Winter Ceremony 2021

Winter Ceremony 2021

Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degree Ceremony
Sunday, December 19, 2021 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. Please note the ceremony typically lasts approximately 2.5 hours. A Livestream of the ceremony will be available here on YouTube. Learn more about the ceremony on our event page.

Manu Raju ’02, CNN’s chief congressional correspondent, will be this year’s commencement speaker. Learn more about Raju here and watch the video announcement.

Guests, family members and friends are welcome to attend. There is no ticketing for attendance and seating is general admission, first come, first served. Anyone needing accommodations should meet with Guest Services at Gate A for assistance. If you are a graduate in need of accommodations please email

Shuttle service will be available along University Ave. and Johnson St.  Please consult this parking map to view the route and our parking and shuttle page for more information.

The Winter 2021 Commencement Program is now available! Learn about our speakers, what to expect at the ceremony, and the graduate list.


Graduates, looking for information about where you will be seated? 

Graduates should enter the Kohl Center arena at Gate A (W. Dayton St. entrance).

Candidate seating is arranged by school, college or degree type. Please refer to this Candidate Seating Map for the location of the seating blocks, and corresponding sections of the Kohl Center.

Commencement Marshals wearing cardinal red academic attire will be available to assist you with seating.

If you are in need of accessibility accommodations, please contact our office at immediately for assistance.

Degree candidates with faculty escorts should ask their faculty escort to sit on their right.

No guests, including children (with the exception of nursing mothers) are permitted in the candidate seating area. No food or beverages of any kind are permitted. Please review the carry-in policy as well as the metal detector procedures to plan accordingly. Flowers are allowed inside the Kohl Center, however glass containers, balloons, backpacks and wrapped gifts are not allowed.

Will my name be read?

Yes, graduate names will be read as candidates cross the stage. A name card will be located on your chair when you arrive, and we ask that you print your name phonetically, how you would like it pronounced, so that our name readers are accurate.

Will I receive a diploma?

Each graduate will receive a diploma folder from their dean as they cross the stage. We request that you please refrain from giving handshakes at this time. Diplomas will be mailed out to graduates 6-8 weeks after grades are entered. Please be sure to update your home address in MyUW for where your diploma will be mailed to.

Will masks be required? 

Yes, well fitting face coverings will be required for anyone attending winter commencement. This includes all graduates, family members, guests, faculty and staff. Both UW–Madison and Dane County have extended masking requirements into January. UW–Madison’s mask order remains in effect on campus until at least January 15 and includes all campus buildings, including the Kohl Center. UW is a state entity and its orders are not affected by Dane County decisions.


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. All graduates should reserve their academic attire by December 18, 2021. Call (608) 257-3784, extension 5924, if you have questions. 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.  Read about the significance of the cap and gown.

Eligible undergraduate degree candidates can also order a stole from the University Book Store here. Honors candidates do not need to pre-order stoles; the University Book Store will receive a list of honors candidates in advance. Academic stoles, for the foreseeable future, will also now only be available as purchase only.

If interested, seniors can sign a sustainability pledge at the University Bookstore and receive a green ribbon to wear with their cap and gown. The Office of Sustainability will be at the University Bookstore everyday, through winter commencement, handing out ribbons to those who sign pledges.

Graduates show of the spirit through cap decorations during a Class of 2020 Graduate Celebration at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on Sept. 17, 2021. The event attracted nearly 2,700 Class of 2020 alumni who registered to attend some or all of a series of in-person events honoring the Class of 2020 the weekend of Sept. 17-19, 2021. UW-Madison’s Spring 2020 in-person commencement ceremonies were cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)


Cappy Hour at Wheelhouse Studios

When: Dec. 16 & 17, noon-10 p.m.

Where: Wheelhouse Studios on the lower level of Memorial Union

Notes: Bring your graduation cap and give it your personal artistic touch with an assortment of gems, sparkles, stencils, paints, glue and more provided for free by Wheelhouse Studios, while supplies last. Cappy Hour is a great way to decompress after (your last!) finals, and get ready for your next adventure.


The deadline to Apply to Graduate is November 5, 2021. Applying to graduate by the deadline ensures that your name will be included in the official Commencement Program.  Students who apply to graduate after the deadline will not see their name in the printed program.

Visit the student center’s instruction page and the Office of the Registrar’s webpage  for detailed instructions on how to apply to graduate.  Master’s and PhD students can find additional information on the Graduate School’s “completing your degree” webpage.


This event is subject to public health guidelines which are subject to change at any time. Campus event policies, Kohl Center policies and carry-in procedures will be enforced in alignment with Public Health Madison Dane County. Graduates, family, guests, faculty and staff are reminded that both UW–Madison and Dane County have extended masking requirements into January. A well-fitting face covering will be required for anyone attending winter commencement. This includes all graduates, family members, guests, faculty and staff. UW–Madison’s mask order remains in effect on campus until January 15 and will be re-evaluated before that point. UW is a state entity and its orders are not affected by Dane County decisions. In regards to COVID-19, please consult PHMDC, the latest emergency orderCDC guidelines, and the Campus Event Guidelines under the COVID Campus Operations Response page. The Winter Commencement Ceremony will adapt to changing public health guidelines as necessary.

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