Kohl Center FAQs

Below are the frequently asked questions for the Spring 2016 Commencement ceremony to be held at the Kohl Center. View FAQs for the Camp Randall Stadium Commencement ceremony.


All PhD, Medical Professional and MFA degree candidates from all schools and colleges will participate in a commencement ceremony on Friday, May 13, in the Kohl Center, 601 W. Dayton St. The ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. sharp. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and graduates are to be seated by 5:10 p.m. If you are not sure which commencement ceremony to attend, see Event Details.

No tickets are required for degree candidates who participate in commencement or for their families/guests. There is no limit to the number of guests that each degree candidate may invite.

Commencement is scheduled to last approximately two hours.

Yes. All bachelor, doctoral and professional degree candidates will cross the stage when their name is called and shake hands with an administrator. After degree candidates cross the stage, a commemorative photo will be taken.

A form will be placed on each chair that graduates must complete — one part of the form provides contact information for receiving photo proofs, and on the other part of the form degree candidates will print their name. The form is handed to commencement staff as graduates approach the stage, and this is what our readers will read from when they call names as students cross the stage.

Degree candidates and escorts should be in their seats at least 30 minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to begin. Families and guests are welcome to arrive beginning at 8:30 a.m..

Parking will be available both on campus and in city ramps. Parking in all campus lots will be free from noon on Friday, May 13 until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 15. A map of campus parking lots is available at the Campus Map.

The commencement ceremony will be streamed live online. Windows Media Player and a broadband connection are required in order to view it. The link to the stream will be posted on the UW–Madison home page. The stream will not be available until shortly before the beginning of the ceremony. Archived video of the ceremony will be available shortly after commencement weekend.

For degree candidates

Students completing degree requirements during the 2016 spring semester are welcome to participate in 2016 Spring Commencement ceremonies. Students who completed degree requirements in fall 2015 or who anticipate completing in August 2016 are also welcome to participate in 2016 Spring Commencement. Attendance is not required, but the university encourages your participation

All graduates and faculty escorts are seated on the floor of the Kohl Center by school/college/degree. Marshals in red robes will be present to help you find your section. Please note that access to the floor of the Kohl Center is restricted to graduates, faculty escorts, and commencement officials. Parents and guests are not permitted access to the Kohl Center floor.

Degree candidates who will require accessible seating on the Kohl Center floor should contact commencement staff. We will designate a space for your wheelchair and let you know in advance of the ceremony where you will be seated.

Professional photographers will take individual photographs of graduates as they receive their diploma folders and as they leave the platform. Instructions for receiving complimentary photographic proofs will be available on each degree candidate's chair.

The Registrar's Office can provide you with a letter. You should email certs@em.wisc.edu with the following information: Full name, student ID, and date of birth. The Registrar’s Office will then email you a letter that you can print for visa purposes.

Ph.D., D.M.A., and M.F.A. degree candidates only will need to select a faculty escort. Commencement is a celebration of the achievements of our graduates, and in this regard the escorts of the candidates are intended to be their major professors who have contributed significantly to their academic growth and success. Degree candidates are responsible for identifying an appropriate professor to serve as a faculty escort, and asking that person to perform the role. Although the identities of the escorts are not confirmed, we do ask that this practice of major professor escorts be followed whenever possible.

In these circumstances, other degree committee members or other departmental faculty fulfill the escort role. When that is not possible, the marshals at commencement are prepared to serve as an escort.

Faculty escorts always should seat themselves and march on the candidate’s right, allowing the candidate to move ahead as he/she approaches center stage to receive the diploma folder from the dean of the Graduate School. The candidate and escort will then return to their seats.

Faculty escorts accompanying more than one candidate should sit with all of her/his candidates as close as possible to the front of the Ph.D/DMA/MFA section. This "group" of graduates and escort will march together to the platform on-ramp. The escort may either accompany all of the candidates as a group across the platform or, alternately, accompany one candidate at a time across the platform. In the latter case, the remaining candidates wait by the on-ramp until the escort returns and repeats the routine.

You may order your attire online, over the phone or in person through the University Book Store. Gowns may be rented or purchased. The ordering process will help you choose a gown based on your school and degree. See Cap and Gown for more information.


You will receive your red diploma cover when you cross the stage. As in years past, the actual diploma will be mailed by the Office of the Registrar several weeks following the end of the semester. Read more about your diploma.

Attendance is completely voluntary; diplomas will be mailed several weeks after the ceremony, and choosing to bypass the ceremony will not affect your graduation status. However, given the event’s special significance for graduates and their families and friends, we encourage you to participate.

Complete the “Apply to Graduate” form available in Student Center (via MyUW). Read more on our Steps to Prepare page.

Degree candidates should work with their advisor or their department coordinator to ensure that they have completed their degree requirements.

For individuals with disabilities

All ceremonies will be fully accessible. Guests do not need to register ahead of time for accessible seating. At the Kohl Center, drop-off service and accessible seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for individuals with disabilities or older guests. Guests needing assistance once they arrive at the Kohl Center can call 608-263-5645 for a wheelchair escort or find golf cart escorts from Dayton Street. The seating structure provides one companion seat for each accessible seat, and we ask that guests respect these guidelines so that everyone in need of accessible seating can be accommodated.

If you are a degree candidate who will require accessible seating on the Kohl Center floor, or if you have additional questions or concerns about accessibility for guests, please don’t hesitate to contact commencement staff.

All guests at the Kohl Center will be able to read the captioning on the video screens. In addition, ASL interpreters will be on-site in a designated area. If you need to view the ASL interpreters, contact commencement staff to reserve a seat in this section.

For more information

For questions related to degree requirements or other academic matters, contact the Office of the Registrar at 608-262-3811 or email reginfo@em.wisc.edu

For other commencement-related questions, call us at 608-263-2400 or email us at commence@chancellor.wisc.edu

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