A Return to Camp Randall
Saturday, May 8, 2021

Saturday, May 8, Noon 
Bachelor’s Degree Candidate Ceremony
Keynote speaker: UW alumnus and Broadway star André De Shields

Saturday, May 8, 4 p.m. 
Graduate Degree Candidate Ceremony (including Doctoral, Law, Medical, Professional, and Master’s Degree Candidates)
Keynote speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient: groundbreaking psychologist John Gottman, PhD

Additional Ceremony Details

 

Spring Ceremony Plans

After a year in which students faced many challenges, University of Wisconsin–Madison leaders are pleased to announce plans to hold in-person commencement ceremonies for spring 2021 graduates at Camp Randall. The university is planning to hold two ceremonies on Saturday, May 8 — one for undergraduates, the other for all graduate degree candidates. Families and friends may participate virtually.

Where Should I Direct My Inquiry?

Sign up for Ceremony Updates

Subscribe to receive emails about the ceremonies. Students who have applied to graduate with the intention of attending the commencement ceremony will automatically receive updates.

Sign up to receive updates.

What to expect

Every effort is being made to offer a safe, memorable and fun celebration for Spring 2021 graduates, while also following local, state and national guidance on public health and safety.

  • Attendance at Commencement is limited to Spring 2021 graduates only; family and friends may participate virtually via a live stream.
  • Tailgating, camping, and accompanying graduates to the ceremony site will be prohibited.
  • Visitors can expect most campus buildings to be closed to the public. Memorial Union and Union South are open with limitations.
  • Visitors should be aware that Dane County enforces COVID-related restrictions, including:
    • Limitations on gatherings
    • Face covering mandate
    • Limitations on businesses, including retail and hospitality
  • Visitors should expect adjusted restaurant, dining and bar options. As of this writing, only some restaurants and bars are open at limited capacity, and/or offering only take out dining. Delivery is available from many restaurants as well as several mobile food ordering and delivery apps. Many establishments are understaffed due to COVID workforce reductions, resulting in longer wait times for service.
  • We encourage you to contact area partners for more information on the current environment in Madison:

A Commencement Update from the Senior Class Officers

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is the University of Wisconsin–Madison holding a Commencement ceremony?

The University of Wisconsin–Madison will celebrate the Class of 2021 graduates as part of special May ceremonies. Graduates are invited to join in-person, and families and guests can join virtually.

The in-person ceremonies are open to all Spring 2021 graduates. Graduates will be asked at a later date to register to indicate their interest in attending.

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What do I need to do to participate in the Camp Randall noon ceremony if I am a currently enrolled Bachelor’s Degree Candidate?

You must have a green Badger Badge. Badger Wellness Ambassadors will be monitoring the entrances at Camp Randall Stadium to ensure everyone has a green badge to enter. There will be no exceptions. You should test at an on campus testing site either May 5 or 6 and receive a negative test result. Please check your Safer Badgers app for location and hours of testing sites.

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Who will be the keynote speaker?

Two Ceremonies will be held for graduates only on Saturday, May 8. Both ceremonies will be livestreamed.

Saturday, May 8, Noon 
Bachelor’s Degree Candidate Ceremony
Keynote speaker: UW alumnus and Broadway star André De Shields

Saturday, May 8, 4 p.m. 
Graduate Degree Candidate Ceremony (including Doctoral, Law, Medical, Professional, and Master’s Degree Candidates)
Keynote speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient: groundbreaking psychologist John Gottman, PhD

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When will I get my mobile ticket?

Tickets will be issued once a graduate has completed all parts of the Canvas module. Tickets will be electronic and sent to the email provided in the ticket request form.

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Can I watch the commencement ceremony in person?

To learn more about viewing the commencement ceremony in-person please visit this website from the Wisconsin Union.

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Where can I park and is it free?

Parking is available and free at all campus lots, except for Lot 17, staring noon on Friday May 7th through Sunday May 9th at noon. Please consult this map of available lots.

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What if I am vaccinated, can I participate in the Camp Randall ceremonies?

