Ceremony Day Instructions

Towson University Commencement is a formal ceremony and a dignified event.  

doctoral candidate
A doctoral candidate awaits hooding by a faculty member. Ceremony traditions like doctoral hooding extend back almost a thousand years.

An academic commencement is a formal ceremony, where decorum and respect for the customs of the occasion enhances the experience for the graduates and their guests alike. Therefore, in accordance with thousands of years of academic tradition, students, guests, and the platform party are asked to observe the guidelines and policies set forth to maintain the formality of the ceremony.

commencement promise 

Help Make Commencement Day a Safe & Memorable Experience

We ask all participants and guests to demonstrate courtesies and behaviors befitting the dignity of the occasion. While participating in Commencement, I agree that I will:

  • Refrain from arriving to the arena under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances.
  • Be respectful to all Commencement speakers, administration, faculty, staff, event volunteers, and fellow graduates.
  • Refrain from engaging in distracting behaviors (e.g., inappropriately-timed shouting, excessive celebration, etc.) during any portion of the ceremony.
  • Refrain from using my phone or any other electronic device during the ceremony.
  • Remain seated in my chair unless instructed otherwise.

A degree candidate is subject to be removed from the ceremony any point if the degree candidate does not comply with staff instructions, is found to be in violation of the Commencement Promise and/or engages in any behaviors that are deemed inappropriate and are not consonant with the formal tone befitting of an academic ceremony. Please note: inappropriate or non-compliant behavior may result in referral to the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education.

Ceremony Pre-Arrival Preparation

Approximately three weeks prior to your ceremony, the university will mail you a parking permit for Lots 13/14 . It is your responsibility to ensure that the mailing address provided when registering for Commencement is accurate as this address will be used to mail your parking pass.

We recommend that you plan to arrive early to allow time for traffic and parking. To limit congestion outside of the event, vehicles are not permitted near the Towson Center or SECU Arena to drop off passengers. Shuttles will be available to take guests to the SECU Arena from the third floor exist of the Union Garage on Cross Campus Drive. Guests do not need a permit to park in the Union Garage on Commencement day.

Please review the following helpful reminders and suggestions to further assist in preparing for your ceremony day:

  • Plan to eat something before reporting to the robing area; this may prevent you from feeling faint prior to and during the ceremony. A limited number of light refreshments (first come, first served) will be available and water fountains are located just outside the robing area.
  • The processional to SECU Arena requires a walk of nearly a half mile, so you should plan to wear comfortable shoes. You should also expect to stand for at least one hour prior to the start of the ceremony (there is a limited number of chairs available in the robing area).
  • Safe Management (security staff contracted by the university) will conduct bag checks and related security inspections to ensure the safety of all degree candidates, guests, faculty, and staff. 
  • Although we strongly discourage you from bringing any bags, coats, or other personal items to the robing area, degree candidates are permitted to take a small cross-body bag into the robing room (this must be worn under the gown during the ceremony) and processional. This bag may not exceed 10 x 10 x 2 inches.  
  • Make sure your guests have their tickets as they will not be able to enter SECU Arena without them. Guests are not permitted in the candidate robing area.
  • It is advised that you determine a post-ceremony meeting place with your guests. Flags numbered 1-4 are placed throughout the SECU courtyard (between the Towson Center and SECU Arena) to assist with identifying a meeting location.

Before the Ceremony  

When checking-in at the candidate robing area, located in the Towson Center Gym (8:30 a.m. for the morning ceremony and 1:30 p.m. for the afternoon ceremony, unless instructed otherwise), candidates will be greeted by several enthusiastic staff, faculty, and alumni volunteers who will assist with putting on the regalia correctly and lining up for the processional. It is extremely important to arrive on time, as candidates who arrive late may not be able to participate in the ceremony.

You will spend approximately 90 minutes in the robing room, prior to lining up for the processional into SECU arena. This time before the ceremony is a great opportunity to chat with friends, fellow students, faculty members, and to take photos.

At the candidate robing room 

Procedures and Instructions 

To ensure a memorable and safe commencement experience, guidelines have been developed which all candidates should review prior to their ceremony day.

Please note that candidates who exhibit signs of physical impairment due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony. Robing room staff will also be checking to ensure that all candidates are in compliance with the Candidate Regalia Guidelines. Additionally, fraudulent activity, misrepresentation of information, or ineligibility to participate in Commencement may result in disciplinary action through the TU Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education and/or removal from the ceremony.

  • Upon entering the robing room, degree candidates should first check-in with the volunteers located against the back wall to receive a name card (a TU student ID or another official form of identification must be presented to receive a card and participate in the ceremony). As a reminder, only students who have been approved to graduate and registered for Commencement will be permitted to participate in a ceremony. 
  • Professional photographers will be on site to take individual and group photographs that may be purchased after the ceremony, if desired.
  • Please listen for important reminders and instructions given by staff in the robing area. Candidates must comply with all instructions given by authorized university staff members. 
  • Candidates will be lined up alphabetically (not by major) for the processional. University staff and volunteers will assist with this process.
  • You may take a mobile phone, but it must be turned off for the duration of the ceremony. Candidates are not permitted to live-stream activity or carry mobile phones/electronic devices such as GoPro cameras across the stage
  • Personal belongings may not be left unattended in the robing area. 

Ceremony Participation 

The ceremony will last approximately 90 minutes, depending on the number of degree candidates in your ceremony. During the ceremony, several speakers will address candidates, and you will walk across the stage to receive a commemorative scroll or diploma holder in place of your diploma. 

  • All hand-held electronic devices such as cell phones must be turned off during the ceremony. These devices may not be used on the commencement stage, nor will excessive celebration be tolerated.
  • When it is time for you to receive your scroll, a faculty marshal will signal your row to stand and come forward. You will stand for approximately 20 minutes prior to walking across the stage and returning to your chair.
  • As you approach the stage, professional photographers from Grad Images will take a picture of you in front of a Towson University backdrop.
  • You will be directed by volunteers or marshals to approach the stage where you will give your name card to a staff member who will scan your card so that your name appears on screen as you walk across the stage. You will then present your card to the name card presenter at the top of the stairs on stage. After your name is called, walk forward, take your scroll or diploma folder, shake hands with the dean, and walk down the stairs and return to your chair. If there is a religious or cultural reason that you would prefer not to shake hands when crossing the stage, please place your right hand on your chest as a signal to the dean who is distributing scrolls/diploma folders.
  • If you disrupt the ceremony by celebrating excessively while crossing the stage or pose a safety risk to others, you may be immediately escorted from the arena. 
  • You must remain seated throughout the ceremony and must follow the direction of the marshals for the recessional.
    • Large bags, silly string, beach balls, inflatable animals and other related items distract from the dignity of the ceremony and are not permitted in SECU Arena.