Will extended family be able to attend graduation? 
The ceremony will be open to all graduates and their guests.

Is there a limit to how many guests a graduating student can invite to commencement?
Currently, there is no limit on the number of guests invited and tickets will not be required to attend.
Seating is first come, first serve please make sure your guests arrive early for the best seats. All guests should be seated prior to the beginning of the processional at 9:30 a.m. Once the processional starts, access to seating is very limited.

I am a Law student, where can I find information regarding the Law Commencement ceremony?
Information on the Law Commencement Ceremony can be found here. 

On which side of the cap does the tassel go?
Before graduating, tassels should be on your right. After graduating, tassels should be moved to your left.

How do I wear my hood?
During the procession, drape your hood over your left arm, felt facing your wrist, until you get to your seat. To put your hood on, remove your cap and face the small button loop at the front center of the robe aligning it with your neck. The velvet lining should drape around your shoulders. Turn the bottom half of the hood outward so that the satin lining with the Catholic University colors are showing. For this last part, ask a fellow classmate sitting near you for help if you need another hand.

Where do I get my honor cords?
Honors cords are given out by the individual honor societies. You should receive information from your honor society about purchasing cords for Commencement.

What happens if it rains?
The University will make every attempt to hold the main Commencement ceremony outdoors regardless of the weather. In the case of light rain, the outdoor ceremony will be shortened appropriately. If the weather precludes the outdoor ceremony, an announcement will be made on the CatholicU website no later than 8.00 a.m. 

Will there be a rehearsal?
No, there will not be a rehearsal. It is extremely important that you read all emails from your academic school regarding Commencement.

What if I have multiple majors?
Students with multiple majors should attend the degree ceremony for the school of their primary major, as that is the only school from which they are actually earning a degree.

Will I be recognized individually?
Each student will be recognized individually at her/his academic school's diploma ceremony.

Will there be water available at the Commencement Ceremony?
In an effort to reduce plastic waste we will not be providing water bottles at the main Commencement Ceremony. We encourage guests to bring their own refillable water bottles to use at our water bottle refill station. The water station will be located near Shahan Hall during the Commencement Ceremony. 

Student FAQs

When am I actually a graduate?
Each year, the University President, Provost, and Chancellor confer degrees at the University Commencement Ceremony.  The conferral, or awarding, of degrees is when the degree is technically completed and graduation occurs.

What is covered by the graduation fee?
The graduation fee is used to underwrite the cost of processing candidates for graduation, Commencement exercises and related activities. Participation in the University and/or school exercises is afforded at no additional cost to graduates and their guests. The fee does not cover academic regalia. It is recognized that not all students will use the benefits made available by the fee, but the services supported by the fee are available to all graduating students. The fee applies to all students who graduate from The Catholic University of America and will be applied directly to the student's account during the term they anticipate graduating.

How will I receive information regarding Commencement?
You will receive information regarding Commencement by email. Comprehensive information will also be available on the Commencement website.

How do I order my graduation cap and gown or graduation announcements?
Please visit Grad Fair and More. Students may also visit the campus bookstore to purchase regalia, announcements, diploma frames, etc.

Where to get information about Class ring purchase and blessing?
Please visit Rings for details. Class rings can be ordered here by Friday, April 21.

What is the Honors Convocation?
The Honors Convocation recognizes students elected to membership in national honor societies, students that have completed at least one track in the UHP curriculum, and those who have achieved individual honors in their specific disciplines. Students in one or more of the aforementioned categories and their families and friends are invited to attend the ceremony. Students should wear their gowns, but they should not wear their caps or hoods.


Graduates and Guests Seeking Accommodations
The Catholic University of America wants all of the Class of 2023 graduates and guests to have the very best experience while attending Commencement related ceremonies.  The Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) has ...read more


Where can I park my car?
Parking is free for any commencement activities. Please see the parking spaces here.


Do you have a list of recommended lodging?
For a list of local hotels, please click here.

Baccalaureate Mass

When is Baccalaureate Mass?
Baccalaureate Mass is a time to give thanks and reflect on one’s academic experience at Catholic University. It is an important spiritual component of our annual commencement activities.

Instructions for Baccalaureate Mass?
The Baccalaureate Mass is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Students are asked to wear their academic gowns, without hoods and caps. Students will assemble in front of McMahon Hall at 2:20 p.m., and members of the administration and faculties on the west side of McMahon Hall. The procession, led by the University Marshal, will move promptly at 2:30 p.m. Faculty members are strongly encouraged to participate.

(In the event of inclement weather, if announced prior to the ceremony, the procession will form in Memorial Hall, on the lower level of the Basilica.)

Candidates for degrees will not genuflect in the aisle as they will be directed to their seats by ushers from the Division of Student Affairs.

It should be noted that the Baccalaureate Mass is typically standing room only, so parents and friends who plan to attend should take their seats as soon as possible after 2:15 p.m. No seating will be allowed in the Basilica for the Mass prior to 2:15 p.m. in order to accommodate those attending the Honors Convocation for Undergraduates.

Will there be low gluten Consecrated Hosts at the Baccalaureate Mass?
For those needing to receive  Holy Communion by consuming low gluten Consecrated Hosts, please come to the principal celebrant's Communion station in the main aisle. 

Who can receive Holy Communion at Baccalaureate Mass?

For Catholics

As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.

For our fellow Christians

We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one" (Jn 17:21).

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 §4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 §3).

For those not receiving Holy Communion

All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.

For non-Christians

We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.

© 1996, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Additional Questions

Contact the Commencement team at cua-commencement@cua.edu  or 202-319-5291 if you have other questions concerning commencement activities.