The University of Massachusetts Amherst

SBS Senior Celebration FAQs

The SBS Senior Celebration takes place on Saturday, May 11, 2019 in the Mullins Center. Processional begins promptly at 1:00pm. Line up for all graduates and faculty begins promptly at 12:00pm. Details about the day's event follow (and more will be added as plans develop). Check this page often. General information is available on the UMass Commencement website.

The SBS Dean's Office will send additional information to seniors over the course of the semester, and as more details become available, they will be posted on these pages. Students should check their student email account and are advised to update any changes of mailing address on SPIRE. If you have additional questions about the SBS Senior Celebration, please e-mail Saulo DePaula.

Who gets to walk?

To be eligible to participate in the May 2019 Commencement ceremony, students must have fulfilled all requirements by the time of the ceremony or be scheduled to do so by September 2019. Students scheduled for February 2020 graduation who wish to attend the May 2019 ceremony must file a “Petition to Participate in an Earlier Commencement” form, available at the Registrar’s Office in 213 Whitmore. We anticipate that about 1,110 students will graduate from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    I am a double major. One is in SBS and the other is in another college. Which senior celebration ceremony do I attend?

    If the ceremonies take place at different times you may attend both. If they take place at the same time, then you must choose one. Check the main Commencement website for a complete listing of times and locations for each senior celebration. 

    Are seniors required to attend a practice pre-ceremony?

    No. You will have faculty and staff marshals to help you understand where to go. Be alert and listen to instructions. You will gather in the tent behind the Mullins Center by major. Look for the sign indicating your major. Then go to the registration table for your major and fill out the card for the name reader (IMPORTANT to do this BEFORE entering Mullins). This card also asks for mailing information. Complete ALL of the information because the photographers will send you proofs of the pictures they take when you receive your medal. Once you fill this in, enter the building and look for the rows marked with your major. Hold on to your name card until it is your turn to cross the stage. You will hand it to the name reader just before you cross. 

      When does the SBS Senior Celebration begin?

      The SBS ceremony begins promptly at 1:00pm. in the Mullins Center, but seniors should plan to arrive at the Mullins Center and line up by major at 12:00pm. Families are asked to take their seats in the arena at this time. Bear in mind that the College of Natural Sciences will be conducting their senior ceremony prior to the SBS festivities. That ceremony is scheduled to wrap up by 11:00am, but please allow ample time for that group to exit the building before the SBS group begins its entry.

      How many guests will each student be allowed to bring? Do attendees need tickets?

      You may bring as many guests as you like. No tickets are required. Seating in the Mullins Center is unreserved.

        What should participants wear?

        Students and faculty should dress in commencement caps and gowns. Families should dress comfortably. Everyone should wear shoes that are appropriate for walking and climbing stairs. (There is an elevator available in the Mullins Center for those with mobility issues.) In the past, some graduates have worn Stiletto heels. This is NOT recommended as people have had difficulty maneuvering the various walkways and the stage area. PLEASE keep your safety in mind.

          Where do I get my cap and gown?

          Please go to the main Commencement website for details. Remember, you'll be wearing the cap and gown for both the Main Commencement ceremony on Friday evening and again at the SBS Senior Celebration on Saturday.

          Do graduates with special honors receive special sashes?

          If you have received special honors and have sashes or cords to represent them, by all means please wear them. However, because not all final GPAs have been tallied by Commencement Weekend, a full listing of honors recipients is not available, and therefore no special sashes will be available from the College.

            How should I plan for the weather?

            Fortunately, the Mullins Center is a comfortable arena with climate control. However, bear in mind that parking for SBS families is designated for Lots 33, 22 and 21, opposite the Southwest Residential area. While shuttles will be available to drop people at the Mullins Center (in the rear) beginning at 11:00am, we suggest umbrellas and/or appropriate rain apparel in the event of a rainy day—especially for those who choose to walk or if there is a waiting period outside the Mullins Center while attendees at the previous ceremony exit. And conversely, don't forget sunscreen and hats for protection from the sun.

              Is parking available?

              Yes. Campus administration has requested that SBS-affiliated people please park in Lots 33, 22 and 21, opposite the Southwest Residential Complex on University Drive. Shuttle buses will operate from the parking lot, departing from three stops in the parking areas to the Mullins Center, beginning at 11:00am. They will also be available after the Senior Celebration to transport you back to Parking Lots 33, 22, and 21. We suggest that you leave your car for the duration of the day's activities and navigate via shuttle bus or on foot. Allow plenty of time after parking (we recommend 40 minutes) to travel by bus or on foot to the Mullins Center. Patience is the operative word during Commencement weekend. The Southwest parking lots are also very convenient to the Berkshire Dining Commons that will be serving food all day on Saturday (7:00am to 9:00pm). Families of students with meal plans eat for free; for those without meal plans, reasonable prices are the order of the day.

                I have relatives who have never been to campus before? How do they get directions?

                To get driving directions to UMass, please click here.

                  Someone in our party is hearing impaired. What should we do?

                  Sign language or oral interpreters are available upon request. Call 413-545-0892 V/TTY or e-mail (with the subject line "Commencement Interpreter Request") no later than April 19, 2019. There will also be live closed captioning during the event.

                  Someone in our party has a physical disability. What should we do?

                  For the SBS Senior Celebration in the Mullins Center on Saturday, May 11:

                  Accessible/Handicap Parking

                  • The lot adjacent to the Mullins Center is designated for handicap parking. A state-issued handicapped parking permit suffices for parking in designated accessible spaces on campus.

