Cover Photo Image
Commencement Schedule

Spring 2020 graduates,

I hope this note finds you and yours healthy. Throughout the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we have paid special attention to you, our graduating class. I know this is not what you had in mind for the culmination of your time at JMU, and that the necessary postponement of commencement ceremonies disappointed many of you deeply, as it did me.

That is why I am so pleased to announce today that we have set a date to gather together on-campus in August to celebrate your achievements. In addition, we have planned a full slate of activities, both online in the near term and in-person once it is safe, to recognize your accomplishments.

If it is safe to do so, commencement ceremonies will happen on campus August 7 – 8.

If public health conditions allow, students and their families, friends and loved ones are invited to Harrisonburg to celebrate graduates’ accomplishments in early August. The university will host a series of special events on campus and downtown for graduates on August 6 and 7, culminating with in-person commencement ceremonies on August 7 and 8.

My administration and I are still working to solidify the details, but please be on the lookout for a communication that will ask you to RSVP to the commencement events. It is important that you RSVP, as the number of responses will dictate the format of the events.

If for health and safety reasons we are unable to gather in August, we will host these events at a later date. We hope this does not become necessary, but acknowledge it is a possibility. Please be assured that we’ll do everything we can to provide a memorable commencement experience for you and your families.

In the meantime, you will become an official graduate of JMU on May 8, and we are excited to celebrate that important achievement with you online.

In keeping with JMU’s academic tradition, graduates will have their degrees conferred on May 8, making you official graduates of the institution at that time. On May 8, we will host a virtual conferring of degrees, where you will be able to gather online with friends and family to receive congratulations from me, hear from your student speaker and be formally presented as the Class of 2020. Leading up to May 8, there will be a number of events online and in social media that celebrate you, and you’ll be receiving a special gift in the mail shortly thereafter.

For those of you who have purchased your caps and gowns, this will be an excellent opportunity to practice turning your tassels ahead of our in-person celebration in August. For those who have not yet purchased regalia, you may do so at the JMU Bookstore.

While we don’t have all the details ironed out, I ask that you hold the dates noted above and be on the lookout for more information from us. Additionally, we are looking at ways to engage with you this fall, such as special Homecoming and other events for this year’s graduating class. More to come on that.

I can’t wait to see you back on campus later this summer. Finish the semester strong, and go Dukes!

With warm regards,

Jonathan Alger

President, James Madison University




Grad Requirements

Commencement marks a special day in one's life. We ask that students abide by the Student Conduct Code on Commencement Weekend on the JMU campus where official university ceremonies are taking place. Some of these requirements include refraining from possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages or other controlled substances, being publicly intoxicated, and engaging in disruptive or disorderly conduct.  Possession of alcohol in the stadium, Convocation Center, the Quad and the Alumni Centennial Park is grounds for removal from the ceremony.

All attendees are requested to refrain from bringing food and beverages into any ceremony venues – free water will be available. We ask that students refrain from bringing noisemakers, signs, toys, confetti, streamers, or fireworks to any ceremony. Graduates should expect an inspection of person, bags, and clothing capable of concealing prohibited items. 

All college ceremonies will begin on time, so plan for major traffic congestion. There are many graduates and their families headed in the same direction. Delays are possible. Please plan to arrive early so that you don’t miss any of the celebration. Latecomers will be seated by staff when appropriate. Graduates are also expected to stay for the entire ceremony out of respect for those whose names are called later in the program.

For the safety of all, ushers and public safety officers will be present at all ceremonies and reserve the right to refuse seating to any graduate who is visibly intoxicated, and no alcoholic beverages are permitted.


A Special Note on Attire:

All graduates must wear the proper academic regalia to participate in the commencement ceremonies. This includes the JMU gown, cap, tassel and hood. You are expected to wear the academic regalia for the duration of the ceremonies you attend - this includes both the University ceremony on Friday in Bridgeforth Stadium and the individual ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. If you remove your attire, or are not fully clothed underneath it, you will be escorted out.

Dress appropriately for the day and the occasion. Weather in Harrisonburg can be unpredictable, so please be aware of the forecast and plan to dress comfortably under your academic regalia. We recommend that you choose comfortable footwear, and discourage shoes with high or narrow heels, tall platforms or wedges. You also want to wear something that allows you to walk across the stage easily and keep comfortable during the lengthy graduation ceremony. The ceremonies are held rain or shine. Should it be raining when you arrive, a clear poncho will be provided.

While there is no formal dress code, we do ask that all students adhere to these guidelines and suggestions. You will be taking selfies, family photos, group photos with friends — so, you'll want to look sharp.  


Dr. Heather Coltman

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Back to Top