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Commencement FAQ


  • 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 credits and eligibility should be directed to the Registrar’s office at [email protected].

  • 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. Please see the Graduation Checklist page for more information.

  • What could prevent a graduate from receiving their diploma?

    Students will 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. Graduates who have a balance due may participate in Commencement but might not receive their diploma or transcripts until the financial obligation to the college has been met. Email [email protected] with questions.


  • How do I order a cap and gown?

    Rental gown, cap, tassel pre-orders will be available for pick up at the Highlander – The Shop at Macalester between May 6 and May 10. If you ordered regalia you will recieve an email reminder about this, and exact times will be announced closer to the pick-up dates.

    If you did not order ahead, the Highlander will have a limited number extra robes available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis. Please visit the bookstore or email [email protected] for more information.

    Caps and gowns are not required to participate in the Commencement ceremony.


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

    Yes, a professional photo will be taken of each graduate, and students can typically expect proofs via email shortly after Commencement. If you don’t receive an email, please use the search function at to find your proofs.

  • Will the ceremony be available online?

    Yes, we will live stream the May Commencement ceremony. The link for the live stream will be posted on our main Commencement webpage prior to the event. We will also post a link to the recording shortly after the ceremony.

  • Do I need to register to participate? Will my family/friends need tickets to attend the ceremony?

    Yes, graduates must register to participate in the ceremony, and all guests must have a ticket to attend. (Exception: 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.)

    The Registration and Ticket Request Form for the May 2024 Commencement ceremony has closed. Students who registered by the deadline received an email on February 27 with their ticket status. Please email [email protected] if you have any questions about your registration or ticket status.


  • How will guests receive tickets?

    Graduates will receive their e-tickets via email and SMS a few days prior to the event, and are responsible for forwarding the ticket information to their guests.

  • Is there assigned seating for graduates?

    No, at Macalester, we allow graduates to select their own seats for the commencement ceremony.

    This seat selection happens at the rehearsal, which will be in the LC Fieldhouse on Thursday, May 9 from 10 a.m. to noon. 

  • Is there assigned or reserved seating for guests?

    No, with the exception of reserved seats for those who have requested accessible seating in advance.

  • What about accessibility needs for myself or my guests at Commencement?

    We will arrange for ASL interpreting and closed captioning during the ceremony.

    If you or your guest(s) require accessible/disability accommodation seating or guidance, please complete this FORM by April 26, 2024.

    Contact our Center for Disability Resources with any specific questions.

  • Where can I park?

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

    Use 130 Macalester Street, St. Paul, Minnesota for GPS directions to available parking.

    See our Interactive Campus Map for details.

  • How are the Commencement speakers selected?

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

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

  • How long is the ceremony?

    The length of our Commencement ceremony varies from year to year depending on the number of graduates, the length of speeches, and other factors. Please allow at least 2.5 to 3 hours for the ceremony.

    Macalester hosts a post Commencement Reception on Shaw Field following the event, and graduates who have rented robes will be required to return them before they leave campus, so please consider that when making travel plans or restaurant reservations.

  • What do the sashes, cords and medals represent?

    Graduates may receive honors from academic honors societies or other departments or organizations on campus. Here is a key to regalia that students may receive and be wearing at Commencement:

      • African Music Ensemble, Kente Stoles
      • Alpha Kappa Delta – Sociology Honors Society, Teal Honor Cords
      • Anthropology Major, Lilac Cords
      • Chanter Literary and Arts Magazine, Orange and Black Cords
      • Epsilon Kappa Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon – International Geography Honors Society, Gold, Dark Brown and Light Blue Honor Cords
      • Eta Sigma Phi – Classics Honor Society, Purple and Gold Honor Cords
      • Ethics Bowl/Mock Trial, Orange Cords
      • First Generation Graduates, Pale Blue Honor Cords
      • International Students, Home Country Flag Sashes
      • Iota Sigma Pi – Chemistry Honor Society, Green, White and Yellow Honor Cords
      • Lavender Graduation Participants, Rainbow Tassels
      • Lealtad-Suzuki Center for Social Justice, Stoles / Tribal Blankets
      • Macalester First Aid, Royal Blue and Silver Honor Cords
      • Macalester College Student Government, Royal and Light Blue Honor Cords
      • 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
      • Phi Lambda Upsilon – Chemistry Honor Society, Light Blue, and Pink 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, Blue and Silver Honor Cords
      • Resident Assistants, Green and Light Blue Honor Cords
      • Rites of Passage, Woven and Embroidered Stoles
      • 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



Please contact [email protected]