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December 16, 2018

Information for Graduates

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! The university salutes your achievements and extends its best wishes for your future success. Please review the following information in preparation for your commencement ceremony.

The Basics

Winter Ceremony

Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degree Ceremony
Sunday, December 16, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Kohl Center, 601 W. Dayton Street
Doors open at 8:00 a.m., graduates are asked to be seated by 9:40 a.m.

Apply to graduate

All students must apply to graduate. The deadline to apply is Friday, November 2, 2018 to have your name included in the commencement program. Visit the Student Center’s instruction page or watch the demo. Master’s and Ph.D. students can also find information on the Graduate School’s “Completing Your Degree” webpage.

Reserve your Cap and Gown

All graduates should reserve their academic attire by November 2, 2018.  View the University Book Store’s timeline for information regarding ordering and picking up attire. Call (608) 257-3784, extension 5924, if you have questions. Read about the significance of the cap and gown.

Graduates facing financial hardship, who cannot afford to rent their academic attire, should contact the Commencement office for a scholarship application to support the costs associated with renting a cap and gown.  Scholarship requests need to be submitted by October 26, 2018 to be considered for approval.

Eligible undergraduate degree candidates will also pick up an honors stole, for which a refundable deposit is required. Honors candidates do not need to pre-order stoles; the University Book Store will receive a list of honors candidates in advance.  Please contact your Dean’s office, or Honors Program to ensure you have met the qualifications to receive your Honors Degree.

Attend the recognition event hosted by your school, college, department or division

Schools, colleges, divisions, departments or programs may host their own event during commencement weekend. For questions related to these events, please contact your school or college. Check to see when the special recognition event for your major or program will be hosted.

Complete your Graduation Plans Survey

Please take a few minutes to update us online about your post-graduate plans. All responses will be aggregated so that we can communicate the important contributions and accomplishments of UW-Madison graduates. This information will also be used to improve our academic programs.


Photos at Your Commencement Ceremony

Empire Photography has been photographing our commencement ceremonies for many years. Each graduate is photographed as they receive their diploma and a solo portrait is also taken after they exit the stage. Proofs will be sent to graduates and their families within 48 hours of the ceremony. Pre-register your email address so you can receive your complimentary proofs quickly. Your commencement is a once-in-a-lifetime moment so don’t miss out! If you have any questions, please email Empire Photography at

Empire Photography will be conducting Graduate Portrait Sessions for FREE on 11/28, 11/29, 12/4, 12/5 and 12/6.  Please pre-register for a session spot by using this sign-up form. Check T.I.T.U. for room locations.


UW–Madison is proud to work with Empire Photography, a locally owned small business established in 1983 by UW–Madison alumni Mark and Maggie Smith.

Faculty Escorts

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. Degree candidates will be asked to provide the name of their faculty escort when they complete the “apply to graduate” application. Although the identities of the escorts are not confirmed, we do ask that this practice of major professor escorts be followed whenever possible.

The faculty escort for a doctor of philosophy, doctor of musical arts and master of fine arts candidate sits with the candidate during the ceremony and accompanies the candidate across the platform during the march.

A faculty escort is expected to wear academic attire appropriate to her or his degree.

There are instances when a major professor is not able to escort a candidate, and in those 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 the escort.

During the Ceremony

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

Faculty escorts with 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 accompany all of the candidates as a group across the platform or the escort may accompany one candidate at a time across the platform while the remaining candidates wait by the on-ramp until the escort returns and repeats the routine.