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Graduate School

happyhoodingFriday, May 10, 2019

Main Commencement Ceremony

9:00 a.m., Alumni Lawn
Graduates arrival time: 8:25 a.m.

Graduate School Diploma Ceremony

11:00 am Magnolia Lawn on Magnolia Circle 
(near 21st Ave & Edgehill)
Graduates arrival time: 10:30 a.m.


Graduates from August 2018December 2018 and May 2019 are eligible to participate in Commencement ceremonies on May 10, 2019. This includes the Main Ceremony on Alumni Lawn, followed by the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony on Magnolia Lawn. You will receive email messages from both the University Registrar and the Graduate School about confirming your attendance and other important information. Messages will be sent to your permanent (non-VU) email address as specified on your intent to graduate form. Please reply to all messages when requested. The Graduate School will continue to contact graduates until we receive a response. 

Degree candidates must have completed successfully all curriculum requirements and have passed all prescribed examinations by the published deadlines to be allowed to participate in the ceremony. Participating students should plan to attend the main ceremony. Guests and participants will be expected to remain at the respective ceremonies until the conclusion. Much depends on the courtesy and cooperation of all who attend.

Students unable to participate in the graduation ceremony will receive their diploma by mail.

The best way to find information and stay up-to-date on day of changes is to download the Vanderbilt Commencement App for Apple or Android phones. Be sure to turn on notifications for last minute alerts of potential venue changes due to inclement weather.



hood-1All graduating students must order and wear regalia (cap, gown, hood) in order to participate, and are responsible for ordering it through Vanderbilt University.  Students are responsible for renting or purchasing their regalia through Vanderbilt University.  Regalia Order.

Please note:  The deadline for ordering regalia is April 5, 2019.  

Students must pick up their regalia at the upper level of Barnes and Noble at Vanderbilt, located at 2525 West End Avenue, across from Centennial Park, on Wednesday and Thursday, May 8th and 9th, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Please bring a photo ID, or allow someone to present your Vanderbilt ID to pick up your regalia on your behalf.   Regalia will not be available on Alumni Lawn .

The uniformity of regalia, inconsistent only by reason of the particular degree being conferred and by distinctions for individual honors achieved, e.g. Founder’s Medals and class marshal ribbons, symbolizes that each graduate has fulfilled the same requirements for that degree. Depending on preference, PhD graduates from all schools should choose from "PhD Rental" or "PhD Purchase" on the Regalia Order website.  Further clarification of Vanderbilt's academic regalia can be found here.

Rented Student regalia must be returned by Monday, May 14th, by Noon at the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt.

Delay in returning your regalia will make you liable for payment of an additional fee. Masters, Bachelors return Gown only, keep tassel and cap for souvenir. All Doctors return all gown, tam with tassel and hood (unless purchased outright).

Faculty should order, pick up and return regalia as instructed by their dean’s office.  Faculty regalia contacts by school.


Main Commencement Ceremony

The Main Ceremony takes place on Alumni Lawn (Memorial Gymnasium in case of severe weather, see Commencement app) on Friday, May 10. father and son

7:30 – 8:15 a.m.Out of town students arriving in Nashville just before the exercises can obtain regalia at the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt by presenting a photo ID. Anyone presenting your Vanderbilt ID may pick up regalia for you.  Regalia are not available on Alumni Lawn.

8:25 a.m.  Students and faculty report to assembly areas to line up for the Commencement Procession. Promptness in lining up is imperative. Graduate School degree-candidates will be given additional instructions for the individual Graduate School ceremony when they report for the main ceremony. Procession is for degree candidates only. The Graduate School will assemble in the following order and place:

  • Graduate School and School of Engineering Master’s degree candidates (M.A., M.S., M.A.T., M.F.A., M.L.A.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D.) will line up in single file (not in alpha order) beginning between McGill Hall and Tolman Hall facing Alumni Lawn (see DARK BLUE line on the Assembly Area map). The assembly area will be indicated by DARK BLUE signs designating degrees. Faculty line up behind the dean and banner bearer, but in front of the degree candidates.
  • STUDENTS: Bottled water and fans are available on the perimeter of the seating area. Please pick these up before you line up.  Programs will be available at the front of each procession line. Caps are normally worn throughout the exercises. Hoods are worn by all except those receiving bachelor degrees.
  • GUESTS should be seated on Alumni Lawn no later than 8:30 a.m. to see the procession. Bottled water, programs and fans are available on the perimeter of the seating area. Please advise your guests to pick these up on the way to their seats.

9:00 a.m. The procession of candidates enters Alumni Lawn to seating reserved for candidates and faculty as guided by faculty marshals. After students are seated and at the second trumpet signal, the academic procession (the order of procession will be printed in your Commencement Program) will move toward the platform.

10:15 a.m. Recession of graduate and professional school degree recipients and their faculties as instructed by the chair of the Faculty Senate from the platform. These groups will depart as led by a faculty marshal.


Diploma Ceremony

All Graduate School graduates will receive their diplomas and PhD graduates will be hooded at the Diploma Ceremony that directly follows the Main Commencement Ceremony. The Diploma Ceremony will be held at Magnolia Lawn (near 21st Ave and Edgehill Ave) and begins promptly at 11:00 a.m. with graduates arriving at 10:30 a.m.


