Graduation ceremonies feature some of Cornell's finest traditions.  This page includes some important Baccalaureate and Commencement information to assist you in planning an exciting and memorable day.  If you do not plan to participate in Commencement, please contact the Registrar's Office at 319-895-4374 or

Please Note:  Rehearsals for Baccalaureate and Commencement involving the entire senior class are not conducted.  Only student marshals and platform party members are involved in rehearsals.

Baccalaureate:  Seniors, faculty and staff line up for this event Saturday, May 10, at 2:30 p.m. on the sidewalk between King Chapel and Old Sem.  The event begins promptly at 3:00 p.m.  This Cornell tradition features playful and meaningful words of gratitude by graduating seniors on behalf of their faculty, family, staff, and friends, as well as music played on the College's impressive Moller organ, and inter-spiritual wisdom for the life journey which includes a message by College Chaplain Catherine Quehl-Engel. This optional event for graduating seniors and their loved ones lasts about an hour.  Seniors should wear their academic gown, but no cap.

Commencement:  Students will assemble for Commencement in King Chapel at 9:00 a.m., Sunday, May 11; the ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. on the College Hall lawn.

  1. 9:00 a.m. Seniors must arrive at King Chapel with cap and gown. Photographs with family and friends should be taken before arriving or after the ceremony.  If severe weather is expected, Commencement will be held in the Small Multi-Sport Center.  Seniors will still be expected to line up for the ceremony at 9am, but line-up will occur in the basketball gym in the Sports Center.  Notification of the venue change will occur by 12:00 p.m. Friday via e-mail to all seniors and on the college’s homepage.  If outdoors, umbrellas will not be allowed in the seating area.  Ponchos will be provided in the event of rain. 
  2. Members of the Student Affairs staff will be available to assist seniors with lining up in King Chapel,  then moving to the College Hall Lawn. Once the senior line is on the lawn, the academic marshals will lead the seniors through the faculty and staff line and into the seating area.
  3. During the ceremony, the marshal will notify your row when you are to stand and move to the platform. You will enter the platform from the north side, receive your diploma cover from President Brand when your name is read, and exit the south side. 
  4. The ceremony will conclude with a benediction and recessional (for platform party and faculty only) during which everyone will stand and remain standing until the recessional is over.
  5. After the ceremony please remember to pick up your diploma from the tables along the Ped Mall on the West side of College Hall prior to 1:00pm.  More information about your diploma can be found here.
  6. Neither alcohol nor being intoxicated is permitted at Baccalaureate or Commencement ceremonies. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Cap & Gown: Seniors wil order their cap and gown online at This must be completed by March 25, 2014. They will pay for and pick up orders at the bookstore beginning May 5, 2014. The cap and gown total cost is $39.00 plus tax.

Senior and Faculty Speaker selection: One tradition is for the senior class to nominate the Faculty Speaker (selected by the President) and select the Senior Speaker.  Final election of the senior speaker from the top five nominees will be conducted in April.  

Affinity Seating: A proud Cornell tradition which gives seniors the opportunity to sit with close friends from their class during the Commencement ceremony. Please arrive on May 11 at 9:00 a.m. to begin the line up. 

Accessibility: Seating for persons with physical disabilities is available at both Baccalaureate and Commencement and will be clearly marked. 

Individuals in wheelchairs or with mobility limitations can be dropped off closer to the event spaces.  Drop-off locations include: Cole Library via Library Lane for events in King Chapel or Law Hall (use elevator in Cole Library to access the Ped Mall); Thomas Commons Circle for events in Thomas Commons or Kimmel Theatre; and the parking lot west of the Small Multi-Sport Center if Commencement is moved to that location (the northwest entrance will be open for individuals with disabilities).  For the College Hall lawn, individuals can be dropped off along 5th Avenue SW near the intersection with 2nd Street SW, which is adjacent to the seating area.  5th Avenue SW will be closed to through traffic.  See the detailed map here.

Grades and Honors: If you graduate with all-College honors or distinction within your field: “SUMMA CUM LAUDE”, “MAGNA CUM LAUDE”, “CUM LAUDE”, or “DISTINCTION” will appear on an insert in the Commencement program. You will receive a photo copy of your diploma in the jacket and a note explaining that the original is being returned to the printer for the honor to be engraved on it. The diploma will be sent to your home address unless you give the Registrar a different address. 

Your term 8 grade report will be mailed to your home address or to your summer address if you have provided one to the Registrar’s Office. Notify the Registrar’s office if you want it sent to a different address.  If you have a question about your diploma, contact the Registrar’s Office at (319) 895-4374.

If you have any questions about Commencement weekend schedules and procedures, please feel free to call or stop by the Student Affairs Office on the first floor of Old Sem, 895-4234.