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TGS June 2021 PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony FAQs

Ceremony Venue and Schedule

When is The Graduate School’s PhD and MFA hooding ceremony?

Saturday, June 12, 2021, at 2:00 PM.

What time will the ceremony finish?

We cannot guarantee a specific finish time for the ceremony. However, past hooding ceremonies hosted by TGS have lasted about two hours. Since this year's ceremony starts at 2:00 PM, we estimate that this year's ceremony will end around 4:00 PM.

Where will the PhD and MFA hooding ceremony take place?

Ryan Fieldhouse
2333 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

Important Note: Ryan Fieldhouse is located on the north end of the Evanston campus to the east of Lincoln Street and Sheridan Road. It is NOT connected to or located near Ryan Field, which is on Central Street.

Is there parking nearby?

There is a parking garage attached to Ryan Fieldhouse that may be used free of charge on the day of the ceremony. It is Lot 105 on this Evanston campus parking map.

Parking regulations for Northwestern University parking fees are waived during commencement ceremonies. In addition to the adjacent parking garage, students and guests may park in any non-restricted parking lot on campus. Visitors with handicapped license plates or placards from a government agency may park in designated handicapped spaces or at parking meters. 

When will the doors to the venue open for guests?

The doors will open one hour prior to the ceremony at 1:00 PM. Please note there is a flight of stairs to access the ceremony space. Please allow more time for guests who need elevator access as individual ride capacity will be limited due to social distancing requirements.

Is food or drink permitted inside Ryan Fieldhouse?

Only water is permitted. No other food or drink is allowed.

Is Ryan Fieldhouse climate-controlled?

Yes, it is an indoor football field that is temperature controlled.

Is there a dress code for the ceremony?

No, but all graduates are required to wear regalia in order to participate. Most guests wear semi-formal or business casual attire. Graduates, faculty members, and guests will be walking on an artificial grass football field and we recommend comfortable footwear. High heels are permitted but, if worn, you may find it difficult to navigate the artificial grass.

Can guests bring noisemakers, glitter, or confetti?

Noisemakers, glitter, and confetti are prohibited in Ryan Fieldhouse during the ceremony. Noisemakers will disrupt the recognition of other graduates. Confetti and glitter will ruin the artificial grass football field.

Can guests bring umbrellas?

Umbrellas are prohibited in Ryan Fieldhouse.

What other items are prohibited in Ryan Fieldhouse?

Large items that would obstruct the view of other audience members and weapons are prohibited in Ryan Fieldhouse.

Will there be a reception following the ceremony?

There is no formal reception but graduates and guests will receive grab-and-go snacks when exiting the venue and may reunite with others outside based on individual comfort level.

Graduates will recess directly out of the building after the ceremony. After the ceremony, guests should proceed immediately outside of the venue, where they can reunite with graduates. 

Can I bring a stroller onto the field in Ryan Fieldhouse?

Strollers are not allowed on the field in Ryan Fieldhouse. Instead, you may drop off your stroller at the east end of the North Hall. Staff will be available to direct you to that location.


How can I access the professional photographs taken of me during the hooding ceremony?

A photography vendor named Dynamic Photo Solutions (DPS) hired by the University took official ceremony photos of all graduates while onstage during the hooding ceremony. DPS contacted graduates directly via email and/or text message following the hooding ceremony to share a link to a photo gallery and an option to purchase the photos. 

Additionally, The Graduate School hired a photographer to take candid photos during and after the ceremony. TGS shared a link to a Google Drive of these photos with graduates who participated in the ceremony in an email sent on June 16, 2021. Graduates who participated in the ceremony may view and/or download these photos to share with family and friends. 


Guest Tickets

How many guest tickets is each graduate allowed?

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.

How do guests receive their tickets?

Participating graduates will receive a link to enter the names and email addresses of up to four guests

All electronic guest tickets will be emailed directly to the graduate on Friday, June 4, 2021

It will then be the graduate's responsibility to forward those electronic tickets to their guests. Please check your inbox (including your spam folder) for your guest tickets.


Are there any extra guest tickets or exceptions?

No, unfortunately the guest limit must be strictly enforced and there are no exceptions. A ticket will be required to enter the ceremony and guests must sit in their assigned seats.

Why can’t you fill the empty seats at the venue or let guests move to different seats?

