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Frequently Asked Questions

Commencement Ceremony

My son/daughter has a major and two (2) minors; which ceremony will they attend?

It is customary that graduates process in their major only.

 

My son/daughter has a double major; which regalia do they purchase? 

The graduate will purchase the cap/gown that corresponds to the ceremony in which they will attend. 

 

My son/daughter has a double major. Which ceremony should they attend? 

It is the choice of the graduate as to which ceremony they will attend and they need to inform the Registrar’s office of their choice. 

 

Should the graduate and their family plan to attend the University Commencement AND the individual college ceremony? 

YES!!  Both ceremonies are very memorable and worthwhile. The University Commencement will include an address by President Alger, the Guest Speaker, traditional music, pomp and circumstance. The graduates sit with their friends and enjoy the Godwin Field Reception afterward, where they will reconnect with their family members. The graduates will NOT process or recess and will not walk across the stage. The individual college ceremonies are held in various locations around the campus on Saturday (except CoB after university ceremony) and each graduate will have assigned seating and walk across the stage when their name is read, to receive their scroll. During both ceremonies the graduates wear their regalia (cap, gown and tassel). 

 

When do guests need to be in their seats? 

A minimum of 45 minutes prior to ceremony time. This will ensure all get a good seat. Gates to the University Ceremony will open at 1:30 p.m. 

Are tickets required? 

NO, not for any ceremony and each graduate may have as many guests as needed.

 

Do graduates cross the stage at the University Commencement? 


No; they will cross the stage during their college ceremonies, when their names are read. 

Where do I sit at the ceremonies? 

At the University Ceremony there are no designated seats. You are welcome to sit in any of the graduate seats with your friends. At the individual College ceremonies you will sit in the group of assigned seats for your major but may also sit with your friends. Don’t forget to take your name card to the “reader” when you process to the stage.  If you forget yours, there are blank ones available in each aisle.  You MUST take a card with you to the stage when your name is read.

 

What happens if I am late to a ceremony?  

For all ceremonies, you will be seated after the faculty process and are seated on the stage, approximately 15 minutes into the program. Please see a college coordinator when you arrive and they will assist you. 

 

Where do I go prior to Commencement?
 

For the University Ceremony, students should be in their seats 30 minutes prior to the start of the event (2:30 p.m.) All students will enter through Gate D, which is located near the Godwin Transit Center side of the stadium. 

For individual college ceremonies, students should go directly to their college ceremony location, arriving 45 minutes prior to the ceremony start time. Some colleges process and others don't. Students will receive additional information from their college on specifics for the day of their ceremony.

What will security be like?  

Most ceremonies will have security checkpoints: University Ceremony, The Graduate School ceremony, College of Business, and College of Health and Behavioral Studies. All guest bags will be checked so we encourage you to leave bags at home if possible to speed up the process of entering the ceremonies.  

 

What will I be prohibited from bringing into the Stadium and the Convocation Center? 

Items not allowed: 

  • Alcoholic beverages, controlled substances, weapons, fireworks 
  • Animals (service animals are permitted) 
  • Bags larger than 12"x12"x12" 
  • Coolers 
  • Glass and metal containers 
  • Food and beverages (though one unopened bottle of water per person and food for a baby are permitted) 
  • Signs, flags, banners, or obscene or indecent clothing 
  • Large strollers (umbrella style are permitted) 
  • Wheelies, bicycles, and skateboards 

 

Items ALLOWED: 

  • One unopened bottle of water per person 
  • Umbrella-style strollers. We allow other strollers in to be stored under bleachers. JMU is not responsible for the stroller or contents!  

Once my graduate's name is called and he/she crosses the stage, can we leave? 

No. Out of respect for the other graduates, all graduates and their guests are expected to stay until the ceremony is over. However, if it is necessary to exit early, we ask you to move quickly and quietly so that you do not disrupt those around you. 

Miscellaneous

How many people are expected to attend this year’s ceremonies? 

