When and where is Commencement?

The date for Commencement is Sunday, May 16, 2021, in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on the Lawrence campus.   

The ceremony is approximately two hours in length. Beginning at 10:30 a.m., graduates will participate in the traditional walk down the Hill, followed by a program culminating in the conferral of degrees by Chancellor Douglas A. Girod.

Graduates do not need to sign up or register to participate. Graduates should gather on Memorial Drive by 10 a.m. to participate in the procession down the Hill.

Family, friends or guests do not need tickets to attend Commencement.

Names of graduates are not read during the ceremony, nor are diplomas presented at Commencement.

What is the difference in the words, "graduation", "commencement", "recognition/award ceremonies"?

“Graduation” is the term for completing your course of study at the university and fulfilling the requirements for your degree. 

“Commencement” refers to the university-wide ceremony celebrating those who are receiving their degrees from all University of Kansas schools in a given year.  At the Commencement ceremony, the chancellor of the university symbolically confers the degrees after the deans of the schools present their respective candidates.  Attending the Commencement ceremony is not required to graduate, but the tradition of walking through the World War II Memorial Campanile and down the Hill into the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium through a corridor of faculty members is something special that graduates remember and cherish as they move to the next stage of their lives.

“Recognition Ceremonies/Convocations/Awards programs/Commissioning Ceremonies” refers to the 60+ events that the 13 schools and college, individual departments or special interest groups coordinate on the Lawrence campus or by the KU Medical Center.   Please refer to the “Events” for the schedule.

Where can I get information about the recognition ceremony for my school?

The University of Kansas tradition holds that all degrees are conferred by the chancellor of the university at the Commencement ceremony, in which members of all schools are welcome to participate.

Recognition Ceremonies or other named events are organized separately by the 13 schools or college or sponsoring departments and take place at various times and locations and may require tickets.  Although the Commencement website is updated regularly, please confirm all dates, times, locations and qualifications to participate with your school before making final plans.  For specific information, please refer to “Events”.    

My grandparents will be attending and cannot walk long distances. Where can we park?

Depending on which event you are attending, please refer to the parking information under "Guests".  You may also want to check Accessibility of guests in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium at the same page.  

Where can I find accessible restrooms in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium?

Accessible restrooms are located on the lower level east and west concourses accessible by stadium elevators.  More information is available under "Guests".

Are there video recordings or photos available from Commencement or Recognition Ceremonies?

 A “WEBCAST” of the Commencement ceremony is available on the Commencement website for live, online viewing the day of Commencement.  There are no DVDs or downloadable copies available for purchase.

KU will post the entire Commencement ceremony for viewing on-demand.  It will be posted by June 1 and will be available through December 31.

Some Recognition Ceremonies do live webcasts and/or post the taped ceremony.  Please direct any inquiries about videos to the respective schools.

GradImages is the official photographer for Commencement and recognition ceremonies.  Photos may be purchased by referring to their webpage.

Toll-Free: (800) 261-2576
3490 Martin Hurst Road
Tallahassee, FL 32312

Graduation photos taken between 2012 and 2016, should contact Lifetouch Photography at the following link:   Lifetouch


How do I obtain my cap and gown?

All academic regalia, including mortarboard or tam, gown, tassels and hoods, can be purchased through the KU Bookstore.  KU Bookstores on all campuses carry academic attire.

Each fall and spring, the KU Bookstore holds Grad Fairs, and graduates are encouraged to attend and purchase regalia, announcements, diploma frames, etc.

Where do I line up, and when, for the Commencement ceremony?

Graduates from each of the 13 schools and college line up along Memorial Drive.  Please refer to the MAP to determine which side of the Memorial Campanile your school/college is listed. This is also good information to share with your family, friends or guests if they choose to line the sidewalks leading to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

When the procession begins, graduates should follow the University Marshal (dressed in crimson and blue ceremonial regalia) instructions through the Memorial Campanile, down the Hill, into Memorial Stadium, through the photo tents, and down the center of the football field to the seating area in the west side of the stadium.

Graduates are encouraged to participate in the entire Commencement ceremony, but if a graduate chooses to leave early, please go through the entire walk and then leave.  Departing at any other point of the procession causes a disruption for other graduates.

When do I get my diploma?

Diploma Distribution

Lawrence Campus
Graduates can pick up their diploma at the Office of the University Registrar, KU Visitor Center, 15th and Iowa after July 15.  The Registrar’s Office will contact graduates when diplomas are ready for pick-up. A photo ID will be required.

Edwards Campus
Graduates must complete a “Diploma Request Form” at the Regents Center front desk.  The Registrar’s Office will contact graduates when diplomas are ready for pick-up.  A photo ID will be required.

KU Medical Center

M.D. graduates will receive their diplomas during the School of Medicine hooding ceremony.

Graduates can pick up their diploma and/or certificates at the Office of the Registrar, 3014 Student Center after July 1.  A photo ID will be required.

Mailing of Diplomas (Lawrence, Edwards and KU Medical Center)

Graduates who prefer to have their diplomas mailed must complete the Diploma Delivery Request function within Enroll & Pay.   Be sure to update your mailing address.

Additional information or questions can be directed to the Office of the University Registrar:  http://registrar.ku.edu/diplomas

Reminder:  Diplomas will not be provided for graduates with financial and/or other obligations to the University of Kansas

What color tassel do I purchase?