Your Badger Badge must show Evergreen to prove that you have been vaccinated. UHS will need proof that you have received the final dose in a vaccine series on or before Saturday, April 24, 2021.  This includes the following: 

o    Single dose Johnson and Johnson OR 

o    Final dose of two dose Pfizer or Moderna OR 

o    Final dose of internationally approved vaccine OR 

o    Final dose of trial vaccines administered in the United States 

If you receive your final dose in a vaccine series after April 24, your Badger Badge will not be Evergreen and you will need to test negative for COVID-19 on campus May 5 or 6 in order have a green Badger Badge.

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What do I need to do to participate in the Camp Randall 4:00 p.m. ceremony if I am a currently enrolled Graduate Degree Candidate?

You must have a green Badger Badge. Badger Wellness Ambassadors will be monitoring the entrances at Camp Randall Stadium to ensure everyone has a green badge to enter. There will be no exceptions. You should test at a campus testing site the week of May 2 and receive a negative test result. Please check your Safer Badgers app for location and hours of testing sites.

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What if a graduate cannot attend the in-person ceremony?

Graduates who are unable to participate in-person are invited to join virtually and celebrate from wherever they are. More details will be provided on virtual ceremony details at a later date.

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How do I order a cap and gown?

Reserve your cap and gown through the University Bookstore (click on the graduation tab).

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How can I obtain a program?

Programs will be available at the ceremony. Copies of the Commencement program will be made available in the Office of the Registrar (333 East Campus Mall, 10th Floor). There is no charge.

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Why can't guests attend the in-person ceremonies?

Commencement is a cause for celebration, and family and friends are an important part of this tradition. Inviting guests to join virtually is the best way to allow a safe, in-person Commencement experience for our graduates.

The safety and well-being of the campus community led to this decision. It was made in close consultation with UW Health, University Health Services, and Dane County, which has guided our successful COVID-19 response for the past year. CDC guidelines recommend that people avoid travel because of the continued pandemic across the U.S. and globe.

The in-person ceremonies are contingent on continued progress in controlling COVID-19 on campus and in the community. Health and safety requirements will include physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings. Participating graduates will need to be part of the Safer Badgers testing program and show a green “access granted” Badger Badge on their Safer Badgers mobile app for entrance to Camp Randall. “Access granted” signifies adherence to campus safety protocols, including having a recent negative COVID-19 test result on file.  Limiting in-person ceremonies to graduates only allows us to use our proven public health strategy to ensure a safe Commencement celebration.

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Will there be a live stream of the ceremony?

The commencement ceremony will be streamed live online. The ceremony will be streamed through the University’s YouTube channel. A YouTube display will appear on the commencement home page about 15 minutes before the start of the ceremonyArchived video of the ceremony will be available shortly after commencement weekend.

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What do I need to do to participate in the Camp Randall ceremony if I am a currently enrolled student but I am not currently using the Safer Badger testing protocols?

  • You should download the Safer Badgers app.
  • UW-Madison has been using the Safer Badgers app spring semester to test students and staff for COVID-19. It manages and tracks COVID-19 test results and allows students and staff with green badges to gain access to campus spaces. A green Badger Badge will allow you to enter Camp Randall Stadium and participate in the commencement ceremony.
  • If you are an undergraduate student, you should test May 5 or 6 at a campus testing location and receive a negative test result.
  • If you are a graduate student, you should test the week of May 2 at a campus testing location and receive a negative test result.
  • It is a saliva-based test. The testing process should take several minutes. Results will be available within 24 hours. They will be provided to you on the Safer Badgers app and via the myUHS portal.
  • Your Safer Badgers app will be used by Badger Wellness Ambassadors outside the entrances to prove you have tested negative for COVID-19 or are fully vaccinated.
  • If you do not have a green Badger Badge, you will not be allowed in to Camp Randall Stadium to participate in the commencement ceremony. There will be no exceptions.
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How can fans be allowed at sporting and other large events, but not family and friends at Commencement ceremonies?

