Graduate Commencement Ceremony Instructions

Information for Doctoral Candidates and Their Guests

Date, Time, and Location:

  • Thursday, May 3, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum.
  • It is anticipated that the ceremony will be approximately two hours in length (i.e., 7:00-9:00 p.m.).



  • Tickets are NOT required to attend the Graduate Commencement Ceremony.

Doors Open:

  • The doors to Hilton Coliseum will open two hours in advance of the ceremony at 5:00 p.m.


  • Light concessions (i.e., soda, water, popcorn, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, and cookie cups) will be available for sale at the southeast corner of Hilton Coliseum.


  • Doctoral candidates can have an unlimited number of guests attend.
  • Seating for guests is on a first come, first served basis.
  • Guests in need of special accommodation seating (e.g., wheelchair seating, limited step seating, etc.) should locate an usher upon arrival in the seating area.

Special Accommodations/Accessibility:

  • Parking and Drop-Off/Pick-Up:
    • Handicap parking is available in the C-1/C-2 parking lots.
    • Guests can be dropped-off and picked-up at the lower west entrance of Hilton Coliseum (underneath the catwalk between Scheman and Hilton).
  • Guests:
    • Special accommodation seating will be available on a first come, first served basis. Guests in need of special accommodation seating (e.g., wheelchair seating, limited step seating, etc.) should locate an usher upon arrival in the seating area.
    • For convenience, an elevator is located immediately inside the doors of the lower west entrance to Hilton Coliseum.
  • Students/Candidates:
    • Students/candidates needing special assistance (e.g., wheelchair seating, sign language interpreter, captioning services, service animals, etc.) prior to, or during, the ceremony should contact Jennifer Suchan by e-mail at
  • Notes:
    • A sign language interpreter will be located on a platform in front of the stage on the south side.
    • Captioning will be available on the lower portion of the jumbotron.

Academic Attire (i.e., Caps, Tassels, Gowns, and Hoods):

  • Doctoral candidates are required to wear: The official Iowa State University doctorate regalia (i.e., Ph.D. gown, Ph.D. hood, and Ph.D. tam).
  • Academic attire can be rented or purchased from the University Bookstore in the Memorial Union or via their website (
  • Hoods:
    • The Office of the Registrar will provide each doctoral candidate with a Ph.D. hood to use during the ceremony.
      • If you use one of the Ph.D. hoods provided by the Office of the Registrar during the ceremony, you will need to return the hood to the Office of the Registrar staff on stage immediately after the ceremony, or to the Office of the Registrar (210 Enrollment Services Center) by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 7, 2018. Failure to do will will result in your being billed $175.00 for the replacement costs of the hood and a hold will be placed on your university record.
      • If you would like to keep your Ph.D. hood longer, please contact Deb Lettow in the Office of the Registrar via e-mail at
      • Do NOT return your hood to the University Bookstore.
    • If you will be bringing your own Ph.D. hood to the ceremony, please contact Deb Lettow in the Office of the Registrar via e-mail at before Thursday, May 3, 2018.

Arrival Time and Line-Up Location:

  • Time:
    • Doctoral candidates should arrive to their line-up area at 6:00 p.m.
  • Line-up Location:
    • Benton Auditorium located on the 100-level (middle-level) of the Scheman Building.
    • Go directly to your line-up area and check in with the volunteer staff, at which time you will receive your Reader Card.
  • Notes:
    • Do not take a Commencement Program; one will be provided for you on your chair.
    • Leave purses, coats, and other valuables with family or friends since there will be no secure place in the line-up area to leave them during the ceremony.


  • Doctoral candidates will be led by Faculty Marshals from Benton Auditorium to their seats on the arena floor.
  • Doctoral candidates will process in two single-file lines and will enter the arena floor from the West End Tunnel.


  • Doctoral candidates will have three pictures taken at the ceremony:
    • (1) A staged photo with their hood draped over their arm before walking across stage;
    • (2) A candid photo while they are being hooded by their Major Professor(s); and
    • (3) A candid photo shaking hands with the president or provost while on the stage.
  • All photographs taken at the Graduate Commencement Ceremony will be posted on the Flash Photography website (
  • Doctoral candidates will receive information via e-mail from Flash Photography as to how they can purchase their photographs.
  • Questions regarding photography should be directed at Flash Photography (

Hooding Ceremony:

  • Please review the Hooding Demonstration for Ph.D. Cadidates video on YouTube prior to the ceremony (
  • Order of Events During Hooding Ceremony:
    • Doctoral candidates will process to the stage from both the north and south sides.
    • Doctoral candidate and Major Professor(s) will walk to center stage to be hooded.
    • Doctoral candidate shakes hands with the President or Provost and then receives diploma cover.
    • Doctroal candidate shakes hands with their Major Professor(s).
    • President or Provost shakes hands with the Major Professor(s).
    • Doctoral candidate and Major Professor(s) return to their seats.


  • Students/candidates are asked to remain standing at the end of the ceremony until the platform party recessional has concluded.
  • There will not be a recessional of the graduates.
  • Family and friends are welcome to come to the arena floor following the recessional to greet their graduate(s) and to take photographs.


  • Diplomas will not be handed out during the ceremony.
  • Diploma will be mailed to graduates on Friday, May 25.
  • Graduates wishing to pick up their diploma may come to the 200-level of the Enrollment Services Center on Thursday, May 24.
  • Students are able to update their diploma mailing address through AccessPlus (Student tab > Graduation > Diploma/Ceremony) through Tuesday, May 8, 2018. After this deadline, please contact the Graduation Office via e-mail at or via phone at (515) 294-1840.