 Approximately 25,000 students, faculty, staff, and guests will be on campus commencement weekend. Please ensure that you build in additional travel time to arrive at your ceremony 45 minutes prior to the start. Utilizing JMU shuttles and Harrisonburg Transit buses can assist you in arriving on time and not getting stuck in traffic.  

 

Do graduates receive their diplomas during Commencement weekend?
 

No, diplomas are mailed to graduates over the summer once all grades are entered by professors and the Registrar’s office finalizes their graduation requirements. Please ensure the Registrar’s Office (https://www.jmu.edu/registrar/) has your correct address on file. 

Where can I watch the live video stream of Commencement? 

View the live video stream of the Graduate School ceremony on Thursday and the university ceremony on Friday afternoon at the JMU website:  www.jmu.edu.

The college ceremonies are not live streamed.

Is there a video available of the ceremonies? 

Yes, you can purchase a DVD of each college ceremony; information related to ordering videos will become available in early April. There is also a mail order video request form on the commencement website (https://www.jmu.edu/commencement/may-commencement-information/photography-videography.shtml). 

Academic Regalia and Announcements/Invitations

How do I purchase announcements?

Announcements can be purchased various ways: 

  1. Generic announcements will be sold at the JMU Grad Fair on April 3 or 4
  2. You may also order individual/customized announcements online through Herff Jones (https://www.herffjones.com) and then select “James Madison University” for our specific announcements.
  3. At the JMU bookstore during their regular hours.

How do I purchase my cap & gown?
 

Caps & Gowns will be available for all graduating seniors or Masters students for purchase at the Grad Fair in the Bridgeforth Stadium Club level on April 3 and 4. After the Grad Fair, caps & gowns will be available for purchase at the bookstore. Please check the newsletter and website for updates and information regarding regalia.

Is there a charge for a cap & gown? 

Yes, 2017 prices will be finalized and posted on the website by the end of February.

What if I lose my tassel just prior to the ceremony? 

Please see one of the ushers or events team members to obtain a new tassel. We can’t promise that it will be the correct color, but we will at least be able to offer you a tassel to wear.

What is the Grad Fair?   

The Grad Fair is held annually to assist graduating seniors with one-stop shopping for all things commencement-related. This year’s Grad Fair will be held Monday, April 3 and 4 in the Club level of Bridgeforth Stadium. All graduates are encouraged to attend to purchase their regalia (cap, gown and tassel), take professional or graduate photos, visit with Alumni Relations and more!  

Mobility Accommodations for the ceremonies

Due to the nature of the outdoor locations for the college ceremonies, we encourage those friends and family with mobility issues to attend the University Ceremony on Friday afternoon for all graduates. We are most able to accommodate those individuals in this new, accessible stadium.

Is there a separate entrance for guests with disabilities at the stadium? 

Yes! for the University Ceremony on Friday at BFS: 

-  Arrive at least 90-120 minutes early to secure a parking space in the Champions parking deck and take the elevators to the ground floor and proceed to entrance Gate H (beside Gate A) where an elevator will take them to the main concourse level.  From there it is a short distance to Section 202 where they will find seats around the entire stadium that are on that level.  Only the disabled person, plus one may sit on this level – the other family members can sit in front of, or behind those seats.

-  Accessible parking is available in lot C4 which is beside D-Hub.  From there, a para-transit bus will take guests to Gate C (see below)

-  If you arrive to the stadium by bus or shuttle, you will arrive at Gate C – once inside, there is a ramp that will take you to the endzone section of seats.  This level walkway will take you around to the main seating area where there will be seating that does not require stairs.

- Another option is to sit directly on the field in a reserved section near the endzone inside Gate C.  Only the individual in the wheelchair, plus 1 will be allowed to sit here. 

 

*  Guests who cannot walk long distances are encouraged to bring a wheelchair as they are not provided on campus. 

 

If you still have questions please contact the University Events Department for additional assistance.

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