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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Frequently Asked Questions


Who gets to walk?
A student’s year of graduation is established by the Registrar’s Office. To be eligible to participate in the May 2012 Commencement ceremony, students must have fulfilled all requirements by the time of the ceremony or be scheduled to do so by September 2012. Students scheduled for February 2013 graduation who wish to attend the May 2012 ceremony must file a “Petition to Participate in an Earlier Commencement” form, available at the Registrar’s Office (209 Whitmore).

When does the HFA ceremony begin?
At 12 pm, CHFA students will assemble in the Recreation Center with their departments, wearing their caps and gowns. The HFA Senior Recognition Ceremony begins at 1:00 pm.

How many guests will each student be allowed to bring?
You may bring as many guests as you like. No tickets are required, but seating is first-come, first-served, so if you have a large group, plan to arrive early. Seating in the Recreation Center is unreserved.

What should participants wear?
Students should dress in commencement caps and gowns. Families should dress comfortably, wearing shoes appropriate for walking on irregular surfaces and climbing stairs. The area immediately outside the stadium has a gravel surface.

How should I plan for the weather?
The ceremony will take place, rain or shine. The Recreation Center is indoors, but the stadium is not covered, so guests should dress for the climate and bring umbrellas or other protection from sun or rain. Restrooms, public telephones, and first aid will be available.

Will there be refreshments?
On Friday, there will be refreshments after the main commencement ceremony, at 5:30 pm, served on the north end of the stadium (Lot 11) outside the fence. On Saturday, for the HFA Ceremony, food vendors will be available outside the Recreation Center.

Is parking available?
Traffic on and around campus will be extremely heavy throughout Commencement Weekend, so guests are strongly advised to arrive on campus on Friday by 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. Shuttle buses will operate between all designated parking lots and the stadium on Friday, beginning at 2:00 p.m. Allow at least 45 minutes after parking to travel by bus to the stadium. Parking will also be available on Saturday - visitors will be directed to available lots when they arrive (handicapped parking for the Rec Center is available in Lot 39).

I have relatives who have never been to the campus before. How do they get directions?
To get driving directions to UMass, please visit this site.

Someone in our party is hearing impaired. What should we do?
Sign-language or oral interpreters are available but must be requested no later than April 15 by calling 413-545-0892 (V/TTY) or e-mailing (with the subject line "Commencement Interpreter Request")

Someone in our party is handicapped. What should we do?
Please visit this site for essential information.

I want to watch my son/daughter process. Where should I go?
For the HFA Ceremony, you will be able to see your son/daughter from your seats when they enter the Recreation Center. They will then be seated in groups, according to their major. You will also see your graduate shaking hands with various College officials after his/her name is called, and seated with fellow majors for the duration of the ceremony.

What happens after the celebration is over?
Students and faculty will leave the Recreation Center as a group, after which graduates and their families can meet outside. Many people find it helpful to arrange for a meeting place before the ceremony begins, to avoid confusion.

Be sure to visit for information of the main event in the morning as well as information about lodging, dining, driving to campus and more.


Back to Main Commencement page