PhD Hooding

An integral part of the Diploma Ceremony is the hooding of PhD graduates. The doctoral hood, carried on stage by the graduates, is placed over the head and onto the shoulders, symbolizing support of the graduate and passing on of knowledge between one generation of doctorates to another. Generally, the hooding is performed by the faculty advisor, dissertation chair, or another faculty member of the dissertation committee. Asking and arranging for a faculty member to be a hooder is left to the discretion of the graduate. If a graduate does not name a faculty member as a hooder, one of the Graduate School Assistant Deans will act as hooder.



checkinAll graduating students and faculty should arrive at the large white tent on Magnolia Lawn on the Peabody Campus (see map) for the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony by 10:30 a.m. 

Students and faculty will check-in and receive a card with instructions for line-up, processional, hooding, diploma, and photos.

Do not lose the card as it is required to walk across the stage!




Guest Seating

Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in “designated” guest areas under the tent (white chairs are for guests). Handicapped seating is located in the center, front section of the guest seating area. 

Important Instructions:

  • Please keep ALL aisles clear at all times for the processional/recessional.
  • Please refrain from cell phone use during the ceremony.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited inside or around the tent area.
  • Pets are prohibited other than official service animals.



stageYou will give your check-in card to the designated staff member as you enter the ramp leading up to the stage. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School will read graduates' names as they enter the stage.

  • Master's candidates wear their hoods as they cross the stage to shake the Dean's hand and receive their diploma.
  • PhD candidates drape their hood over their left arm. They cross to the center of the stage, stop in front of the hooding platform, then face the audience. The hooder then steps onto the platform, takes the hood from the candidate, and places it over the candidate's head and across the shoulders. After being hooded, graduates  walk across the stage with their hooder to shake the Dean's hand and receive their diploma. 



A professional photographer takes photos as graduates shake hands with the Dean on stage. As a courtesy to all in attendance, please ask your guests to refrain from advancing to the front of the stage area to take photos. After the ceremony, the stage is available for additional graduate and guest photo opportunities.



Magnolia Lawn is located on Magnolia Lawn Circle (near 21st Ave South and Edgehill) on the Peabody Campus. Please refer to this map.



Parking for all guests and participants is available at the 25th Avenue Garage, Kensington Garage, Terrace Place Garage, and Wesley Place Garage. Shuttle buses will be available from all four garages. In addition, a shuttle from the Main Ceremony on Alumni Lawn to the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony on Magnolia Lawn will run at 10:15 am. for special needs guests. Refer to the shuttle service map and the Vanderbilt Commencement website for complete schedules and locations.


Bubbles & Berries Reception

Following the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony, the Bubbles & Berries reception (fruit and champagne) will be served in the adjacent tent for all graduating students and their guests.


Inclement Weather

In the event of inclement weather the ceremony will be held in Memorial Gymnasium. If in doubt, check the Commencement website or call the Vanderbilt telephone operators at 615-322-7311. You may also sign up for the Commencement App for your mobile device which will receive regular updates. 

In Memorial Gym there will be no procession for candidates.

Graduate & Professional: (arrive by 8:15 a.m.) Promptness in arrival is imperative

Degree candidates should enter through the “Student Entrance” located on the south side facing the baseball field and make their way to the west end of the court via the “Southwest Connector.” Graduate School candidates will sit in section 3L. Watch for signs and Faculty Marshals to assist.

Faculty (arrive by 8:30 a.m.) who will be staying for the undergraduate diploma-awarding ceremony, and marching in procession, should enter through the Procession Party Entrance (to the right of the main entrance doors) located on the East side of the gym facing 25th Ave.

The hooding and diploma ceremony will take place on Magnolia Circle Lawn as scheduled rain or shine. 



There will not be a rehearsal or formal information meeting for the graduates.

Typically, the Diploma Ceremony ends by 1:30 p.m.

Regalia must be returned to the Barnes and Noble at Vanderbilt by Monday, May 13 by noon. See the Commencement website for specific instructions.

Generally, the walk between the Main Ceremony to Magnolia Lawn takes about 15 minutes. There is a shuttle service to Magnolia Lawn from Alumni Lawn for guests with special needs. See Parking/Shuttles information above regarding transportation to/from Magnolia Lawn. There are also specific services provided for guests with special needs including wheelchairs, parking permits, and interpretation services. To request any of these, refer to the Vanderbilt Commencement website. 

Diplomas were mailed to all students who graduated in August or December 2018. All May 2019 graduates who attend will receive their diploma at the ceremony. Otherwise, it will be mailed to you approximately two months after Commencement. Please be sure to verify or update your permanent address through the graduation application on YES or at the Registrar’s office. The phone number is 615-322-7701.

Master's students will wear their hoods throughout the ceremony. Doctoral candidates are usually hooded by their advisor, major professor or another faculty member from their dissertation committee. The candidate is responsible for inviting their hooder (confirming their willingness and availability) and providing their name and email address to the Graduate School. If your advisor or other faculty member is unavailable, one of the Graduate School Assistant Deans will hood you. PhD students wear their hoods when walking across the stage to greet (and shake hands with) the Dean during the ceremony.

If you have questions that are not addressed above, please call 615-343-2727 or email gs_commencement  for further information.