Commencement ceremonies involve thousands of graduates. Due to the scale of these events, the best way to ensure the safety of our students and campus is to host in-person ceremonies for graduates only, while guests join virtually. In accordance with CDC guidelines, travel to Madison is strongly discouraged to minimize the risks of COVID-19.

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Where are the Safer Badgers checkpoints and photo locations around Camp Randall?

Please consult this map of Camp Randall to view Safer Badgers checkpoints, photo locations, and plan your travel route to and from the ceremony.

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When are the ceremonies?

Two Ceremonies will be held for graduates only on Saturday, May 8. Both ceremonies will be livestreamed.

Saturday, May 8, Noon 
Bachelor’s Degree Candidate Ceremony
Keynote speaker: UW alumnus and Broadway star André De Shields

Saturday, May 8, 4 p.m. 
Graduate Degree Candidate Ceremony (including Doctoral, Law, Medical, Professional, and Master’s Degree Candidates)
Keynote speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient: groundbreaking psychologist John Gottman, PhD

We anticipate each ceremony to last approximately an hour.

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When will the details be shared about the ceremony?

Graduates will be asked to indicate their interest in participating, which will be used to determine the details of each ceremony. Once graduates have responded to the request, campus organizers will finalize plans for the best arrangements for graduates that allow for proper physical distancing.

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How will the University of Wisconsin–Madison ensure the ceremonies are safe?

Physically distancing seating and requiring masks are just some of the ways that we ensure a safe event for all. In addition to limiting in-person ceremonies to only graduates, those who participate will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing.

The in-person ceremonies are contingent on continued progress in controlling COVID-19 on campus and in the community. Health and safety requirements will include physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings. Participating graduates will need to be part of the Safer Badgers testing program and show a green “access granted” Badger Badge on their Safer Badgers mobile app for entrance to Camp Randall. “Access granted” signifies adherence to campus safety protocols, including having a recent negative COVID-19 test result on file.  Limiting in-person ceremonies to graduates only allows us to use our proven public health strategy to ensure a safe Commencement celebration.

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Will graduates receive their diplomas at the ceremonies?

No, Class of 2021 graduates will receive their diplomas and diploma covers by mail 6-8 weeks after grades have been entered.

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What can items can I carry-in to Camp Randall?

Please refer to this document which outlines what you may bring in to Camp Randall. Items permitted: Bags no larger than 8.5” x 11”, binoculars, cameras, blankets, jackets, items related to a medical condition, chairbacks (not more than 16” wide), flowers (with no glass vase) and diaper bags (with child). Items prohibited (including, but not limited to): Bags larger than 8.5” x 11” (including backpacks), food, beverages, containers, strollers, baby carriers, umbrellas, laser pointers, banners, flags, signs, noisemakers, nooses, ropes, weapons, replicas of weapons, inflatables, laptops, video recorders, monopods, tripods, selfie sticks, drones or any items deemed dangerous or inappropriate. All items and spectators are subject to search. Storage facilities are not available for checking prohibited items. Items left at gates will be disposed of accordingly.

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How will the seating be assigned?

We are still working on the details of the stadium seating and will provide more details soon.

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Will graduates walk across the stage?

No, due to the size of the event a stage walk will not be possible.

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Will names be read of the graduates in attendance?

No, traditionally the Camp Randall ceremony does not read names. Graduate degree candidates who traditionally participate in the Kohl Center ceremony, who are attending Camp Randall this year, will not have their names read.

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What happens in the event of inclement weather?

The ceremonies will take place rain or shine. If severe weather is forecast, graduates will be notified of any changes in the schedule such as a delay in the start time. Ceremonies may also be condensed in response to severe weather.

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Could the ceremony be postponed or cancelled?

While every effort is being made to celebrate in person in May 2021, there is a possibility that we may have to postpone or cancel due to on-going public health conditions. If any changes are made, we will update graduates via email and on our website.

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Will the event be ticketed?

Graduates will have the opportunity to register to attend and seating will be assigned once attendee numbers are finalized. Graduates will be provided staggered arrival times and assigned sections and/or seats.

