General Information for Commencement

Please click on an option below to learn more about that particular topic.

  • Academic Regalia

    Befitting this formal occasion, all graduates must wear the College-approved academic regalia in order to participate in Commencement exercises. This regalia includes a black cap and gown complemented by a maroon and white hood. For the commencement ceremony, students may wear cords or stoles that indicate their participation in a Washington College-recognized organization or activity, in addition to approved honor society pins or philanthropy cords. Only these cords or stoles may be worn; no other decorations or accessories, including decorations to graduation caps, are permitted. If you are unsure whether an item is approved, please contact the Registrar’s Office at

    Herff-Jones representatives will be on-campus during Fall Family Weekend and again during Birthday Ball Weekend to offer a Graduation Fair for seniors and their families. They will assist with your Commencement orders including regalia. There is no direct cost for the regalia, as this expense is covered by the graduation fee that all students must pay in order to graduate from Washington College. For those who cannot attend one of the two Graduation Fairs, orders will be accepted online through March 1, 2017.

    In keeping with the George Goes Green initiative, the regalia worn by students will be made from 100% recycled products. Additionally, the regalia is no longer a rental product – all pieces may be kept by the students for posterity!

  • Accommodations

    Commencement accommodations and events can be managed more efficiently if your reservations and payments are made in advance.


    A list of area accommodations can be found on our Local Accommodations website. Some area hotels may have a “Commencement” rate. Please call them directly to inquire and make the necessary arrangements. You may also check the Chestertown Lodging page for other accommodation options.


    A limited number of College residence hall rooms will be available for families and guests the night of May 20 through Conference Services. Registration will be available starting April 1st at

    For more information, call: (800)422-1782 ext. 7253 / or (410)778-7253.

    Please note: All graduates must be moved out of their residence halls by 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. 

  • Alternate Viewing

    For guest comfort, indoor video-viewing locations will be available in several campus locations.  Ushers will help you find these locations.


    In the event that Commencement is held indoors, two additional viewing areas will be available

    • Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts (1st floor)
    • Norman James Theatre, William Smith Hall (1st floor)
    Rain Location venues will not open until 9:00 a.m.
    Guests that attempt to reserve seating for their families in rain locations will be limited to a total of four seats per family. There will be no reservations after 10:15 a.m. 

    In the event of fair weather, air-conditioned alternate viewing with live video streaming will be available in the following location:

    • Norman James Theatre, William Smith Hall (1st floor)
    On the Web

    This event will be offered to virtual guests via the web as a live video stream beginning at 10:25 a.m. on Saturday, May 20. A link to the live video stream will be posted on the College home page.

  • Animal Policy

    Only service animals are permitted at the Commencement site.

  • Announcements

    Custom graduation announcements may be ordered through our vendor Herff-Jones by logging onto their website or by calling (800)447-4723. The Washington College Bookstore does not provide this service.

    Herff-Jones representatives will be on-campus during Fall Family Weekend and again during Birthday Ball Weekend to offer a Graduation Fair for seniors and their families. They will assist with your Commencement orders including personalized announcements, custom large-format diploma frames, class rings and other items available for purchase. All students planning to walk at Commencement must also order their regalia (cap, gown, hood and tassel) at one of these two events (see the “Academic Regalia” section above). For those who cannot attend one of the two Graduation Fairs, orders will be accepted online through March 1, 2017.

    Herff-Jones will also be on-campus on Friday, May 19 to assist with orders.

  • Cap and Gown

    Please see the “Academic Regalia” section above.

  • Ceremony Courtesy

    The faculty and administration of Washington College wishes to create a courteous and respectful environment in which to celebrate our newest alumni. We ask that all Commencement attendees refrain from disrupting the weekend’s formal ceremonies through the use of noisemakers (such as air horns, cowbells and bullhorns), shouting or chanting, or high-volume mobile phone ringtones and conversations. Beach balls and other objects of distraction are prohibited. Additionally, College policies which restrict the use of tobacco and alcohol remain in force before, during and after the Commencement ceremonies. In particular, current students found to have provided alcoholic substances to their graduating classmates during the procession or conferral of degrees may be subject to judicial action.

  • Dining

    Meals may be purchased on-site for all events. Several weekend events will serve light refreshments. Please visit the Campus Services section of this site for Java George and Dining Hall hours during Commencement Weekend. You may also wish to visit the Town of Chestertown’s Restaurants page for a listing of local restaurants.

