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Commencement & TGS Hooding Ceremony

Commencement is open to all Northwestern graduates. It is a University-wide ceremony where graduates are commemorated as a whole. During the ceremony, student, faculty, and guest speakers address graduates and their families.

The 2021 Commencement ceremony will take place virtually on Monday, June 14, 2021 at 11:00 AM CDT.  Please refer to the University Commencement website for details. You can find messages about Commencement released from University leadership to 2021 graduates here and to 2020 graduates here

In addition to the main Commencement ceremony, each Northwestern school and The Family Institute host a ceremony or ceremonies for graduates.

Students who wish to participate in the main Commencement, a school ceremony, or both should pay careful attention to all deadline announcements as they are made closer to the ceremonies.

TGS PhD and MFA Virtual Recognition Ceremony

All Summer (September) 2020, Fall (December) 2020, Winter (March) 2021, and Spring (June) 2021 TGS PhD and MFA graduates will be recognized virtually in conjunction with this year's virtual commencement ceremony regardless of whether you are able to attend the hooding ceremony in person on June 12.

Please note that all Summer (September) 2019, Fall (December) 2019, Winter (March) 2020, and Spring (June) 2020 PhD and MFA graduates were recognized virtually last year.


The regalia ordering system is managed by the University's Commencement Office. The deadline to purchase regalia to be shipped to your home or preferred mailing address is May 16, 2021. Please click here to learn more about ordering your regalia. 

TGS PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony 

The Graduate School's annual PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony formally recognizes participating graduates as members of the academic community. 

Based on the April 6 University announcement, The Graduate School will host an in-person PhD and MFA hooding ceremony on Saturday, June 12 at 2:00 PM in Ryan Fieldhouse following all University and public health guidelines.

Ceremony Eligibility

This annual ceremony is open to all PhD and MFA graduates of TGS programs that are in partnership with the following schools:

Both 2019–20 and 2020–21 PhD and MFA graduates—Summer (September) 2019 through Spring (June) 2021—are invited to attend this combined hooding ceremony. 

In order to participate in the 2021 PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony, your PhD or MFA must be conferred in September 2020, December 2020, March 2021, or June 2021.

Please note that Summer (September) 2021 graduates are not eligible to participate in this year’s hooding ceremony. If you will graduate in September 2021, you will be invited to participate in the 2021–22 PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony, which will be held in June 2022. While TGS has been able to grant exceptions to include Summer Quarter graduates who complete their degrees by early June in the past, Commencement will take place a week earlier in the academic calendar, and we anticipate additional complexities with our 2021 ceremony.

Faculty Representation

One graduate faculty volunteer from each program will hood all graduates from that program to reduce the faculty presence required on stage and help ensure the safety of both faculty and graduates.

Intent to Participate Form

The Graduate School will email an Intent to Participate form to eligible PhD and MFA graduates who complete all degree requirements starting the week of April 12, 2021. This form must be submitted on or before May 7, 2021 to participate in the 2021 hooding ceremony. Late submissions cannot be considered.

Please note that graduates must wear regalia in order to participate in the ceremony and the deadline to order regalia to be shipped to your home or preferred mailing address is May 16, 2021

Hooding Experience

The hooding ceremony is a special recognition ceremony for PhD and MFA degree candidates during which a Northwestern graduate faculty member places the doctoral hood over the head of each graduate, signifying the graduate’s success in completing the graduate program and welcoming them to the academy of scholars. As of now, Risk Management has approved that physical hoodings may take place during the ceremony with face masks on.

Guest Tickets

Each graduate may request tickets for up to four guests, who will be seated together in assigned pods, which allows for social distancing between ticketed parties.

The guest limit is the same across all in-person graduation ceremonies Northwestern is hosting this June regardless of venue or ceremony size to ensure consistency and compliance with public health guidelines.

Due to the complexities of planning these events, Northwestern will be unable to make more tickets available, even if a shift in state guidance before Graduation Weekend permits it.

Eligible graduates receive a link to request guest tickets after they complete the Intent to Participate form for our hooding ceremony. The deadline to request tickets is May 16, 2021.

Tickets will have assigned seats and guests must sit in their assigned seats. 

All guest tickets will be emailed to the graduate after June 1, 2021. The guest tickets will be sent to the email address that the graduate provided to the Commencement Office when requesting the guest tickets. It will then be the graduate's responsibility to forward those electronic tickets to their guests. Please check your inbox (include your spam folder) for your guest tickets after June 1, 2021.

Guests without tickets will not be permitted to enter the ceremony venue. Children under the age of 3 who can sit on a lap do not require a ticket.


The hooding ceremony will be livestreamed for those who are unable to attend in person. We will provide more details by early June.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

A COVID-19 vaccination is recommended but not required to participate in or attend the hooding ceremony. Disclosure of vaccination status is not required. 


Please email Victoria Williams, TGS events & outreach manager, at with any questions. 

Partner School PhD Ceremonies

PhD students who graduate from TGS programs that are in partnership with the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music are invited to participate in the respective partner school's ceremony instead of The Graduate School's ceremony. Please contact your school representative below for additional details about convocation ceremonies for these partner schools:

Partner School MA, MS, and MPH Ceremonies

TGS master of arts (MA), master of science (MS), and master of public health (MPH) graduates should check with their departments regarding any partner school ceremonies. 

Graduates from the Master of Arts in Counseling, Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy, Master of Arts in Counseling@Northwestern programs should contact Kristen Catuara, Assistant Director for Administration at The Family Institute, at with any questions about their ceremony.


Last Updated: May 19, 2021.