About the ceremony

Arrival, entrance and line up

NOTE: In order to participate in the Commencement ceremony, you must register in advance.

On the day of Commencement, you should arrive to the Tacoma Dome no later than 8 a.m., entering through "A" doors next to the Exhibition Hall. You should arrive already dressed in your academic apparel.

You will proceed directly to the check-in tables, where you will receive your name card. You must hold onto this card and present it as you walk up on stage. The name card will contain specific directions for the processional and crossing of the stage.

After receiving your name card, you will be directed to the line-up area for your academic program. You are requested to follow all instructions given by the Commencement staff.

Please leave purses, umbrellas, coats and other valuables with family or friends; personal items cannot be left in the staging area.

Commencement ceremony overview

    When students walk across the stage, a large screen will display the student's name, degree, accomplishments, and a short, personalized message.

At Commencement, the University of Washington Tacoma community gathers at the Tacoma Dome to celebrate the academic achievements of the graduating class.

Faculty, wearing their colorful gowns and hoods, begin the processional by forming an honor guard to greet the graduating students. Dressed in their academic apparel, the degree candidates will enter the Dome’s arena to the cheers and clapping of the faculty and over 6,000 assembled guests, family and friends. The processional continues with the seating of the faculty, followed by the Chancellor’s party and the President’s party, who sit on the stage.

The ceremony begins with the singing of the national anthem, and continues with opening remarks by the UW Tacoma Chancellor and the UW President, and includes the presentation of the Chancellor's Medal and a formal address by our student speaker. A guest speaker will also give a short address.

The conferring of degrees begins with master’s degree candidates, followed by bachelor's degree candidates. Each degree candidate will proceed across the stage. As you cross the stage, you will shake hands with the president or chancellor. Pictures will be taken when shaking hands. You will receive a complimentary purple diploma case bearing the official seal of the University.

Time Event
8 a.m. Degree candidates arrive, entering the lower A doors
Doors open for guests, entering through the upper C doors
9 a.m. Commencement ceremony begins
11:30 a.m. Ceremony concludes

Hooding ceremonies

Master's degree candidates are encouraged to also participate in their department's hooding ceremony.

What's the difference between Commencement and graduation?

Commencement: Commencement is a formal ceremony that celebrates your achievement. However, participating in Commencement does not mean that you have officially graduated. You do not receive your actual diploma during the ceremony.

Graduation: Graduation occurs when an audit of your academic record determines that you have successfully completed all university and degree requirements, and you are entered in the computer as having graduated in the month you met the requirements. Once your degree has been granted — within a few days to a few weeks after grades are submitted — your name will be printed on a diploma, and it will be mailed to you. The whole process can take 12 - 16 weeks.