The Catholic University of America

Commencement Frequently Asked Questions

When is Commencement?

CUA's 2013 Commencement will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 18, 2013 at the University Mall in front of the east entrance to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

How long does the Commencement Ceremony last?

The length of the ceremony is approximately 1½ hours. Please note: the Commencement Ceremony is followed by the distribution of diploma ceremonies for individual schools.

Who participates in the Commencement Ceremony?

Currently enrolled students who will receive degrees in May are to attend Commencement Exercises. One may be excused by the provost of the university for a serious or unforeseen reason. Students not currently enrolled who received their degrees earlier in the year (October, January) are not required to be present but are welcome to participate.  It is recommended that those who graduated earlier in the year contact her/his school about their participation in the May exercises.

Can I attend Baccalaureate Mass if I am not Roman Catholic?

The ceremony is open to all graduates and families.

How do I know if I should attend the Honors Convocation?

The Honors Convocation is for University Honors participants, Honors Society Members and students receiving special university honors. Honorees will receive individual invitations. 

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.

What happens in the event of inclement weather?

Every attempt will be made to hold the Commencement Ceremony outdoors. However, in the event of severe inclement weather, an announcement will be posted on the university Web site after 8 a.m. the morning of May 17, 2014.

How do I order my graduation cap and gown or graduation announcements?

Please click here for information about ordering academic regalia and graduation announcements.

Where do I park?

Visitors are advised that on-campus parking is very limited in areas near the Commencement sites. Parking is available in the outlying areas of campus, limited primarily to the Marist and O'Boyle Hall parking lots, the DuFour Athletic Center parking lot, the University Parking Garage (that can be accessed from John McCormack Road), and street parking along both Harewood and John McCormack roads. Limited parking may also be available in the parking lot for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Harewood Road. Guests may also choose to travel to Commencement activities and events via Metrorail to the Brookland/CUA stop on the Red Line.

Do you offer handicapped parking/seating?

CUA is committed to promoting the full participation of all individuals with disabilities in the Honors Convocation, Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises. Handicap parking is available on campus in designated locations; a state-issued license plate or placard is required. All ceremonies have designated seating areas for persons with mobility disabilities and for those who need interpreters or transcribers. Seating is available for the individual with the disability and one companion on a first-come, first-served basis. Should you or your guest need Commencement materials in an alternate format, such as enlarged print or Braille, or a sign language interpreter, please contact Disability Support Services at or 202-319-5211 prior to Friday, May 3. For more information on disability access during Commencement weekend go to

Can I take the Metro to Commencement?

Guests may choose to travel to Commencement activities and events via Metrorail to the Brookland/CUA stop on the red line.

Will I be able to take pictures during the ceremony?

Photography is allowed during the Commencement events, however, we discourage guests from disrupting the ceremony or blocking the views of other guests.

What is the appropriate dress for the weekend's events?

Family members and guests are encouraged to dress comfortably for the weekend, taking the weather conditions into account. Most guests tend to dress up more (what might be worn to a religious service, for example) for the Baccalaureate Mass and the Commencement Exercises, but there is still a wide range of attire at those events. There are no formal expectations for what guests should wear during the weekend. Dress in layers, so that you're comfortable no matter what the temperature. Comfortable shoes are suggested. It is also suggested to bring appropriate outdoor accessories, such as sunscreen, a windbreaker and, rain gear. Parasols and umbrellas are not permitted. Graduating students may click here for information about appropriate attire.

What time do graduating students have to be out of the residence halls?

Graduating students must check out of residence halls by noon on Sunday, May 19.

Can I bring my dog if it's on a leash?

Except for service aids, pets are not allowed.

Can I bring champagne for my graduate?

We suggest you reserve that celebration for your post-Commencement meal or party.

Can I view the Commencement Ceremony from somewhere other than the University Mall? 

Yes. The main Commencement Ceremony will be broadcast via streaming video into the Pryzbyla Center Food Court.

Where can I find help the day of Commencement?

Department of Public Safety Officers, ushers and volunteers will be available on campus to assist guests and answer questions.

Where can I find restroom facilities??

There are restroom facilities available in the following nearby campus buildings: McMahon Hall, Shahan Hall and McGivney Hall.

What if I have additional questions?

Contact the office of the Vice President for University Relations at 202-319-5100 if you have other questions concerning Commencement activities.