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Commencement FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


Who do I contact with questions? Please contact

How do seniors find out about all the things they need to do in their final semester?
Seniors receive periodic emails throughout the year. If you have questions for any office/department, please reach out to them directly via email. Students will also receive information from the Student Accounts Office throughout the spring semester reminding them to clear any balance due on their account that could prevent them from receiving their diploma.  Visit the graduate checklist page. There will be a Senior Fair, planned for March 23, 2022, where a number of departments/offices are available to share information important for graduates. A representative from Herff Jones (where you can order your cap/gown) will also be at the Fair.

What could prevent a graduate from receiving their diploma?

Any balance due on a graduate’s student account will prevent them from receiving their diploma at Commencement. Graduates who have a balance due may participate in Commencement but may not be allowed to receive their diploma or transcripts until the financial obligation to the college has been met. Email with questions.

Who is eligible to participate in Commencement?

All December and January graduates, May candidates, and other candidates who are within eight credits of completing requirements may participate in Commencement. Questions about eligibility should be directed to the Registrar’s office at

Will photos be taken of graduates onstage at the Commencement ceremony?

Yes, a professional photo will be taken of each graduate. Students can typically expect proofs soon after Commencement. If proofs are not received from GradImages, students should visit the website at and type in their last name, school, and graduation year to find their proofs. GradImages has a large team of customer care representatives ready to help graduates and family members with questions.

What happens if it rains?

We will hold the Commencement ceremony, rain or shine. The ceremony is planned to be held on the Great Lawn, with the Leonard Center Fieldhouse as the alternate space if there is inclement weather. Please check back regularly for updates. We also recommend watching the forecast and dressing for the weather.

How many guests can I invite to Commencement?

The 2022 Commencement ceremony is a ticketed event. More information with details and the number of guests each graduate will be able to invite will be shared soon.

Do infants/children under two years old count as a ticketed guest?

No. Any child under two (2) years of age, not occupying a seat, may attend without a ticket, and therefore not count towards a graduate’s guest ticket limit.

How will guests receive tickets, and are tickets transferable?

The process and details for ticketing have not yet been decided. Most likely we will follow a process similar to what was done for the Grad Walks: graduates received their e-tickets via email and SMS a few days prior, and were responsible for forwarding the ticket information to their guests. 

How will graduates get their cap and gown?

Graduates will be able to order their gown, cap, tassel (and other keepsake items) via the Herff Jones ordering site, which will be live shortly after January 1, 2022. More information will be shared with graduates once the site is live. The deadline to order via the ordering site is March 25, 2022. Orders will arrive on campus and be available for pick up in the bookstore prior to Commencement. Please check back regularly for updates. Questions, please email

What about accessibility/accommodations or other specific needs/requests at Commencement?

We will arrange for ASL interpreting, closed captioning and accessible seating. If you or your guest(s) require special accommodations or guidance, email Please be sure to designate this need when signing up for tickets.

How are student speakers selected?

At the beginning of spring term, all seniors, as well as faculty and staff, are invited to nominate a senior to give this address. The Selection Committee consists of one faculty member, three students and two staff.

How is the Commencement speaker selected?

The speaker selection rests with the college president. Generally, speakers are selected because the speaker’s work or activities embody Macalester’s core values; they have a record of outstanding achievement or they have a special attachment to Macalester.

What do all the sashes colors and medals represent?

Graduates might receive honors from academic honors societies or other departments or organizations on campus. Here is a key to regalia that students may receive:

  • African Music Ensemble, Kente Stoles
  • Alpha Kappa Delta-Sociology Honors Society, Teal Honor Cords
  • Anthropology Major, Lilac Cords
  • Department of Multicultural Life, Stoles
  • Epsilon Kappa Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon-International Geography
  • Honors Society, Gold, Dark Blue, and Light Blue Honor Cords
  • Epsilon Kappa Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon-International Geography
  • Honors Society Presidents, Gold Stoles
  • Eta Sigma Phi-Classics Honor Society, Purple and Gold Honor Cords
  • First Generation Graduates, Pale Blue Honor Cords
  • Graduate School Exploration Fellowship Scholars, Two-color Green and Blue Braided Cords
  • International Students, Home Country Flag Sashes
  • Lavender Graduation Participants, Rainbow Tassels
  • Mac Weekly, Plum Honor Cords
  • Nu Rho Psi-Neuroscience Honors Society, Black, Silver, and Gold Honor Cords
  • Omicron Delta Epsilon-Economics Honor Society, Yellow, Gold, and Royal Blue Honor Cords
  •  Phi Alpha Theta-History Honor Society, Light Blue and Red Honor Cords
  •  Pi Sigma Alpha-Political Science Honors Society, Red, Black, and White Honor Cords
  •  Psi Chi-Psychology Honors Society, Orange and Blue Honor Cords
  •  QuestBridge, Teal, Royal Blue, and Silver Honor Cords
  •  Sigma Tau Delta-English Honor Society, Black and Red Honor Cords
  •  Summa Cum Laude, Gold Honor Cords
  •  Tri Beta-Biology Honors Society, Red and Green Honor Cords

Are tickets required for the Commencement Ceremony? Do we need to register?

Yes, Commencement is a ticketed event. Information will be provided when more details become available.

Where can I park?

All campus parking lots are open to guests and there will be designated ADA accessible parking spots available.


Will there be other senior events this year?

Yes! Events and celebrations are held throughout the week to honor graduates. Please visit the Schedule of Events and Senior Week pages for more information.


What steps will Macalester take to keep everyone safe?

As part of this community’s culture of mutual care and accountability, we adhere to the Mac Stays Safer 2.0 policy and our community commitment. Please visit our Covid-19 FAQ page.

Who do I contact with questions about Commencement? Please contact