Who To Contact

  • For general questions contact Special Events at 202-885-2430 or commencement@american.edu
  • Campus Store 202-885-6300
  • Parking Services 202-885-3111
  • Academic Support & Access Center 202-885-3360

Frequently Asked Questions

Before the Ceremony

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.

During 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 dean's office for more details.

During the Fall Commencement ceremony, when only one ceremony is held, the university selects one undergraduate and one graduate student to address graduates of all schools and colleges. Learn more about speaking at the fall commencement ceremony.

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.

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.

Herff Jones has created school-specific, personalized announcements for American University, and you can order them through their website beginning in late February for spring graduates and late October for fall graduates. It takes several weeks for personalized printing, so order them well in advance.

Because of limited seating in Bender Arena, tickets are required for guest admittance to certain ceremonies. For the Fall Commencement ceremony, students may bring up to five guests. For the Spring Commencement ceremonies for the School of International Service (SIS) and College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), students may bring up to six guests. Learn more about tickets.

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. The only exception is for active duty service members and students joining the Armed Forces who have received permission from AU Special Events to wear their formal dress uniforms in lieu of academic regalia. Learn more about regalia and dress uniforms

At 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.

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.

Please leave all personal belongings with your guests, in your vehicle during the ceremony or stored in a locker in the University Library. For security purposes, do not leave bags unattended.

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.

Parking on campus will be limited over commencement weekend. One commencement parking pass will be issued to each student who rents a cap and gown. The cap/gown rental serves as the graduate’s registration to participate in their school’s commencement ceremony. Learn more about getting to campus over commencement weekend.

After the Ceremony

Diplomas will be mailed to the address indicated on a student's graduation application approximately eight to ten weeks following commencement.