Frequently Asked Questions

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The procession steps off promptly at 9:45 a.m. Seniors must line up on Waterman Street no later than 9:30 a.m. Graduate students must line up by 9 a.m. Seniors, medical students and graduate students process through the Van Wickle Gates and split off to their separate ceremony locations, with seniors proceeding down the hill to the First Baptist Church in America. During the senior ceremony in the church, families and friends are encouraged to find seats on the College Green, where large video screens will broadcast the proceedings. All degree recipients will return to the College Green for the University ceremony, which will begin at approximately 1:15 p.m.

In general, the University ceremony ends on the College Green around 2 p.m., with individual departmental diploma ceremonies occurring afterward, from approximately 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. These departmental ceremonies are a place for undergraduate students to not only get their diploma(s) but also to say farewell to their colleagues and professors.

There will be a live video broadcast of the Procession, College ceremony and University ceremony to the College Green, Salomon Center and Sayles Hall. Many other ceremonies will also be livestreamed on the web.

On-campus: Reservations for on-campus dormitory housing will be available for friends and family of students participating in Commencement as well as alumni celebrating Reunion. Room reservations are now being accepted online. 

Off-campus: For information about off-campus hotels and other lodgings, please refer to Brown's Travel Portal Page.

Since the majority of events are outside, guests are strongly encouraged to dress according to the weather - layers are usually a good recommendation overall. While some guests enjoy getting dressed up for Campus Dance, there is no formal dress code. For the Commencement ceremonies, guests are welcome to wear what they would like, but the majority of guests often wear business casual attire. Comfortable shoes and flats are also recommended. 

Baccalaureate is an optional multifaith ceremony for undergraduates only that takes place on Saturday. Please view the Baccalaureate page for more information.

One of Brown's best-loved Reunion and Commencement traditions, Campus Dance brings over 11,000 people to Brown to dance the night away under a sky lit with over 600 paper lanterns. The evening joins together graduating seniors and their families, alumni of all ages, and Brown faculty and staff. Everyone enjoys meeting old classmates, seeing favorite professors and being with friends and family. Call 401-863-7783 for more information, or visit the Campus Dance website.

Tickets are not required for any of the Commencement ceremonies. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The reserved sections of open seats in the center at the University Ceremony are for the seniors and graduate and medical students. 

All degrees are symbolically conferred during the University ceremony. Undergraduate students who have completed their degree requirements in Summer 2019 or later will receive their diplomas at their diploma ceremony, which immediately follows the University ceremony.

International students in F1/J1 nonimmigrant status who wish to invite family members to attend Commencement should contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) for more information. Visitor may also request a letter by filling out the tourist visa letter request form.

For emergencies or urgent medical care, call 401-863-4111 (3-4111 from a campus phone, indicated around campus by blue lights; you may also choose to use the red emergency button at these phones). Emergency medical personnel will be available at major campus functions throughout the weekend and will be happy to assist you.

Brown Health Services, located at Andrews House at 13 Brown Street, will be open Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. Twenty-four-hour nursing advice is available by calling 401-863-1330. 

Brown's Department of Public Safety coordinates the lost and found desk. If you find an item, bring it to Department of Public Safety headquarters at 75 Charlesfield St. Call 401-863-3322 regarding any lost items.

You can visit our Welcome Kiosk located on the College Green. 

If you must bring a pet to Commencement, please remember that the weather is unpredictable and the College Green is very crowded. All pets should be kept on leashes while on campus throughout the entire weekend. Pets are not allowed indoors, unless the pet is for medical assistance.

The best place to take a photograph of your graduating student is at the afternoon diploma ceremony following the University exercises on the College Green. In addition, the Van Wickle Gates will remain open through 6 p.m. on Monday. The Brown bear statue, "Bruno," on the College Green near Faunce House Arch is another favorite location for photos.

View the Storm Plan page for more information.

In short, yes. Commencement day at Brown University is a time of great ceremony, pageantry and rejoicing, much of it representing traditions that are centuries old. 

The day begins with a procession during which the candidates for degrees march across the College Green, led by the chief marshal party, Brown band, presidential party, Corporation, senior administration and faculty. In addition, alumni who have returned for Reunion march with their classes. Once the last person is through the Van Wickle Gates on the Front Green, the procession inverts and continues down College Street, with each participant applauding the others.

The medical school adjourns to the First Unitarian Church on Benefit and Benevolent streets. The Graduate School continues its procession to two locations for the Doctoral and Master's Ceremonies. The procession begins at 9:45 a.m.

The senior class marches down College, Benefit and Waterman streets to the First Baptist Church in America and assembles on the lawn. Family and friends wait on the College Green, where large screens afford a continuous view of the proceedings. Afterward, the seniors walk up the hill and take seats on the College Green for the University ceremony.

Following the University ceremony, undergraduates attend diploma ceremonies where they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.