                  Preferential Guest Seating

                  • These seats are generally for people who have difficulty with mobility, sight, or hearing. Seating for family members and guests with special needs will be available in sections of the Mullins Center. No prior arrangements need to be made to secure seating in these areas, although it is recommended that you arrive early to secure seating. One companion may accompany guests seated in these sections. Seating for additional family members should be available within close proximity of the preferential seating areas.


                  • There are designated wheelchair seating locations in the Mullins Center. Those guests needing wheelchairs should make arrangements to bring their own; wheelchairs are not provided.

                  Sign Language/Interpreter Services

                  • If you or any of your guests require the services of an interpreter, please contact the Office of Disability Services, 161 Whitmore Administration Building (Voice/TTY: 413-545-0892) or e-mail (with the subject line "Commencement Interpreter Request") aduchon@admin.umass.eduThe deadline for requesting interpreter services is April 19, 2019. There will also be live closed captioning during the event.
                  What do we do about lunch?

                  Having an event midday presents special food challenges, especially since we expect SBS seniors to be in the line-up area and families to begin taking their seats at 12:00pm. Due to the timing of the SBS Senior Celebration, please plan your nourishment accordingly. Some suggestions follow:

                  • We recommend that students eat a meal prior to line-up.

                  • Food will be available in the Berkshire dining commons in the Southwest Residential Complex, all day from 7:00am. to 9:00pm. (The Campus Center food establishments also will be in operation.) Families of students with meal plans may eat at no charge in the dining halls; for those without meal plans, reasonable prices are the order of the day. Bear in mind that Dining Services at UMass Amherst is well known nationally for its outstanding food.

                  • Amherst and the surrounding communities offer a wide array of restaurants.

                  • The concession stands in the Mullins Center will be in operation for guests to purchase simple foods (e.g., deli sandwiches, pizza, roll-ups) and beverages. Those who choose this option may take their food to their seats. Seniors, however, must be in their line-up area in the SBS Tent by 12:00pm. with no access to concessions. We recommend that you eat prior to arriving at the tent.

                  • The choice for meals is entirely yours, but please plan accordingly. Traffic will be heavy and parking on campus will be congested, so allow enough time. How much is "enough" time? The prevailing opinion is "more than you think you'll need."

                  When and where do graduating seniors meet for the SBS Senior Celebration? How do we line up?

                  At 12:00pm. on Saturday, May 11, 2019, students will gather in the SBS Tent, located behind the Mullins Center, dressed in their caps and gowns. Look for your Major's sign (if you are a double major, you must choose one only). Representatives from each program will make sure you have a name card filled out and then usher you into Mullins, where you will be pre-seated by major.

                  Look for your major's registration table, which will be near your designated section. You will fill out your name card, front and back. This is VERY IMPORTANT because the card will be handed to the person who will read your name before you cross the stage. Also, the information will be used by the photographers to send photo proofs of you receiving your commemorative medal. Be sure to fill the card out BEFORE you enter the Mullins Center. And remember, since you will be in the Mullins Center for a long stretch of time, be sure to make use of the restrooms BEFORE the ceremony begins.

                  I want to watch my son/daughter process. Where should I go?

                  You will be able to see your son or daughter from your seats when they enter the arena; be looking for the Major's banner that precedes the entrance of each group. The graduates will be seated in groups, according to their major program, for the duration of the ceremony, on both sides of the floor of the arena. You will also see your child on stage, shaking hands with various College officials after his/her name is called. In addition, two jumbo-trons will enable you to see your child "up close" when his/her name is called.

                  What is the protocol for the SBS Senior Celebration?

                  Our goal is to make the send-off for graduates personal, memorable and fun. In the interest of mutual respect and keeping the atmosphere congratulatory for all participants, all graduates will return to their seats after receiving their medals. We also request that all cell phones are turned off during the ceremony and that the guests remain in their seats. We understand the excitement that surrounds these ceremonies, but ask everyone to be considerate of the entire group. Pictures of each graduate will be available from the professional photographers hired for the event. They will be in touch with each graduate in a timely manner with proofs. Graduates: remember, since you will be in the Mullins Center for a long stretch of time, be sure to make use of the restrooms before the ceremony begins.

                  What happens when the ceremony is over?

                  Students and faculty will leave the arena as a group, after which graduates and their families can meet in a designated area. Many people find it helpful to arrange for a meeting place before the ceremony begins, to avoid confusion. Please bear in mind that another ceremony is scheduled to take place in the Mullins Center shortly after the SBS event, so it is very important that everyone exit the arena quickly.

                  I hear a professional photographer will take photos. How do I get those?

                  During the Senior Celebration Ceremony, graduates will be photographed in their regalia immediately prior to and when receiving their medal. Proofs of these photographs will be sent to graduates along with order forms and information. Be sure to fill out the contact information on the name card given to you in the registration area, as that is the only way the photographers will know how to reach you. To learn more, see

                  When are senior portraits taken on campus?

                  TBA. There is no sitting fee and no obligation to purchase. You will receive a free 5x7 coupon if you choose to participate, so come prepared to be photographed! See the main commencement page for details.

                  I am unable to attend the SBS Senior Celebration, but I'd like my commemorative medal. What should I do?

                  We're sorry that you can't make it to this very special event. To receive your medal, contact the University Events Office, 413-577-1101.

                  When do I receive my diploma?

                  The SBS Senior Celebration does not award diplomas, only the commemorative medals. Your diploma, which is officially conferred at the Friday evening Commencement, will be mailed to you. To ensure the delivery of diplomas, all graduates should check SPIRE to make certain that their mailing address is accurately recorded. Diplomas are usually mailed by the end of the summer. Questions regarding diplomas should be addressed to: Registrar’s Office, 213 Whitmore Administration Building, 413-545-0555.