Ceremony Day Instructions

Towson University Commencement is a formal ceremony and a dignified event. Learn more about what to expect on the day of your ceremony.   

degree candidates

An academic commencement is a formal ceremony, where decorum and respect for the customs of the occasion enhances the experience for degree candidates 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

Commencement at Towson University is a formal and friendly ceremonial occasion. To ensure that all participants and guests have a positive ceremony experience, we ask that everyone in attendance demonstrates courtesies and behaviors befitting the dignity of this formal academic and personal milestone. We encourage all participants and guests to refrain from engaging in any behavior that disrupts the ceremony or prevents anyone in attendance from hearing each graduate’s name or seeing each graduate walk across the stage (e.g., audible private conversations, excessive and boisterous yelling, blocking the view of others behind or next to you, etc.).

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 behaviors that disrupt the ceremony or prevent anyone in attendance from hearing each graduate’s name or seeing a graduate walk across the stage (e.g., excessive and boisterous celebrations, inappropriately-timed or loud and lengthy shouting, use of technology and electronic devices while crossing the stage, etc.) during any portion of 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.


Before You Arrive

What should I wear? 

We recommend business attire with comfortable shoes. We strongly discourage wearing high heels or stilettos as the processional from the robing area to SECU arena requires a walk of nearly a half mile! There are also a limited number of seats in the robing area, so you should also expect to be standing for at least one hour prior to the start of the ceremony.

What should I bring?

Your ceremony day essentials include your regalia, cell phone, and photo ID. You are able to take a small crossbody bag into the arena, but it may not exceed 10 x 10 x 2 inches (you will be required to bag check any other belongings that exceed this size, including jackets, purses, coats, umbrellas, etc.).

Aside from your cell phone, you will not be allowed to bring other electronic devices (e.g., GoPro’s, cameras, etc.) into the arena. To ensure the safety of all ceremony participants and guests, Safe Management (security staff contracted by the university) will conduct bag checks and related security procedures prior to admittance into the robing area. Learn more about Commencement safety & security procedures. 

Where do I park?

Approximately three weeks before the ceremony, you will be mailed a "Graduate" parking permit that will allow you to park in Lots 13/14. This will be mailed to the address you submitted with your Commencement registration.

On the day of your ceremony, you must display your “Graduate” parking permit in order to access this parking area. If you misplace your permit, you can park in the Union Garage and take a shuttle to the arena. Still have questions? Learn more about parking on Commencement day

Can I be dropped off near the arena?

No. To limit congestion outside of the arena, vehicles are not permitted near the Towson Center or SECU Arena to drop off passengers. Paratransit Service is available to take those with limited mobility from parking areas to SECU Arena.  See parking attendant to call for a Paratransit van.

Where is the student robing area?

Degree candidates should report to the gymnasiums located in the Towson Center

What time should I arrive?

You should arrive by 8:30 a.m. if you are participating in a morning ceremony and 1:30 p.m. if you are participating in an afternoon ceremony. Please arrive on time! Candidates who arrive late may not be able to participate in a ceremony. We also recommend eating something before arriving to prevent you from feeling faint prior to and during the ceremony.

Where do my guests go?

If you are carpooling with your guests, they will be directed to the SECU arena and degree candidates will be directed to the robing area in the Towson Center. The arena doors open for guests at 8:30 a.m. (for the morning ceremony) and 1:30 p.m. (for the afternoon ceremony). Please remember to give your guests their ceremony tickets as they will not be able to enter the building without them. As a reminder, ALL guests will need a ticket to enter (this includes infants and children) due to building safety codes. Learn more about ceremony ticket policies 


Robing Room Instructions

You will spend approximately 90 minutes in the degree candidate robing area, located in the Towson Center gymnasiums.

As soon as you arrive at the robing area, check-in with the volunteers located against the back wall to receive your name card. You must present your TU student ID or another official form of identification to receive your card and participate in the ceremony

Staff and volunteers will be circulating the room to answer questions and provide assistance to candidates with putting on regalia, if needed. Listen for important reminders and instructions given by staff in the robing area. 

Professional photographers will be on site to take individual and group photographs that may be purchased after the ceremony, if desired.

Light refreshments are available on a first come, first served basis. Restrooms are located just outside of the robing area.


During the Ceremony

How do we line-up?

Candidates will be lined-up alphabetically (not by major) for the processional in the candidate robing area. Please follow the instructions of university staff and volunteers during this process.

How long will the ceremony last?

The ceremony will last approximately 90 minutes, depending on the number of degree candidates in your ceremony. You must remain seated, unless instructed otherwise, throughout the ceremony. 

What happens during the ceremony?

During the ceremony, several speakers will address the graduating class before degree candidates’ names are called.

Do I receive my diploma at the ceremony?

No. Diplomas will not be issued during the ceremony because final course grades have not yet been submitted and a final evaluation of each student record will still need to take place. Instead, undergraduate degree candidates will receive a commemorative scroll and masters’ degree candidates will receive a diploma folder.

How do we cross the stage?

When it is time for you to receive your scroll or diploma folder, a marshal will signal your row to stand and come forward. Be sure to bring your name card with you. 

You will be directed by the marshal 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 the screen. You will then present your card to the name card presenter at the top of the stairs on stage who will give your card to the faculty reader. When your name is called, walk forward, take your scroll or diploma folder, shake hands with the dean, and walk down the center stairs and return to your chair.

Please note: live-streaming and/or excessive celebration that is disruptive to the ceremony and/or poses a safety risk to others is not permitted and those who engage in these behaviors may be escorted from the arena.

What if I don't want to shake hands when I cross the stage?

If there is a religious, cultural, or personal reason that you would prefer not to shake hands while crossing the staff, please place your right hand on your chest as a signal to the dean who is distributing scrolls/diploma folders.

What if the reader pronounces by name incorrectly?

While we make every effort to pronounce degree candidate names correctly, we are unable to guarantee that your name will be pronounced with 100% accuracy. If your name is pronounced incorrectly, you should still cross the stage and proceed forward. We are not able to re-read names. Please note that your name will still appear on the screen.


After the Ceremony

  • Once the ceremony concludes, the stage party will exit the arena followed by the faculty and then degree candidates.
  • The recessional route will take you back to the robing area in the Towson Center. Due to crowd safety procedures, you will not be permitted to leave the arena floor during the recessional to meet family inside the arena.
  • There will be numbered flags (1-4) placed throughout the SECU arena courtyard to serve as meeting locations. We recommend that you coordinate a meeting place with your family ahead of time to assist with this process.

  • You may take photos with families, friends, and other degree candidates in the SECU arena courtyard. Please note that no open containers of alcohol are permitted.