The University is using two venues this year for all June graduation ceremonies: Ryan Field and Ryan Fieldhouse. Each venue will be set for the maximum seating permitted per public health guidelines. Depending on the size of the ceremony, there will be empty seating, but we are unable to fill those seats to ensure all graduates across all ceremonies are allotted the same number of guests. Guests must remain in their assigned seats to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Is there a seating map so I know where my guests will be sitting?

We will provide this information closer to the ceremony.

If I am eligible to attend the ceremony but am not going, can I request guest tickets and give them to a graduate who is attending?

No, only participating graduates are eligible to request guest tickets. All other ticket requests will be canceled and not issued.

Do children need a ticket to attend if they can sit on a lap?

Children under the age of 3 who can sit on a lap do not require a ticket.

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. 

Will the ceremony be livestreamed for guests who cannot attend in person?

Yes, we will provide a livestream link closer to the ceremony.

Ceremony Eligibility

Who is eligible to participate in The Graduate School’s PhD and MFA hooding ceremony?

The Graduate School’s hooding ceremony is open to PhD and MFA graduates of TGS programs in the following schools and programs: 

  • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kellogg School of Management
  • School of Communication
  • Feinberg School of Medicine 
  • TGS Interdisciplinary Programs

All other PhD graduates, along with TGS master of arts (MA), master of science (MS), and master of public health (MPH) graduates, are included in the ceremonies of their home program schools.

What if I completed my degree in the 2019–20 academic year?

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. 

  • For 2019–20 PhD and MFA graduates, this combined hooding ceremony will be in lieu of the Class of 2020 Graduation Celebration that will take place on Saturday, June 12 at 9:00 AM at Ryan Field.

What is the deadline to complete my degree in order to participate?

  • The deadline for TGS to receive program approval of PhD Final Exam forms via GSTS, Dissertations via ProQuest, and change of grade forms for any outstanding Y/K/X/NR grades is Friday, May 7. For additional information about PhD completion, click here.
  • The deadline for TGS to receive program approval of Master’s Degree Completion forms via GSTS and change of grade forms for any outstanding Y/K/X/NR grades is Friday, May 14. For additional information about Master’s completion, click here.

I will complete my degree in Summer (September) 2021. Can I participate in the June 2021 hooding ceremony?

No, Summer (September) 2021 graduates and beyond will be invited to participate in next year’s hooding ceremony in June 2022.

How do I sign up to participate in the hooding ceremony?

All eligible graduates will receive an Intent to Participate form via Northwestern Qualtrics. The deadline to complete this form is Friday, May 7 if you would like to participate in the hooding ceremony in person on June 12.

If you believe you are eligible to participate and did not receive the form, please email TGS Events & Outreach Manager Victoria Williams at victoria.williams@northwestern.eduLate submissions cannot be considered.

Will I still be recognized in some way if I don’t participate in the ceremony?

Northwestern's all-University commencement ceremony will take place virtually on Monday, June 14 at 11:00 AM CDT. Please visit the Commencement website for more information. 

All Summer (September) 2020, Fall (December) 2020, Winter (March) 2021, and Spring (June) 2021 TGS graduates will be recognized virtually in conjunction with this 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 graduates were recognized virtually last year.

Regalia and Hooding Experience

What happens during a hooding ceremony?

A hooding ceremony is similar to a graduation in that faculty and graduates are dressed in academic attire (regalia) and graduates will individually walk across the stage after their name is announced. While on stage, a Northwestern graduate faculty member places the regalia hood that denotes the graduate’s field of study over the head of the graduate, signifying their success in completing the graduate program.

The hooding ceremony is in addition to the University Commencement, which honors all Northwestern graduates.

Who performs the hooding?

During the hooding ceremony this June, one Northwestern graduate faculty volunteer from each participating program will hood all graduates from that program. This is to minimize the faculty presence required and to remain within the limit for in-person events according to public health guidelines.

What is the deadline to order regalia?

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.

What does the regalia include?

Regalia includes your robe, cap/tam, tassel, and hood. Everything except the hood is worn at the start of the ceremony. You will carry your hood and hand it to a faculty member when you walk across the stage and then leave it on for the remainder of the ceremony. You also will remove your tam before walking across the stage so it does not interfere with the hooding process.

I ordered my regalia to be shipped to my home. When will I receive my regalia order?

