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TGS PhD and MFA Virtual Recognition Ceremony on June 19, 2020

Dear TGS PhD and MFA graduates,
We hope you are well and safe. Given President Schapiro’s May 1 message to graduates that Northwestern will host a virtual Commencement ceremony on June 19, 2020 and invite this year’s graduates to attend an in-person ceremony in June 2021, we want to share our plan at TGS.
In alignment with this University decision, The Graduate School is developing its own virtual recognition ceremony to honor our PhD and MFA graduates as part of the Commencement experience on June 19, 2020. Ceremony and participant details are outlined below. No registration is necessary to be recognized.
In addition, we will invite 2019–20 TGS PhD and MFA graduates to join our 2020–21 TGS PhD and MFA graduates in person at our annual hooding ceremony in June 2021. This ceremony will be held in a venue sufficiently large enough to accommodate additional graduates and their guests.

Virtual Recognition Ceremony

The tradition of conferring the academic hood has a long and storied history. The hood itself symbolizes the continuity of learning, which is fundamental to the concept of the university; its personal conferment symbolizes the academic mentors’ admission of their students to the ranks of academe. The hooding is a rite of passage but also a powerful communal and personal experience.
While Northwestern’s decision to host a virtual commencement is necessary to protect everyone’s safety and well-being, no virtual ceremony can capture the significance and recognition of being hooded by a faculty adviser or mentor with loved ones and colleagues present to celebrate.
Therefore, a hooding experience will not take place during this virtual recognition ceremony. Instead, The Graduate School, in coordination with the virtual ceremony plans of our partner schools at Northwestern, will provide pre-recorded speeches and a slideshow of graduate names.

Virtual Recognition Ceremony Participants

The Graduate School’s virtual recognition ceremony will automatically recognize all PhD and MFA graduates from the following schools and programs, who completed their degrees in September 2019, December 2019, March 2020, and June 2020 and would ordinarily be invited to participate in our in-person hooding ceremony:

  • Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Kellogg School of Management
  • School of Communication
  • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • TGS interdisciplinary programs

Summer (September) 2020 graduates from these schools and programs will not be included in this year’s virtual recognition ceremony due to the deadlines that are in place but will be invited to participate in the 2021 in-person hooding ceremony.
PhD graduates from the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Bienen School of Music are included in the virtual plans of these partner schools.
TGS master of arts (MA), master of science (MS), and master of public health (MPH) graduates should also check with their respective schools or programs for their virtual ceremony details.


As President Schapiro announced in his message, the University will purchase and ship regalia to graduates for the June 2020 virtual Commencement and school ceremonies. This includes a souvenir version of the traditional doctoral regalia worn by PhD students.
TGS graduates who completed their degrees in September 2019, December 2019, and March 2020—plus those who filed an application for degree by May 1, 2020 and would ordinarily be invited to participate in our in-person hooding ceremony—are eligible for free regalia. Summer (September) 2020 graduates are not eligible.
Eligible graduates who would like to order free regalia must complete this order form on the Northwestern Bookstore’s regalia ordering page by 11:59 PM CST on May 10, 2020.
Ordering souvenir regalia is optional; regalia does not need to be worn as part of the virtual recognition ceremony. The University is providing this free regalia for those who wish to take photos to commemorate the occasion during this year’s virtual recognition ceremony. PhD graduates also have the option to purchase fine-quality doctoral regalia, which is substantially more expensive than the free souvenir regalia, but intended to last for years to come.
Faculty members will not need regalia for The Graduate School’s virtual recognition ceremony.


Every TGS graduate, regardless of partner-school affiliation, will receive a diploma mailed to the address listed on the Application for Degree (AFD) form in the Graduate Student Tracking System (GSTS). If you need to update the address where you would like your diploma to be mailed, please edit it within GSTS. Edits from June graduates will be accepted through June 19, 2020 and can be made even after the AFD form has been approved.

TGS Contact

Thank you for your patience as our plans take shape during this unprecedented moment. We will soon provide additional details, such as when and how to access the virtual recognition ceremony, to our 2019–20 TGS PhD and MFA graduates. Please email TGS Events & Outreach Manager Victoria Williams with any questions.
We hope to see you virtually on June 19 as you celebrate from around the world, many of you in your regalia, and we look forward to recognizing you in person a year from now at our annual hooding ceremony.
The Graduate School