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Ceremony

Online Graduate Recognition

As there will be some graduates who are unable to travel to D.C. to participate in their commencement ceremony, AU will include in the ceremony an online graduate recognition feature. This will give all graduates a chance to celebrate from anywhere that they might be. On the day of the ceremony, as the commencement is streamed live, videos with individual slides for all March graduates and eligible May and June applicants (as of ealry-April) will be available for viewing on the commencement site. The slides will feature the graduate’s name and degree and will be specific to graduates of each of AU’s seven schools and the Professional Studies and Executive Education programs. In addition, a digital program listing the names of graduates and degree candidates (as of early-April) will be available on the commencement site in the days leading up to the celebration.

Things to Know

All American University Commencement ceremonies take place in Bender Arena. Ceremonies are based on school or college; there is no university wide ceremony. Spring ceremonies run two to two and a half hours. Fall ceremonies run for approximately an hour and a half. 

Photos and full ceremony videos will be available in the highlights section a few days after the ceremony. Graduates and guests are encouraged to use #2021AUgrad for the Fall 2021 ceremony and #2022AUgrad for the Spring 2022 ceremonies on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Graduates should report to line-up areas 45 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony and follow the participant instructions. Only graduating students will be permitted in the line-up assembly areas, and may not be accompanied by family or guests.  

Ceremony Format

Doors open
The doors to Bender Arena will open approximately 45 minutes to one hour before the ceremony. No one will be permitted inside prior to that time. Guests must have their tickets, a valid ID, and proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results ready to show during line-up outside Bender Arena.
Processional
Approximately 10 minutes before the ceremony, graduates and faculty process into the arena. The lobby and entrance are closed to guests during the processional.
Seating
Graduates do not sit alphabetical order and may sit with friends within their academic program. Guests seating is general and can sit anywhere there is no program on the seat or marked reserved.
National Anthem & Invocation
A student singer performs the national anthem, and a chaplain or other spiritual leader delivers an invocation.
Commencement Addresses
American University President Sylvia Burwell delivers an address to graduates, followed by remarks from academic deans, student speakers, and distinguished keynote speakers. The keynote speaker receives an honorary degree from American University.
Recognition of Graduates and Conferral of Degrees
All graduates are announced as they cross the stage and take a photo with President Burwell. During Spring Commencement ceremonies, recipients of University Awards are recognized.
Recessional
Students and faculty recess from the arena.

Live stream

All ceremonies will be live-streamed on the main commencement website page and will appear on the Commencement highlights page a few days after commencement weekend.

See Highlights