You are here: American University Events Commencement In-Person Commencement Procession FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Class of 2020 graduates and students eligible for Spring 2021 commencement will receive an email to their AU email accounts with a unique link to register for their school’s In-Person Commencement Procession; emails should not be forwarded. Registration is required for the In-Person Commencement Processions. The deadline for main campus Spring 2021 eligible applicants is 5:00 p.m. EDT, Monday, April 26. The deadline for Class of 2020, WCL 2020, and WCL Spring 2021 has been extended to 5:00 p.m. EDT, Friday, April 30. The deadline extension does not apply to main campus Spring 2021 eligible applicants. Walk-ins will not be permitted. Registered participants will receive their confirmation and NameCoach pass in their AU email account during the week leading up to their In-Person Commencement Procession date. Please continue to check this site for updates in the coming weeks.

Regalia is optional for the In-Person Commencement Processions. If you are not wearing regalia, we recommend professional attire. Graduates who are Active Duty or who are joining the Armed Forces are welcome to wear formal dress uniforms. We will have a limited number of caps/tassels available for purchase at AU Campus Store located in Butler Pavilion.

Graduates may park in the Katzen Arts Center parking garage and East Campus surface lot. Graduates with a state-issued disability permit or plate may park in the Sports Center garage, accessible through the Rockwood Parkway entrance. Graduates may be dropped off just inside the Glover Gate entrance on Massachusetts Avenue or south side of tunnel adjacent to the Hall of Science.

Graduates should arrive no earlier than 15 minutes prior to their In-Person Commencement Procession time slot. Graduates should head to the tunnel for check-in just outside the main doors to Bender Arena. The check-in line starts adjacent to the Eagle Statue. Graduates should make sure they have access to their NameCoach pass. Commencement staff volunteers will scan each graduate's NameCoach pass at check-in to ensure it is functioning.

NameCoach Pass is a digital pass that graduates will receive via email the week of their In-Person Commencement Procession. The NameCoach Pass (a QR Code) will be used to play your professionally-recorded name during their In-Person Commencement Procession. The email will also include the graduate’s diploma name, school, date, check-in time, and registered time. On the day of the In-Person Commencement Procession, graduates are required to check-in and collect a physical NameCoach Pass which they will use to scan their QR code just before crossing the stage.

Graduates will line up, maintaining physical distancing, from the Bender Arena lobby to the floor of the Arena. Professional photographers will take two photos of each graduate as they approach the stage. Just prior to the stage crossing, grads will scan their NameCoach pass for their name reading and proceed across the stage where a photo will be taken with President Burwell (from an appropriate distance). Graduates will exit through the Arena floor doors across from the Asbury Building. Seating will not be available, and graduates should expect to be in line for up to 20 to 30 minutes.

To limit density on campus and for the health and safety of all participants, guests are not permitted to accompany the graduate to campus. Families and friends are invited to watch a livestream of the In-Person Commencement Processions on the commencement site. In addition, the recordings will be posted to the 2021 Commencement Highlights page following the weekend.

For the health and safety of all participants, graduates taking photos around campus are asked to maintain physical distancing and avoid crowding. Building access will be restricted during the In-Person Commencement Procession weekends.

We will take every precaution possible to adhere to university and local government COVID-19 guidelines, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and limiting the number of graduates per time slot. In addition, we are taking the following precautions to maximize safety:

  • Check-in will take place in the tunnel to minimize the graduate’s time indoors. 
  • Facilities Management will monitor the HVAC to maximize air flow in Bender Arena.
  • AU’s cleaning partner, Aramark, will be onsite to conduct a thorough cleaning between In-Person Commencement Processions.
  • Multiple hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the Check-In area and the Arena.
  • There will be no handshakes or fist/elbow bumps between participants.
  • Check-in stations will have plexiglass barriers.
  • There will be separate doors for entry and exit with graduates entering through the main Bender Arena lobby and departing through the ground level exit.

GradImages will send proofs and ordering information to your AU email accounts within two weeks of your In-Person Commencement Procession.

Diplomas will be mailed to Spring 2021 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

Because of limited interaction while on campus, we do not anticipate that participants will require a COVID-19 test prior to their In-Person Commencement Processions. We will notify registered participants if requirements change. Graduates will follow health and safety protocols, including wearing face coverings, and complete the Health and Safety Acknowledgement form prior to arriving on campus.

We will continue to evaluate options for Spring 2021 and Class of 2020 graduates to return to campus to participate in future ceremonies. Decisions will be based on health and safety conditions and local requirements. We encourage all alumni to stay connected through the American University Alumni Association. Please check this website for future updates.