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University of Wisconsin–Madison
December 17, 2017

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

Instructions for graduates

Doctoral, Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree Ceremony
Sunday, December 17, 10:00 a.m.
Kohl Center
Doors open at 8:00 a.m., graduates are asked to be seated by 9:40 a.m.
Visit the Student Center’s instruction page. Master’s and Ph.D. students can also find information on the Graduate School’s “Completing Your Degree” webpage.

A graduate seating diagram of the Kohl Center shows where graduates will be seated for the ceremony. Read a letter to graduates with instructions for the ceremony.  The ceremony program is now available.

Accessibility Needs or ADA assistance

Graduates who require additional assistance with the ceremony should contact the commencement office directly.  Please let us know as many details as possible to assist us with best addressing your needs.

Reserve your Cap and Gown

In spring 2017, the gown designs were updated to include the University of Wisconsin–Madison colors and crest logo, providing both a pop of red among the traditional sea of black and an additional display of UW spirit that’s recognizable to all.  To ensure that your academic regalia is reflective of the new design, please place your reservation order through the University Book Store.  View the University Book Store’s timeline for picking up attire. Call (608) 257-3784, extension 5924, if you have questions.

Rental of undergraduate (bachelor’s) academic attire is $46.99. Rental of doctoral or master’s attire is around $80. Graduates facing financial hardship, who cannot afford to rent their academic attire, should contact the Commencement office for more information about financial aid for attire rental. We want to ensure that no graduate is prevented from participating in commencement because of financial circumstances.

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. Read about the significance of the cap and gown.

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

Each school, college, division or program may host its 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.


Photo opportunities will be provided throughout the semester for graduates:


November 30, December 5, 6 and 7 (Union South), at Union South, see TITU for day of room location

Photos with Abe on Bascom Hill

Thursday, November 9, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Photos at Your Commencement Ceremony

All graduates will also have the opportunity to have formal graduate portraits taken during their commencement ceremony as they receive their diploma and a solo portrait after they exit the stage.

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

Proofs will be sent to graduates and their families within 48 hours of the ceremony. Click on the link below to 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

Click Here to Receive Your Graduation Proofs!

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.