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Commencement Highlights Moments from Past Ceremonies

American University awarded its first degrees (two doctorates and one master's degree) in 1916 at a commencement ceremony held in the university's amphitheater. AU commencements have grown over the years as the university has become larger and more diverse. More than two thousand students from AU's six schools and colleges participate in commencement ceremonies each year.

Past honorary degree recipients and commencement speakers have included U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton, as well as Nobel laureates, Supreme Court justices, scholars, journalists, artists, and international figures and national leaders.

Five Historical Tidbits About Commencement

What’s the deal with AU’s commencement bagpipers?

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2022 Highlights

Highlights from the 2022 commencement ceremonies.

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Special Commencement Ceremony

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 and Spring 2021 graduates were invited back for a special commencement ceremony on May 21, 2022.

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Class of 2021 Ceremony and Processional

2021 Highlights

Highlights from the 2021 ceremonies.

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2020 Highlights

Highlights from the Spring and Fall 2020 virtual commencement ceremonies.

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Spring 2019 graduates pose in a group

2019 Highlights

Highlights from the Spring and Fall 2019 commencement ceremonies.


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Fall 2018 graduates line up in Bender Arena

2018 Highlights

Photo and video galleries from the Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 ceremonies.

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