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Student Instructions


When to Wear Regalia

Full Regalia (caps, gowns, hoods): Walk Across Campus & Commencement Ceremony

Caps/Gowns (no hoods): Candlelight Ceremony (tassel on the right side of the mortar board)

Regalia Details

Graduates participating in the main ceremony must wear the W&M-approved regalia. Regalia consist of a robe, a cap, a tassel, and a hood with colors indicating the graduate's degree.

Military: Active duty or retired members of the U.S. armed services may have the option to wear a military uniform appropriate for the occasion at commencement ceremonies.

Hood Colors: Arts (White), Business (Drab-Tan), Science (Gold), Education Masters (Light Blue), Public Policy (Peacock Blue) (color is different than Education hood)

Tassel: The tassel is worn on the right side of the mortar board until the degree is awarded, at which time it is moved to the left. Mortar boards may not have inappropriate messages attached.

Clothing Underneath: Type of dress for underneath the robe is up to the graduating student and should be tasteful and appropriate. We suggest business or business-casual attire.

Bell Ringing & Photo Ops

President's House Garden

President Rowe will open the President’s House Garden to students who would like to use the space for photos in their Commencement regalia.

  • Stop by on Wednesday or Thursday between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Enter using the gate on the Wren Yard side of the garden.

Weekend Bell-Ringing

Graduating students who could not participate in the bell-ringing tradition during the last week of classes have the opportunity to ring the Wren Bell when they return for Commencement Weekend

Dates & Times

  • Friday, May 21 (6:30 - 8:00 p.m.)
  • Saturday, May 22 (11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)
  • Sunday, May 23 (11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)


  • No registration required.
  • Line-up begins outside of the courtyard fence.
  • The Wren Building is open ONLY to members of the William & Mary community (faculty, staff, students). A current student who is not graduating may accompany you to take a photo, but family or friends outside of the W&M community are not permitted inside.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Line-up will begin outside the courtyard fence (on the Sunken Garden side of the Wren Building). Volunteers will be there to assist.
  • Be sure to maintain at least 6 feet between others while waiting in line.
  • Graduates must wash their hands in the center hall Wren restroom prior to ringing the Wren Bell. There will be hand sanitizer for you after ringing the bell.
  • No food or drink is permitted inside the Wren Building.
  • The entire process should take anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on how many students are ringing the bell during your time slot.

Main Ceremony


Tickets will be emailed to graduates by Wednesday, May 19. You may then forward the tickets to your guests to display on their phone, or they may print out their tickets to be scanned. If using a phone, guests should have the tickets open and ready for scanning when they reach the entry gate. Each ticket scans only once, so electronic tickets may not be duplicated.

Mask Requirements

In response to updated public health guidance and continuing increases in vaccination in our area and at the university, William & Mary is updating our masking policies as of May 18.

  • Students and guests must wear a face covering while in any shared indoor space, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Outdoor Commencement ceremonies will not require masks, but we will continue to observe the six-foot minimum distancing built into initial plans to protect those not yet vaccinated. Individuals not yet vaccinated are advised to wear masks and observe physical distancing guidelines.
  • W&M is not prohibiting masks nor distancing and will support you if you choose to continue to do so for your own comfort or for the protection of those who are unable to be vaccinated.

What Not to Bring

Alcohol, non-disposable water bottles. Beverage containers will be collected and will not be returned.


Each student will receive a factory-sealed bottle of water before the Walk begins. Bottles of water will also be provided under your seat at the ceremony.

Walk Across Campus

If you would like to participate in the Walk Across Campus, gather at the back of the Wren Building (Sunken Garden side) 75 minutes before your ceremony. The walk will cross the Crim Dell bridge and end at the Sadler Center Terrace (line-up location). View a map of the Walk Across Campus (pdf).

If the Thunder Plan is activated, report to Kaplan Arena one hour before your scheduled ceremony start time.

Line Up

If you DO NOT plan to participate in the Walk Across Campus, you will need to meet at the Sadler Center Terrace 45 minutes before your scheduled ceremony. We will line you up by major/program.

If the Thunder Plan is called, report to Kaplan Arena one hour before your scheduled ceremony start time.


Graduates will be seated on the field, separated by at least 6 feet, according to major. See the diagrams below for the approximate location of each major. Note the Sadler Center location is toward the bottom of each diagram.

Crossing the Stage

Each graduate will have a chance to cross a ramp-accessible stage to have your name read out loud. Names will be grouped by your major.

The diploma you receive when crossing the stage is not your actual diploma and will not have your name on it. Most graduates will be able to pick up their real diploma at a central location on campus on Friday and Saturday of Commencement Weekend (full details below).


A professional photographer will be there to take your picture after you have crossed the stage. Students will receive more information about how to order and purchase their photos.


At the end of the ceremony, students will recess out of the stadium. Please move away from the stadium to avoid congregating in groups.

Diploma Pick-Up



  • Friday, May 21 (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
  • Saturday, May 22 (9:00 a.m. - noon).
  • Diplomas not picked up during these time frames will be mailed to permanent home address in Banner


  • Last Names A-L = Monroe Tent
  • Last Names M-Z = Blair Tent
  • Lines form on Richmond Road side; exit toward Sunken Garden
  • Limited short-term parking available in Dawson Circle (front of Blow)
  • Inclement Weather: Blow 201


  • Bring your W&M photo ID
  • Requests for proxy (someone else to pick up your diploma) must be emailed to before 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 20
  • Physical distancing must be observed; please come unaccompanied by family or non-graduating friends
  • Masks required
  • Be flexible when possible - come back if the lines are long when you arrive

Graduate Students

Arts & Sciences

  • Diplomas will be mailed to permanent home address in Banner
  • If individual program diplomas are ready by May 2021, students will receive email regarding pick up


Friday, May 21:

  • MBA programs: Flex MBA, Full-time MBA & Online MBA (10:00 a.m. to noon)
  • One Year Masters: MAcc, MSBA & Online MSBA (noon to 2:00 p.m.)
  • No diploma pick-up from 2:00 p.m. until after ceremony concludes.
  • MBA programs: Flex MBA, Full-tim MBA & Online MBA (Immediately after until 8:00 pm)
  • One Year Masters: MAcc, MSBA & Online MSBA (6:30 to 8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, May 22:

  • All remaining business grad students (10:00 a.m. to noon)


  • All vehicles enter SOE from Mt. Vernon Ave
    • Friday, May 21 (10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
    • Saturday, May 22 (2:00 - 5:00 p.m.)
  • Drive through diploma pick up at front of building
  • Treyburn Ave @ traffic light designated exit only


  • Pick up times and location will be announced by Tuesday, May 18. The Law School will send an announcement directly to Law grads.

Marine Science

  • Pick up Friday, May 21 from 9:00 a.m. - noon at the Academic Studies Suite on VIMS campus. Contact John Griffin at with questions.