Frequently Asked Questions

Before the Ceremony

Dual degree students fulfill the requirements for two bachelor’s programs and earn a total of 150 credit hours. These students can participate in either or both schools’ ceremonies, are listed twice in the commencement program (once for each school/college), and receive two separate diplomas. Double major students are expected to participate in their “home” school’s ceremony, are listed once in the commencement program, and receive one diploma. Check your Student Planning report to verify your “home” school. See your advisor if you have questions.

During Spring Commencement ceremonies, each school or college selects one undergraduate and one graduate student to give an address. Individual schools and colleges handle the selection process for student speakers, and each one is different. Contact your commencement coordinator for more details.

During the Fall Commencement ceremonies, when only two ceremonies are held, the university selects two undergraduate and two graduate students to address graduates of all schools and colleges. Learn more about speaking at the fall commencement ceremony.

Honorary degree recipients must be approved by the school or college's dean, the president, and the Board of Trustees and are selected based on meritorious contributions to society or to American University in fields related to the school or college. The process typically begins one year in advance. All commencement speakers are announced at the same time in early April. If you would like to recommend someone to receive an honorary degree and speak at Spring Commencement, please contact your dean’s office. Please provide as much information as possible including your reason for recommending the individual, any personal connection you may have, and contact information if possible.

See the University Awards website for additional information about the awards and criteria. The nomination process will begin in late January. Professors and advisers can nominate students, and students can also nominate themselves. Please note that University Awards are only given during the spring commencement season.

Tickets are required for guest admittance for all ceremonies. Students may bring up to six (6) guests for their ceremony. Children under age 3 who will be sitting in an adult's lap during the entire ceremony do not require a ticket. If the child needs a seat of their own, they will require a ticket. Graduating students and guests should review health and safety requirements for participation in commencement. Learn more about tickets

We request our graduates and guests to review day-of instructions before coming to campus. 

In order to walk in a commencement ceremony you must wear a cap and gown designed especially for American University. Students not wearing the proper regalia will not be permitted to walk in the ceremony. The only exception is for active duty service members and students joining the Armed Forces who have received permission from AU Special Events to wear their formal dress uniforms in lieu of academic regalia. Learn more about regalia and dress uniforms

At the Ceremony

Please arrive 45 minutes prior to the start of your ceremony in order to receive your name card, line up, and process into the arena. Day-of instructions including line up locations will be shared with eligible graduates two-three weeks prior to the commencement weekend.

Generally, yes. Graduates do not sit or walk in alphabetical order during commencement, but your friends must be in the same school or college as you and in the same degree candidacy.

Please leave all personal belongings with your guests, in your vehicle during the ceremony or stored in a locker in the University Library. For security purposes, do not leave bags unattended.

We encourage graduates and guests to use public transportation, such as Metro and the AU shuttle, to get to campus. The AU shuttle is complimentary and will run every 10 minutes between the Tenleytown-AU Metro station and the Nebraska Avenue and McKinley/Letts shuttle stops. The north-side shuttle stop behind Kogod will not be in use and the tunnel roadway will be closed over commencement weekend.

Parking on campus will be limited over commencement weekend. One commencement parking pass will be issued to each student who purchases a cap and gown. The cap/gown purchase serves as the graduate’s registration to participate in their school’s commencement ceremony. Eligible graduates can claim their parking pass while claiming their guests tickets.

After the Ceremony

Diplomas will be mailed to graduates at the diploma mailing address indicated on their graduation application approximately six to eight weeks following the end of the term. All AU graduates receive a Certified Electronic Diploma (CeDiploma) in addition to their physical paper diplomas. Students will receive instructions on how to download their CeDiplomas from the diploma company in the email that confirms the shipping of their paper diplomas. Graduates can update their diploma mailing address up to the graduation date by re-visiting their graduation application in Eagle Service. Any diploma mailing address change after that should be sent to graduation_services@american.edu.