Frequently Asked Questions for Graduating Students, Friends, and Family

Q: What is the difference between McCormick Convocation and University Commencement?

A: Commencement is the all Northwestern ceremony at Ryan Field where the Class of 2018 is commemorated as a whole. During the ceremony, student, faculty and guest speakers will address graduates and their families.

Convocation is an individual school ceremony that awards the graduate with their diploma. Students walk across the stage and are individually recognized at their school's Convocation ceremony.

Q: When will I receive my diploma?

A: Diplomas for spring graduates will be handed out during McCormick Convocation unless there are extenuating circumstances. Diplomas that are not awarded during the event will be mailed within 8-10 weeks. Diplomas for other graduation periods (fall, winter, summer) are sent out by the Office of the Registrar within the same timeframe.

Q: When and where is University Commencement?

A: Friday, June 22, 2018. The main commencement website, linked here, has complete details.

Q: When and where is McCormick Convocation?

A: Convocation is scheduled for Saturday, June 23, 2018 at Ryan Field from 8:00 am to 9:45 am. Line-up for graduates is at 7:00 am. Following the ceremony, allow about 10 minutes to return your rented gown (Gate C). Please exit the stadium promptly as another ceremony will be starting after McCormick's ceremony ends.

Q: What events are happening after McCormick Convocation?

A: Due to the Weinberg Convocation that will be starting immediately after McCormick's Convocation, we ask that you promptly leave the stadium to allow the other guests to enter.

Q: When is the reception?


Q: What time do students need to be ready in cap and gown for University Commencement and McCormick Convocation?

For University Commencement, students must be dressed in cap and gown. Assembly details will be sent via email or check this link or the Commencement App.

For McCormick Convocation, students must be dressed in cap and gown and assembled at no later than 7:00 am.

Q: Do I need tickets to attend University Commencement?

A: Tickets for commencement are available at the main website, linked here.

Q: Do I need tickets to attend the McCormick Convocation?

A: Tickets are not required but you must complete the senior exit survey by May 26 to avoid any complications.

Q: May I arrive early to the ceremonies?

A: If guests wish to arrive early for University Commencement, the gates will open at 8:00 am. For McCormick Convocation, doors will open at 7:00 am. Please allow yourself ample time for travel and parking on this busy weekend.

Q: I haven’t received any information, how do I know if I’m graduating?

A: To check graduation status, students must check their audit in MAS. There, you can see your degree requirements and your requested graduation date (see the 'graduation term' section). If you are having problems viewing this, come to Tech L269 and speak with our staff.

Q: If I graduate in August/September, may I still take part in the June graduation ceremony?

A: Yes, if you are an undergraduate student finishing your degree requirements in August or September, you may still participate in the McCormick Convocation ceremony. However, you will not receive your diploma on the day of Convocation. After you have completed your summer coursework, your degree will be audited and the diploma will be mailed to you.

Q: If I completed my coursework in December or March, is it possible for me to attend the June McCormick Convocation?

A: Yes, if you completed your degree requirements during these times, you are eligible to participate in the McCormick Convocation ceremony. A petition to walk is required for December graduates.

Q: How do I order my cap and gown and what is the deadline? How will I pick it up?

A: Rental arrangements for caps and gowns must be made online by TBD. Check the Herff Jones site. Caps and gowns will be distributed in Norris University Center to Undergrads on a date to be determined.

Q: In addition to a cap and gown, what is appropriate attire for the ceremony?

A: The weather in June is often quite hot. Please be sure that the shoes and clothes worn under your gown allow you to be comfortable while still preserving the dignity of the ceremony.

Q: I’m a graduate student, where do I get information on my graduation ceremony?

A: Information on ceremonies for graduate students can be found here. For detailed information, contact Paula Straaton at 847-491-3553 or p-straaton@northwestern.edu.

Q: Is there special accommodation available for ceremony guests with accessibility needs?

A: For disability accommodation services at University Commencement, please click here to read options and make a request. For special accommodations at McCormick Convocation, you will have the opportunity to make this request during the senior exit survey. You may also email mccormick-school@northwestern.edu

Q: What items are prohibited at the ceremonies?

A: Alcohol, weapons, tobacco consumption, cell phone use during procession and ceremony, musical instruments, large purses, coolers, bags, backpacks, glass containers, cans, thermoses, ice chests, picnic baskets, beach balls, and inflatables.

Q: Where can I store my belongings?

A: There will be no lockers or storage space for personal belongings. Please pack lightly and plan to leave all backpacks, cameras, purses, skateboards, and other personal items with friends or family for safekeeping during the ceremonies.

Q: What if it rains during University Commencement?

A: Commencement will go on outdoors rain or shine so please dress appropriately. In case of severe weather, announcements will be posted sent out on the University's graduation app and posted at http://www.northwestern.edu.

Q: Will professional photography be available at McCormick Convocation?

A: Each diploma recipient will be photographed by a professional photographer from Grad Images, Inc. Graduates will subsequently be contacted by the studio performing this photo service and informed about how to buy their images.

A separate vendor, Graduation Nation, will make available a DVD recording of the entire ceremony; they will be notifying families of their service soon. During the ceremony it is impossible for guests to take close-up pictures.

DVD Provider Graduation Nation

Q: Who will deliver this year’s University Commencement address?


Q: Who will deliver this year’s McCormick Convocation address?


Q: What other celebration events are happening during the weekend besides the University Commencement and McCormick Convocation?

A: Other events include: Baccalaureate Service 2018.

A: Information about other convocations at Northwestern, may be found on the main commencement site.

Q: Where can I find parking and transportation information to the ceremonies?

A: Transportation information can be found here.

Q: When is the Order of the Engineer Ceremony (Ring Ceremony) for McCormick Undergraduates, and what does it entail?

A: This is scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 2:00 pm, in the Ryan Family Auditorium, Technological Institute, is the optional Ring Ceremony, at which graduates are inducted into the Order of the Engineer. At this event, engineers pledge to follow the professional standards befitting an engineer. Dress is business casual. No RSVP is necessary, but it is mandatory that interested students order their ring using the form sent out in graduation information email.

Q: Is it necessary to purchase rings for participation in the Order of the Engineering Ceremony (Ring Ceremony)?

A: Yes, will receive your ring during the ceremony as part of the swearing in process.

Q: To purchase rings, how much do they cost and how do we order them?

A: $40. You should receive the order form in your email along with graduation instructions. If you do not know your ring size, you can stop by L268 or L269 to try on rings. Your contact for the ring ceremony is Jennifer Henry.

Q: Is there a page with more information on University Commencement?

A: Yes, information and updates for graduates, family, and guests can be found here.

Q: How can I stay involved with Northwestern after I graduate?

A: Ways to stay involved as an alumnus can be found here.