Graduating Students: What to Expect at University Commencement

Congratulations, graduates. Your hard work has paid off. Be sure to invite your family and friends to celebrate with you and our Rutgers community. Celebrate your achievement during the 253rd Anniversary Commencement on Sunday, May 19, 2019, at 10 a.m. in Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.

At this much-anticipated ceremony for graduating students of Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, the university president will confer all undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded throughout the academic year. University Commencement may be a centuries-old tradition, but many participants may be experiencing it for the first time. Below is a brief look at what the ceremony will entail for degree recipients. 

Come Prepared

  • You must have a special Commencement parking hangtag to park on campus on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Parking hangtag registration begins on Monday, March 25.
  • Limited Indoor Stadium Seating in the Audi Club: Commencement is held rain or shine and umbrellas may not be brought into the stadium. A limited number of tickets for indoor stadium seating at the Audi Rutgers Club will be available for purchase in March. Please check back.
  • Check out our Steps to Commencement page to learn all you need to know in planning for your graduation events in May.
  • If you plan to participate in the academic procession with your fellow graduates, come dressed in your academic regalia—your cap and gown. See our Academic Regalia section for details.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking and standing for a duration. You’ll want to be comfortable!
  • Stadium Security and Restricted Bag Policy: There will be a security check at the gates. Only clutches and wallets no larger than 4.5 x 6.5 inches will be permitted in the stadium. You may carry items in a clear plastic bag up to one gallon in size or 12x12x6 inches. Cameras and binoculars (without their bags) and seat cushions may be carried in on their own. Walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters are permitted in the stadium. Strollers, umbrellas, and balloons are not permitted. No one is allowed to bring liquids into the stadium; however, water will be provided for graduating students on the field. Learn more about Rutgers Athletics Bag Policy.

Graduating Student Arrival and Marshaling

  • Please allow at least two hours to park and get to Stadium.
  • The gates will open at 8 a.m. and shuttle buses will start running at 7 a.m. on May 19.
  • All graduates should plan to arrive at the stadium no later than 9 a.m. to allow time have photos taken by Grad Images and find your place in the marshaling area.
  • The ceremony begins promptly at 10 a.m. with the student procession onto the field.
  • Upon arrival at the stadium, leave your guests to find their seats and head to the south end of the stadium, under the large video board. Go to the sub-level marshaling area to gather with fellow graduates. An elevator is available for students with mobility challenges.
  • In the marshaling area, line up with your classmates of the school issuing your degree.
    • Pick up your school's spiritmaker flag. And, be sure to wave it when your school's name is called during the conferring of degrees.
    • If you want to sit with friends, be sure they are standing in front of or behind you.
    • Plan to process in a dignified, single file line, with some formality.
  • Smile as you process – you’re on camera! Follow the instructions of the marshals as you walk to your school’s designated seating area on the field.

The Ceremony

Carry on the Tradition: Ring the Red Lion Bell

Ring the Red Lion BellThe Red Lion Bell was gifted to Rutgers in 2011. It is named after the former tavern, the Sign of the Red Lion, where Rutgers held its first classes in the 1770s.

The gift triggered a new tradition at Rutgers. Students ring the bell at the beginning of their studies during New Student Convocation and at the end of their journeys at University Commencement.

You may ring the bell to signify your graduation before descending the stairs to the marshaling area.

Show Your Rutgers Spirit
Carry on the Tradition: Make Yourself Seen

At the start of the event, you’ll be given your school’s spiritmaker. When you are asked to stand with your fellow degree candidates, wave your spiritmaker so everyone can see where your school is located on the field.

After the Commencement Ceremony

  • After the Commencement ceremony ends, all non-School of Arts and Sciences graduates should exit the field toward the concourse via the steps from the field.
  • Following Commencement, School of Arts and Sciences graduates should stay on the field and follow the instructions provided by your school. The SAS Convocation begins at 12:30 p.m.