Regalia orders have already begun to ship. If your order has not already shipped, the regalia vendor Oak Hall will ship all direct-to-home regalia orders by Wednesday, June 2, 2021 (with next-day shipping) for delivery by June 5, 2021. 

Please note: TGS does not manage the regalia ordering or delivery process. The relationship with the regalia vendor Oak Hall is managed by Norris Bookstore. Please direct questions about your regalia order to Steve Hannen, the manager of Norris Bookstore.

I ordered my regalia for pick up at Norris Bookstore. When can I pick it up?

For those who ordered regalia this year and had it shipped to the Norris Bookstore, it is now available for pick-up. The Norris Bookstore pick-up hours are as follows:

  • Monday, June 7 – Thursday, June 10 - 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Friday, June 11 - 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Regalia arrives folded and it benefits from being steamed before wearing.

If you have any questions about picking up your regalia, please contact the Norris Bookstore at 847.491.3992.

Do we flip our tassel from one side of the cap/tam to the other during the ceremony?

No, you will wear your tassel on the left side of your cap/tam during the entire ceremony. Flipping the tassel is only for undergraduate degrees.

What is the correct way to be hooded?

Please see this diagram for some helpful tips.

Do I have to remove my cap/tam before walking across the stage?

Yes, you will remove your cap/tam while lining up next to the stage so it does not interfere with the hooding process. You may quickly place your cap/tam back on your head after you are hooded or when you return to your seat.

What if I am not comfortable being hooded by a faculty member on stage?

We understand everyone may have a different comfort level with an in-person ceremony taking place during a pandemic. If you do not wish to be hooded on stage, please wear your hood over your gown when you walk across the stage instead of carrying it in your hand to denote you do not wish to be hooded. You may still stop on stage for a photo, if you wish.

Do I have to shake hands with the dean?

No, handshakes will not occur this year as a safety precaution. The dean will nod to acknowledge your achievement as you walk across the stage.

Will there be a photographer onsite?

Yes, a photography vendor hired by the University will take photos of all graduates while onstage and contact them directly following the June ceremonies if you wish to purchase photos.

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

COVID-19 Precautions

What pandemic-related precautions are you implementing for the ceremony?

Northwestern will follow the public health guidelines from the State of Illinois and City of Evanston during graduation weekend in June. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Face masks must be worn at all times by all graduates, guests, and faculty members while inside Ryan Fieldhouse, regardless of individual vaccination status.
    • Graduates will receive a purple face mask onsite to complement their regalia.
    • Face masks and hand sanitizer also will be available onsite for guests.
  • Social distancing will be enforced according to the public health guidelines in place at the time of the ceremony.
  • Tickets are required to enter the ceremony venue to ensure capacity limits are adhered to as part of our COVID-19 planning.
  • All guests, graduates, and faculty participants will sit in assigned seats that are socially distanced from one another.
  • Ticketed guests (up to four per participating graduate) will be seated together in pods to allow for social distancing in between ticketed parties.
  • Although the ceremony is indoors, the venue is large, open, is climate-controlled, and has a high quality HVAC system.

Are vaccinations required to attend the ceremony?

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

Is a COVID-19 test required to attend the ceremony?

Testing will not be required, but it is strongly encouraged and offered to graduates participating in graduation ceremonies. If you have any questions about testing, please email

  • Rapid Testing Program: Northwestern has a rapid testing partnership with Abbott using their BinaxNOW antigen test and NAVICA mobile app. Rapid testing is available for students, faculty, staff, and visitors who are actively engaging with our community.
  • Complete a rapid test: at the Jacobs Center at 2001 Sheridan Rd. in Evanston or 345 E. Superior Street in Chicago. Testing sites are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The test is a simple nasal swab that takes less than 15 minutes onsite, and results are available within 30 minutes via the NAVICA app or website. Please follow the steps below:
    • Please download the NAVICA app at App Store or Google Play. If your phone does not support the NAVICA app or if you are experiencing technical difficulties, you can use the NAVICA websiteas an alternative way to access your account.
    • Once you have created your NAVICA account, you are all set to visit to the testing site. When you arrive onsite, please inform a staff member that you are a visitor.
    • The staff member will direct you to the Technical Support Center where you will fill out a consent form and complete the final steps to connect your account to the University.

Will temperature checks happen at the entrance?

No, but face masks will be enforced and hand sanitizer will be provided.

Last Updated: June 8, 2021.