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Commencement FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that these answers pertain primarily to the May ceremony.

For questions about the December ceremony, please email [email protected]


Who do I contact with questions? Please contact [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. 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. The graduate checklist page will be updated with more information in the spring semester.

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Will the ceremony be available online?

Yes, we will live stream the May Commencement ceremony, and the link will be posted on our Commencement webpage prior to the event.

How many guests may I invite to Commencement?

Information about ticketing for the May Commencement ceremony will be shared early in the Spring 2024 semester.

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

Yes, Commencement is a ticketed event. Graduates will receive emailed information about the ticketing process, shortly after the start of the spring semester.

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?

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

How do I order a cap and gown?

Information about regalia for the May Commencement ceremony will be shared early in the Spring 2024 semester.

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 accessible/disability accommodation seating or guidance, there will be an option to share that information during the ticketing process. Please 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.

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 connection to Macalester.

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
    • Lavender Graduation Participants, Rainbow Tassels
    • Lealtad-Suzuki Center for Social Justice, Stoles
    • Macalester College Student Government, Royal and Light Blue Honor Cords
    • Macalester First Aid,
    • 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, 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
    • Tribal Blankets
    • Tri Beta-Biology Honors Society, Red and Green Honor Cords


    Will there be other events for Seniors and their families?

    Yes! Events and celebrations are held throughout the week to honor graduates. Details about Senior Week activities will be shared as they become available, during the Spring 2024 semester.


    What steps will Macalester take to keep everyone safe?

    In alignment with Macalester’s community of care, for all large events on campus, we’ll follow the guidelines and processes in place at that time. The most accurate and up-to-date information can be found on the Covid 19 Response webpage. Regardless of vaccination status, anyone ill or experiencing symptoms should not attend Commencement.

    Who do I contact with questions about Commencement? Please contact [email protected].