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Hooding Ceremony FAQs

What is a Hooding Ceremony?

The Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Fine Arts Hooding Ceremony is a special recognition ceremony for PhD and MFA degree candidates during which a current Northwestern graduate faculty member places the doctoral hood over the head of the graduate, signifying his or her success in completing the graduate program. The ceremony is similar to a graduation in that faculty and students are dressed in academic attire (regalia). The Hooding Ceremony is in addition to and does not replace the all-University Commencement at Ryan Field.

Who participates in the Hooding Ceremony?

The annual hooding ceremony honors graduate students in Feinberg School of Medicine, Kellogg School of Management, School of Communication, Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, and TGS Interdisciplinary Programs who are receiving the PhD or MFA degree in the 2018–19 academic year.

In order to participate in the hooding ceremony, you must complete your degree in the 2018–19 academic year: August 2018, December 2018, March 2019, and June 2019. August 2019 graduates who complete all degree requirements on or before May 24, 2019 are also eligible to participate.

How do I participate in The Graduate School's (TGS) Hooding Ceremony?

Fill out an Intent to Participate Form, which is emailed to each eligible PhD and MFA student several weeks after they file for graduation. The Intent to Participate Form must be completed by May 24 in order to take part in the hooding ceremony. Late submissions cannot be considered.

Who is invited to attend?

This ceremony is a special honor for doctoral and master of fine arts degree recipients, who may invite a designated number of guests to attend in person. Students are eligible to reserve up to four tickets for guests to attend the annual hooding ceremony. (The student and their faculty hooder do not need tickets.)

Who performs the hooding?

Each doctoral and MFA candidate invites a current Northwestern graduate faculty member to perform the hooding. If your adviser is unavailable, you may ask another graduate faculty member or a TGS Associate Dean. It is the student’s responsibility to invite the hooder to the ceremony and confirm their availability before filling out the Intent to Participate Form.

Where and when is the ceremony?

The 2019 hooding ceremony will begin promptly at 3:00 PM on Thursday, June 20, 2019 in Cahn Auditorium on the Evanston Campus of Northwestern University. Download a location map with helpful details for you and your guests.

Cahn Auditorium is located at 600 Emerson Street, Evanston, IL 60201.

Are tickets required?

Yes. Tickets are required for guests. Tickets are not required for students who are being hooded or hooding faculty. Children who will be sitting on a lap do not need a ticket, but children who will occupy a seat will require a ticket. Anyone outside of the four ticketed guests who attend the ceremony in Cahn Auditorium is welcome to watch a livestream version from Hardin Hall.

May children attend the ceremony?

Yes, children are welcome to attend the ceremony. Children who will occupy a seat require a ticket. Children who will be sitting on a lap do not need a ticket. Please bear in mind that the ceremony is 1.5 - 2 hours long (depending on the number of degree recipients). For children who need a break from sitting in the auditorium, we will be providing an overflow room at Hardin Hall that will have room for children to play and a livestream of the ceremony.

Children are not permitted to join the processional, recessional, or a parent on stage when they receive a hood. We acknowledge the concessions made by family members in the years preceding this day, but we must consider the experience of all degree candidates and restrict children to the guest seating section. 

How do I order regalia?

Please see the Regalia webpage

Graduate students with financial need:

  • For graduate students with financial need, please complete the Financial Need Form.
  • The Commencement Office will email you confirming eligibility to receive financial aid for graduate regalia. Upon receipt of this communication graduates will then need to place their regalia order at the Caps and Gowns web page.
  • Graduate students with financial need must complete their application by Wednesday, May 8 for full consideration. No refunds will be issued to graduate students who have placed their regalia orders prior to requesting financial assistance. 

Where can I pick up my regalia and University commencement tickets?

Pick up your regalia at Norris University Center (you will receive messages about regalia pick-up after you submit your order). Please open the regalia while you are still at Norris and make sure that all parts and pieces are included (robe, hood, cap, tassel), that the zipper works, and that it fits. Please visit the Commencement ticket webpage for more information regarding the ceremony on Ryan Field on Friday, June 21.

Where and when can I pick up tickets for TGS’s Hooding Ceremony?

Students who have completed the Intent to Participate Form will receive an email with a link and promotion code to register for guest tickets for our PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony. Please email the Northwestern Ticket Office at if you do not receive your guest tickets. Mobile tickets will not be accepted for entrance. 

Where will my guests and I be able to park on the day of the ceremony?

Parking regulations for Northwestern University parking lots are waived during commencement ceremonies. Students and guests may park in any non-restricted parking lot on campus. We suggest the decked parking lot on the lakefront (Lots 214 and 215 on the parking map). Visitors with handicapped license plates or placards from a government agency may park in designated handicapped spaces or at parking meters. 

When should student and faculty participants arrive at the ceremony?

Students and faculty who are participating in the hooding ceremony should plan to arrive at Cahn Auditorium by 2:00 PM. Students should proceed to the table marked “Student Check-In” at the corner of Emerson and Sheridan roads (in the lobby, in the event of rain). 

When may my guests arrive for the Hooding Ceremony?

Guest seating will begin at 2:00 PM. We expect a full house for the Hooding Ceremony; therefore, we ask that your guests not save any empty seats in their row.

There will be a secured area for strollers in the vestibule to the left of the main entrance, behind the ticket office. TGS staff will be available to guide you.

Ground floor seating will cease at 2:50 PM, when the doors will close in preparation for the processional. Balcony seating will remain open, which is accessible by stairs and elevator.

Will photographs be available?

Professional photographers will take photos as degree recipients are hooded and as they shake hands with the dean. Details are available online and information will be mailed directly to graduates. 

Guests are respectfully requested not to take flash photographs and not to stand in the aisles at any time during the event.

What is the correct way to hood a degree recipient?

TGS has prepared a guide for ceremony participants, including their path across the stage and instructions for faculty hooders. Download the diagram and instructions.