Undergraduate tassels represent the academic colors of the discipline of study; Masters & Ph.D. hoods will have corresponding colors for advanced degrees.

  • Architecture & Design: light purple (blue-violet)
  • Business: light brown (drab)
  • Education: light blue
  • Engineering: orange
  • Journalism: cardinal (crimson)
  • Health Professions: mint (sage green)
  • Liberal Arts & Sciences: white
  • Music: pink
  • Nursing: apricot
  • Pharmacy: olive green
  • Social Welfare: citron

Doctoral and master's candidates wear black tassels. Law graduates wear purple.

Souvenir red and blue KU tassels and Jayhawk zipper pulls are available for purchase.


In the event of inclement weather, why doesn’t KU move the ceremony indoors?

Given the size of Commencement, it is not logistically feasible to move the ceremony to an indoor location. Other than David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, we do not have a facility to accommodate the nearly 35,000 anticipated attendees. Allen Fieldhouse has a capacity of 16,000 and is not an approved storm shelter.

If at all possible, the ceremony will be shortened to allow students to participate in the KU Tradition of walking through the Memorial Campanile, down the Hill, so graduates can be presented by their respective deans and have degrees conferred by Chancellor Douglas A. Girod.

Safety is our top priority. The University of Kansas may need to cancel Commencement due to inclement weather if it cannot begin at 10:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. as planned.

The majority of students have participated in a school or department-specific recognition ceremony during the weekend.

Are children welcome at the Commencement ceremony?

Absolutely, children are welcome to attend. No tickets are required to participate.

Please keep in mind that Commencement is a fairly crowded outdoor event-especially the sidewalk areas from Memorial Drive to Memorial Stadium-with little space to move around which may prove a challenging environment for small children.

Are tickets required for Commencement?

No, tickets are not required for the Commencement ceremony in Memorial Stadium.

Reminder:  Some school and department recognition events / ceremonies in other venues may require tickets. Students are responsible for making arrangements for tickets with their school or departments. Refer to Schedule of Events.


What are the words to the Alma Mater?

Alma Mater (Crimson and the Blue)

Far above the golden valley
Glorious to view,
Stands our noble Alma Mater,
Towering toward the blue.


Lift the chorus ever onward,
Crimson and the blue
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater,
Hail to old KU.

Far above the distant humming
Of the busy town,
Reared against the dome of heaven,
Looks she proudly down.


Greet we then our foster mother,
Noble friend so true,
We will ever sing her praises,
Hail to old KU.


What is Mount. Oread /The Hill?

Pronounced: OR-ee-ad

The curving limestone ridge where KU’s main campus was built received this name from Ferdinand Fuller on Aug. 1, 1854. He was in the first contingent of New England Emigrant Aid Society settlers led by Charles Robinson and sent by Boston-area abolitionists to the Kansas Territory to ensure that it joined the Union as a free state. Fuller named the hill after the Oread Institute in his hometown, Worcester, Mass.; in Greek mythology an oread is a mountain nymph. 

In 1924, graduates march from Strong Hall down the Hill and into Memorial Stadium for Commencement

In May 1951 the WWII Memorial Campanile was dedicated which led to the tradition of walking through the Campanile, down the Hill and into Memorial Stadium for Commencement

Regalia – What is the history?

The University of Kansas follows the Academic Costume Code

Faculty members and graduating students wear gowns, mortarboards, hoods, tams and tassels-traditional regalia at the world’s oldest universities. This academic garb not only contributes to the colorful pageantry of the ceremony but also signifies the wearer’s academic discipline and the institution that granted the degree.

Bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates wear classic black mortarboards. Bachelor’s candidates wear a tassel in a color that indicates their school; master’s candidates wear a black tassel. Doctoral degree candidates wear a black velvet tam with a short black tassel.

Gown styles symbolize the level of academic achievement. The gowns for bachelor’s candidates have square-cut sleeves and are worn closed. The gowns for master’s candidates have a long oblong panel at the sleeves. Doctoral candidates wear gowns with bell-shaped sleeves trimmed with velvet chevrons.  These gowns may be worn open or closed.

Candidates for master’s and doctoral degrees wear draped hoods that signify their academic attainment. The lining of each hood is in the university colors, crimson and blue. The 4-inch-wide velvet edging signifies the discipline in which the degree was earned.

The University of Kansas works to follow the American Council on Education guidelines for academic ceremonies regarding gowns. According to the American Council on Education, in response to numerous requests from institutions, the Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies in 1959 prepared a guide regarding ceremonial regalia at commencement, convocations, hooding ceremonies, and other academic occasions.

“Gowns: At ceremonies where degrees are conferred, it is proper for a candidate to wear the gown in keeping with the degree to be received.”  At KU, students, faculty and staff are required to wear academic regalia when participating in commencement and hooding ceremonies.  Members of the faculty that have received their commissions may choose to wear their military uniforms when representing their departments at Commencement.

Commencement is a time of celebration and we recognize that liberties are taken with the traditional academic costume during the walk down the Hill, but as this is an academic ceremony at which degrees are conferred, the University of Kansas will continue to require students to follow the time-honored tradition.

Alumni Association