Spring 2021 Commencement… | University of Northwestern, St. Paul
UNW Response to Covid-19

Spring 2021 Commencement Planning

Congratulations, Class of 2021!

Diverse students at graduation

Commencement Livestream

Guests who cannot attend commencement in person are invited to join us via livestream. 

Commencement Program

View the May 2021 commencement program to follow along with the livestream.

Video Archive

Recent commencement ceremonies are available for viewing in the ceremony archive.

Spring 2021 Commencement Schedule of Events:

Date/ Time Commencement Activity
Friday, May 14, 2021
9:15 a.m.Participating graduates for ceremony 1 assemble in regalia in Nazareth Hall, second (main) floor
10:00–11:30 a.m.Commencement ceremony 1* in Knight Performance Hall
11:30–12:30 p.m.Commencement reception for ceremony 1: outdoors in front of the Billy Graham Community Life Commons
2:15 p.m.Participating graduates for ceremony 2 assemble in regalia in Nazareth Hall, second (main) floor
3:00–4:30 p.m.Commencement ceremony 2* in Knight Performance Hall
4:30–5:30 p.m.Commencement reception for ceremony 2: outdoors in front of the Billy Graham Community Life Commons
Saturday, May 15, 2021
9:15 a.m.Participating graduates for ceremony 3 assemble in regalia in Nazareth Hall, second (main) floor
10:00–11:30 a.m.Commencement ceremony 3* in Knight Performance Hall
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.Commencement reception for ceremony 3: outdoors in front of the Billy Graham Community Life Commons
2:15 p.m.Participating graduates for ceremony 4 assemble in regalia in Nazareth Hall, second (main) floor
3:00–4:30 p.m.Commencement ceremony 4* in Knight Performance Hall
4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.Commencement reception for ceremony 4: outdoors in front of the Billy Graham Community Life Commons


*Each ceremony includes designated academic departments and schools. All majors within designated departments/schools will march with their respective department/school, with exceptions noted below

Ceremony 1 (May 14, 10:00 a.m.)

Department of Computing, Data & Mathematical Sciences (Also includes Mathematics Education)
Department of History & Related Fields
Department of Music & Theatre (Also includes Music Education)
Department of World Languages (Only includes Spanish Education)
School of Education
(Only includes Social Studies Education)
School of Nursing

Ceremony 2 (May 14, 3:00 p.m.)

Department of Communication (Also includes Associate in Applied Science & Bible)
Department of English & Literature (Also includes Communication Arts/Literature Education)
Department of Psychology, Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement (Only includes Psychology)
School of Theology & Ministry
• Department of Biblical & Theological Studies (Also includes Associate of Arts & Bible)
• Department of Christian Ministries

Ceremony 3 (May 15, 10:00 a.m.)

Department of Art & Design (Also includes Visual Arts Education)
Department of Biology & Biochemistry
School of Business

Ceremony 4 (May 15, 3:00 p.m.)

Graduate Studies (All master's degrees and graduate certificates)
Adult Undergraduate (Also includes Associate of Arts: General Studies)
Department of Engineering
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
Department of Physical Education, Health & Kinesiology (Also includes Physical Education)
Department of Psychology, Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement (Only includes Criminal Justice)
Department of World Languages (Only includes English as a Second Language Education)
School of Education (Only includes Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education)

Caps, Gowns, and Hoods

  • Beginning in February, planned graduates will order regalia online.
  • Caps and gowns (and hoods for master's degree students) must be ordered by no later than Tuesday, April 20.
  • Regalia will be mailed directly to graduates from Herff Jones.
  • Members of honors societies will receive their cords from their respective departments. Eagle Scholars will receive their stoles from the Director of the Eagle Scholars Honors Program. Medallions for academic honors will be distributed by the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Adult & Graduate Studies.

Commencement Tickets

  • Tickets are required for guests attending commencement in Knight Performance Hall.
  • Participating graduates will each receive three guest tickets. Due to seating restrictions, tickets are non-transferrable, and unused tickets cannot be shared with other graduates.
  • Each graduate's three guests must be comfortable sitting beside each other in adjacent seats, but they will be appropriately distanced from other attendees (see COVID-19 Mitigation Guidelines below).
  • Seating for commencement will be reserved. Each graduate will receive a randomly assigned set of three adjacent seats for their guests.
  • At the beginning of May, graduates will be emailed their three tickets to their UNW email address. The tickets will come from ticketoffice@unwsp.edu.
  • Prior to the commencement ceremony, graduates should forward tickets to their guests by email or print the tickets and give to their guests. Please be aware that each ticket will have a different seat number. Commencement attendees may bring a printed copy of their ticket or show their ticket on a device.
  • Commencement attendees may bring a printed copy of the ticket or show the tickets on a device.

Guests and/or Graduates with Accommodation Needs

  • To request accommodation (e.g., wheelchair/ADA, hearing impaired or interpreter/translation requests, etc.) for guests and/or graduates attending commencement, please complete and submit an accommodation request form by no later than Thursday, April 30.

Lodging for Guests

  • Some hotels in the local area may offer reduced rates for those who indicate they are coming to the area to attend graduation at University of Northwestern.

COVID-19 Mitigation Guidelines

Please be aware of guidelines that will be implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19:

  • At all times when indoors, graduates and guests will be required to wear face coverings/masks that cover the mouth and nose. Face coverings/masks must also be worn outdoors when it is not possible to maintain social distancing.
  • Guests will be seated in family groups, at a minimum distance of six feet from other individuals or family groups. Graduates will be seated individually, at a minimum distance of six feet from other graduates or guests.
  • Graduates and guests will be health screened prior to entering the building for the commencement ceremony. You will be asked if you have any COVID-related symptoms or have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive. 
  • Graduates and guests will be asked to head directly outdoors at the conclusion of the ceremony.
  • Commencement details are subject to modification if required by developing COVID-19-related health guidance. Planned graduates will be notified of any changes via email, and this page will also be updated accordingly.

    Commencement Safety Plan


    Diplomas will be mailed to graduates in June. Diplomas are sent after graduates have fulfilled all degree requirements and resolved any student account holds. This includes paying the graduation fee charged to the graduate's account the last term the graduate registers (undergraduate: $75; graduate: $100).

    Note: Diplomas list degree only. Transcripts list degree, major(s), and any minor(s).

    Desktop Diploma

    A Uploma™ provides another way to display a college degree. This desktop diploma is completely customizable to fit any major, achievements, graduation year, and school pride. You may order your Uploma online.

    Eligibility for Commencement

    May commencement includes all spring 2021 planned graduates, which also include summer 2021 Traditional Undergraduate (TRAD) and Dual Enrollment* (DE) graduates.

    *While DE planned graduates awarded a high school diploma in spring 2021 are not eligible to participate in this spring's commencement, they are eligible to apply for summer degree completion and participate in the fall 2021 commencement.

    Professional Photographers

    • Each graduate will be photographed as diploma covers are presented and at a posed location at the side of the stage.
    • After graduation, graduates will be given the opportunity to purchase pictures directly from Lifetouch.


    Adult Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Students: 866-492-7877 or 651-628-3400; AGS@unwsp.edu

    Dual Enrollment Students: 888-216-0069 or 651-631-5300; DE@unwsp.edu

    Traditional Undergraduate Students: 800-692-4020, ext. 5119; or 651-631-5119; Registrar@unwsp.edu

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