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Commencement & Diploma Ceremony

Friday, May 11, 2018Hooding with Don

Main Commencement Ceremony

9:00 am, Alumni Lawn
Graduates arrival time: 8:25 am

Graduate School Diploma Ceremony

11:00 am Magnolia Lawn on Magnolia Circle
(near 21st Ave & Edgehill)
Graduates arrival time: 10:30 am


Graduates from August 2017, December 2017 and May 2018 are eligible to participate in Commencement ceremonies on May 11, 2018. This includes the Main Ceremony on Alumni Lawn, followed by the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony on Magnolia Lawn. You will receive email messages from both the University Registrar and the Graduate School about confirming your attendance and other important information. Messages will be sent to your permanent (non-VU) email address as specified on your intent to graduate form. Please reply to all messages when requested. The Graduate School will continue to contact graduates until we receive a response. 

A reception honoring graduates will be held on Thursday, May 10 in the Joe C. Davis Memorial Hall (Room 206 Alumni Hall) from 2:00-4:00pm. All graduates are invited along with their family and guests. Light refreshments and wine/beer will be served.

The best way to find information and stay up-to-date on day of changes is to download the Vanderbilt Commencement App for Apple or Android phones. Be sure to turn on notifications for last minute alerts of potential venue changes due to inclement weather.



All graduating students must order and wear regalia (cap, gown, hood) in order to participate, and are responsible for ordering it through Vanderbilt University.

Please note:  The deadline for ordering regalia is April 6, 2018.  

Students must pick up their regalia at the upper level of Barnes and Noble at Vanderbilt, located at 2525 West End Avenue, across from Centennial Park, on Wednesday and Thursday, May 9th and 10th, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Please bring a photo ID, or allow someone to present your Vanderbilt ID to pick up your regalia on your behalf.  Regalia will not be available on Alumni Lawn .


Graduate School Open House Reception

Graduating students and their guests are invited to attend an Open House Reception hosted by the Graduate School.  Visit Alumni Hall, room 206, between noon and 4:00 PM on Thursday, May 10th, to enjoy the festivities.


Main Commencement Ceremony

The Main Ceremony takes place on Alumni Lawn (Memorial Gymnasium in case of severe weather, see Commencement app). Graduate students should arrive at the south end of McGill Hall (located on the west side of Alumni Lawn) by 8:25 a.m. where they will line up by degree. The procession begins promptly at 9:00 a.m.  When released from the Main Ceremony, graduate students should walk to Magnolia Lawn for the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony (please allow 15 minutes).  Additional instructions and maps can be found on the Vanderbilt Commencement website.


Diploma Ceremony

All Graduate School graduates will receive their diplomas and PhD graduates will be hooded at the Diploma Ceremony that directly follows the Main Commencement Ceremony. The Diploma Ceremony will be held at Magnolia Lawn (near 21st Ave and Edgehill Ave) and begins promptly at 11 a.m. with graduates arriving at 10:30 a.m.


PhD Hooding

hoodingAn integral part of the Diploma Ceremony is the hooding of PhD graduates. The doctoral hood, carried on stage by the graduates, is placed over the head and onto the shoulders, symbolizing support of the graduate and passing on of knowledge between one generation of doctorates to another. Generally, the hooding is performed by the faculty advisor, dissertation chair, or another faculty member of the dissertation committee. Asking and arranging for a faculty member to be a hooder is left to the discretion of the graduate. If a graduate does not name a faculty member as a hooder, one of the Graduate School Assistant Deans will act as hooder.



check inAll graduating students and faculty should arrive at the large white tent on Magnolia Lawn on the Peabody Campus (see map) for the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony by 10:30 a.m. Students and faculty will check-in and receive a card with instructions for line-up, processional, hooding, diploma, and photos.



Guest Seating

Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in “designated” guest areas under the tent (white chairs are for guests). Handicapped seating is located in the center, front section of the guest seating area. 

Important Instructions:

  • Please keep ALL aisles clear at all times for the processional/recessional.
  • Please refrain from cell phone use during the ceremony.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited inside or around the tent area.
  • Pets are prohibited other than official service animals.



Dean's ViewYou will give your check-in card to the designated staff member as you enter the ramp leading up to the stage. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School will read graduates' names as they enter the stage.

  • Master's candidates wear their hoods as they cross the stage to shake the Dean's hand and receive their diploma.
  • PhD candidates drape their hood over their left arm. They cross to the center of the stage, stop in front of the hooding platform, then face the audience. The hooder then steps onto the platform, takes the hood from the candidate, and places it over the candidate's head and across the shoulders. After being hooded, graduates  walk across the stage with their hooder to shake the Dean's hand and receive their diploma. 



A professional photographer takes photos as graduates shake hands with the Dean on stage. As a courtesy to all in attendance, please ask your guests to refrain from advancing to the front of the stage area to take photos. After the ceremony, the stage is available for additional graduate and guest photo opportunities.



Magnolia Lawn is located on Magnolia Lawn Circle (near 21st Ave South and Edgehill) on the Peabody Campus. Please refer to this map.



Parking for all guests and participants is available at the 25th Avenue Garage, Kensington Garage, Terrace Place Garage, and Wesley Place Garage. Shuttle buses will be available from all four garages. In addition, a shuttle from the Main Ceremony on Alumni Lawn to the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony on Magnolia Lawn will run at 10:15 a.m. for special needs guests. Refer to the shuttle service map and the Vanderbilt Commencement website for complete schedules and locations.


Bubbles & Berries Reception

Following the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony, the Bubbles & Berries reception (fruit and champagne) will be served in the adjacent tent for all graduating students and their guests.



There will not be a rehearsal or formal information meeting for the graduates.

Typically, the Diploma Ceremony ends by 1:30 p.m.

Regalia must be returned to the Barnes and Noble at Vanderbilt by Monday, May 11 by noon. See the Commencement website for specific instructions.

Generally, the walk between the Main Ceremony to Magnolia Lawn takes about 15 minutes. There is a shuttle service to Magnolia Lawn from Alumni Lawn for guests with special needs. See Parking/Shuttles information above regarding transportation to/from Magnolia Lawn. There are also specific services provided for guests with special needs including wheelchairs, parking permits, and interpretation services. To request any of these, refer to the Vanderbilt Commencement website. 

Diplomas were mailed to all students who graduated in August or December 2018. All May 2019 graduates who attend will receive their diploma at the ceremony. Otherwise, it will be mailed to you approximately two months after Commencement. Please be sure to verify or update your permanent address through the graduation application on YES or at the Registrar’s office. The phone number is 615-322-7701.

Master's students will wear their hoods throughout the ceremony. Doctoral candidates are usually hooded by their advisor, major professor or another faculty member from their dissertation committee. The candidate is responsible for inviting their hooder (confirming their willingness and availability) and providing their name and email address to the Graduate School. If your advisor or other faculty member is unavailable, one of the Graduate School Assistant Deans will hood you. PhD students wear their hoods when walking across the stage to greet (and shake hands with) the Dean during the ceremony.

If you have questions that are not addressed above, please call 615-343-2727 or email gs_commencement  for further information.