or college. The process typically begins one year in advance. All Commencement speakers are announced at the same time in early April. If you would like to recommend someone to receive an honorary degree and speak at Spring Commencement, please contact your dean’s office. Please provide as much information as possible including, your reason for recommending the individual, any personal connection you may have, and contact information if possible.

University Awards
See the University Awards website for additional information about the awards and criteria. The nomination process will begin in late January. Professors and advisers can nominate students, and students can also nominate themselves. Please note that University Awards are only given during the Spring Commencement season.

Guests & Tickets
An allotment of six (6) tickets will be distributed to students who have registered to participate in Commencement by ordering their cap and gown. Graduates will not need a ticket for themselves. Children under age 3 who will be sitting in an adult's lap during the entire ceremony do not require a ticket. If the child needs a seat of their own, they will require a ticket. Sale or duplication of tickets is prohibited.

Day-of Instructions
Day-of instructions will be shared in advance of the Commencement ceremonies. We request our graduates and guests review day-of instructions before coming to campus.

Commencement Attire
In order to walk in a Commencement ceremony, you must wear a cap and gown designed especially for American University. Students not wearing the proper regalia will not be permitted to walk in the ceremony. The only exception is for active-duty service members and students joining the Armed Forces who have received permission from to wear their formal dress uniforms in lieu of academic regalia. All graduates must be in regalia unless they are active military in uniform. Regalia includes gown, mortarboard or tam, stole, and/or cords. Anything other than regalia will not be permitted.

Graduate Arrival Time
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. (Doctoral degree recipients should arrive 90 minutes prior to their ceremony.) Day-of instructions will be shared with eligible graduates two to three weeks prior to the Commencement weekend.

Graduate Seating
Graduates may generally sit with their friends who are also graduating. 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.

Personal Items
Graduates are asked to leave all personal belongings with their guests in their vehicle or stored them in a locker in the University Library during the ceremony. For security purposes, do not leave bags unattended. All bags are subject to search. Objects that impede visibility, signs, banners, airhorns, and noisemakers are prohibited.

Travel to the Ceremony
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 10 minutes between the Tenleytown-AU Metro station and the Nebraska Avenue and McKinley/Letts shuttle stops. The north-side shuttle stop behind Kogod will not be in use and the tunnel roadway will be closed over Commencement weekend.

Commencement Parking
Parking on campus will be limited over Commencement weekend. One (1) Commencement parking pass will be issued to each student who purchases a cap and gown. The cap/gown purchase serves as the graduate’s registration to participate in their school’s Commencement ceremony. Eligible graduates can claim their parking pass while claiming their guest tickets.

Diploma Timing
Diplomas will be mailed to graduates at the diploma mailing address indicated on their graduation application approximately six to eight weeks following the end of the term. All AU graduates receive a Certified Electronic Diploma (CeDiploma) in addition to their physical paper diplomas. Students will receive instructions on how to download their CeDiplomas from the diploma company in the email that confirms the shipping of their paper diplomas. Graduates can update their diploma mailing address up to the graduation date by re-visiting their graduation application in Eagle Service. Any diploma mailing address change after that should be sent to

Graduation Pictures
American University has partnered with Pro Pics to take professional portraits of all graduates during the ceremony. Photos will be available for purchase after the ceremony. There is no cost to have your photo taken and no obligation to purchase. If you would like to receive your photo proofs, please go to to submit your information. If you have any questions regarding photos, please contact Pro Pics at