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I need to request an accommodation in order to participate in the ceremonies, such as an interpreter, sight line to closed captioning, wheelchair seating, or an ADA parking permit, who do I reach out to?

Accommodations will be handled per request and all requests need to be submitted by April 23 for consideration. Please contact our office at commence@chancellor.wisc.edu with as much detail regarding the request as possible.

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Will there be a printed commencement program?

Graduates, families and guests can request a printed program to be mailed to them in June.

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Will schools, colleges, departments and other organizations on campus be allowed to host Commencement events?

The only in-person Commencement activities will be the official graduation ceremonies. In past years, schools and colleges often have held their own events to honor graduates in addition to the campus-wide ceremonies. This spring, however, any additional celebrations will be virtual, not in-person.

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Will graduates of the Class of 2020, which had virtual ceremonies, be able to attend?

The ceremonies on May 8 will be only for 2021 spring graduates. The university is planning an in-person celebration for all 2020 spring and winter graduates for this upcoming fall. More details on the fall celebration will be released as plans come together.

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What if I completed my degree requirements in Winter 2020 and indicated participation in the Spring 2021 ceremony on my Student Center, Apply to Graduate section?

Please contact the commencement office at commence@chancellor.wisc.edu by April 21, 2021 for policy and procedure information.

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What if there's a spike in COVID-19 cases at the time of Commencement?

UW will be continually monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, and all plans are subject to change based on the public health outlook in each community. The university is committed to keeping campus and our community safe and will communicate directly with graduates if plans change.

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What if I test positive for COVID-19 during the week of the in-person ceremonies?

If you test positive for COVID-19, the app will note that you are in isolation and your access to campus buildings will be denied for that period, including attendance at the ceremonies. If you are not experiencing any symptoms within the last 24 hours of your isolation, you will be able to once again access campus buildings and will be exempt from testing for 80 days.

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What if I have the Safer Badger app, but I am not in Madison for testing?

We are identifying alternative protocols to ensure that you can participate in the ceremony, please contact us directly so that we can provide you with the necessary information when it is available: commence@chancellor.wisc.edu

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Will the University of Wisconsin–Madison reconsider inviting guests to attend in-person Commencement ceremonies if there's a drop in COVID-19 cases?

Even if infection rates in communities across Wisconsin decline, large gatherings on campus increase the risk of infection for everyone. The best way to ensure a safe, in-person Commencement celebration for our graduates is to operate within the same controlled environment that has allowed UW to safely keep its campus open since the fall.

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What if I have an exemption from saliva based tests, or frequency of testing through the Safer Badger testing program?

Students who have exemptions in place for the current semester with the Safer Badger testing program should contact us directly for information on how they can participate in the ceremonies: commence@chancellor.wisc.edu

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Do I need academic attire to participate in the in-person ceremonies?

Yes, academic attire is required for participation in the ceremony. Graduates who are unable to attend the in-person ceremonies can also reserve attire to use for the virtual commencement, and for photo opportunities. Please see the University Book Store’s May Graduation Timeline for information on reserving your attire.

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Can I attend with a faculty escort?

PhD, DMA and MFA degree candidates have the option to invite a faculty advisor to serve as their escort. The faculty member would need to also be following the Safer Badger protocols and display a green Badger Badge at point of entry to the ceremony. If the faculty member abides by those protocols, they can attend with the degree candidate.

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Can families and friends of graduates enter the athletics complex park or surrounding areas during Commencement?

Only graduates will be permitted in the Camp Randall area. Tailgating, camping, and accompanying graduates to the ceremony site will be prohibited. Commencement 2021 will be attended by graduates only, and families and friends will be able to watch the ceremony online, at a link that will be provided before Commencement weekend. To help ensure everyone’s safety, travel to Madison by graduates’ families and friends is strongly discouraged.

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What if I am completing my degree in Summer 2021?

Graduates who are completing their degree requirements within one semester of Spring 2021 can participate in the ceremonies. Complete your Apply to Graduate and indicate when you are completing your degree and that you would like to participate in the Spring 2021 ceremonies in order to be included in the program and receive all of the necessary information.

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