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Ceremony Things to Know

All American University Commencement ceremonies take place in Bender Arena. Ceremonies are based on school or college; there is no university wide ceremony. Each ceremony lasts two to two and a half hours.

Photos and full ceremony videos will be available in the highlights section a few days after the ceremony. Graduates and guests are encouraged to use #2019AUgrad for the Fall 2019 ceremony and #2020AUgrad for the Spring 2020 ceremonies on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Graduates should report to line-up areas 45 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony and follow the participant instructions. Only graduating students will be permitted in the line-up assembly areas, and may not be accompanied by family or guests.  

Ceremony Format

Doors open
The doors to Bender Arena will open approximately 45 minutes to one hour before the ceremony. No one will be permitted inside prior to that time.
Approximately 10 minutes before the ceremony, graduates and faculty process into the arena. The lobby and entrance are closed to guests during the processional.
Graduates do not sit alphabetical order and may sit with friends within their academic program.
National Anthem & Invocation
A student singer performs the national anthem, and a chaplain or other spiritual leader delivers an invocation.
Commencement Addresses
American University President Sylvia Burwell delivers an address to graduates, followed by remarks from academic deans, student speakers, and distinguished keynote speakers. The keynote speaker receives an honorary degree from American University.
Recognition of Graduates and Conferral of Degrees
All graduates are announced as they cross the stage and shake hands with President Burwell. During Spring Commencement ceremonies, recipients of University Awards are recognized.
Students and faculty recess from the arena.

Live stream

All ceremonies will be livestreamed on UStream and will appear in AU's video archive a few days after commencement.

See Archive