  • Gift Ideas
    Parents, Family & Friends

    We invite the families of the Class of 2017 to honor their graduates and to show appreciation for a special member of the Washington College community by making a gift to the Washington Fund in honor of their graduate. Visit the Washington Fund page to find out more.

    Display & wear your Washington College pride! From diploma frames to sweatshirts, find graduation gift ideas at the Washington College Bookstore.


    Have you contributed to the Senior Class Gift? Your donation to the Washington Fund can help the Class of 2017 leave a mark on Washington College that no class before you has left! Washington College community by making a gift to the Washington Fund in honor of their graduate. Visit the Washington Fund page to find out more.


    Washington College’s Habitat for Humanity will sell flowers inside of the Hodson Hall Commons prior to the ceremony. To reserve flowers, which can be paid for that day, please fill out this form

  • Graduating

    Graduating students (including Master’s students) who are unable to attend Commencement must request to graduate in absentia. This request must be provided to the Registrar in writing no later than Monday, April 10. An email to the Registrar’s Office will suffice. Students should briefly explain the circumstances leading to their request and should also confirm their mailing address. The Registrar’s Office will mail diplomas to in absentia graduates within one week after the Commencement ceremony, provided the student does not have any outstanding balances owed to the College.

  • Graduation Fair

    Herff-Jones, our graduation vendor, provides numerous high quality products to students and their families before and during the Commencement Weekend. Attending one of the two on-campus Graduation Fairs (during Fall Family Weekend and Birthday Ball Weekend) provides students an opportunity to have one-stop shopping built around quality service and convenience. Graduation is an exciting time and our Grad Fair makes sure students spend less time shopping and more time getting the most out of their graduation experience. Along with representatives from the Alumni Association, Career Placement, the Registrar’s Office, etc., experienced Herff-Jones sales representatives are available to answer graduation questions and provide personal one-on-one service that’s impossible to get any other way. Custom product samples are always on display for customers so that they know exactly what they are buying to enhance their graduation experience.

    The Grad Fair is for the entire family. If students think they will have trouble deciding which graduation package better fits their needs, they’re encouraged to bring along a friend, parent or a sibling to act as a sounding board to make sure they get exactly what they need.

    For more information on ordering regalia or other graduation-related items after the Grad Fair, please visit the “Academic Regalia” or “Announcements” sections above.

  • Graduation Requirements

    Juniors and seniors approaching graduation will find a host of information related to the College’s graduation policies and requirements on the Graduation Requirements page. The Graduation Checklist is another useful tool for keeping track of student responsibilities leading up to Commencement Weekend.

  • Other Important Information

    See the Commencement Tips section of this website for suggestions to make the most of your Commencement experience.

    Please check for the local weather forecast.

  • Parking

    Parking is available throughout campus. However, please be aware that parking near the Commencement site and on the nearby streets is limited. Cars parked illegally or otherwise blocking College or town streets are subject to towing at the owner’s expense. Courtesy carts will be running on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. and immediately following the ceremony to transport guests to and from their vehicles.

    Special-Needs Parking: Handicap parking is limited on Campus. Even if your car has a handicapped sticker, you will be directed to drop-off guests with disabilities behind William Smith Hall and park in the nearest ADA parking area. Courtesy carts will be available to assist family members from parking areas to event venues. Designated areas near the Commencement ceremony venue will be restricted for special needs parking and easy drop-off of special-needs guests near the seating area. Once parked, notify a courtesy cart attendant for assistance in moving from your car to the Campus Lawn.

    Interactive Campus Map

  • Photography

    The College has a contract with Grad Images to take photographs during the Commencement ceremony. Following Commencement, you will be contacted independently by the photo company with proofs to order. For more information, please visit their website: Grad Images. Due to the carefully orchestrated nature of the conferral procession, it is not possible for each family to approach the platform to take a picture of their graduate as they receive their diploma.

  • Programs

    Ushers will distribute programs, one per person, starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Digital versions are expected to be available after noon on Friday, May 19, 2017. The program will be posted online in a downloadable PDF format for mobile devices. You can download the program from this page or access it during the ceremony on a smart phone or a mobile web browser. We encourage you to consider the environment and Washington College’s commitment to sustainability by utilizing the digital version of the program during the ceremony.

  • Reserved Seating and ADA Access

    There is no reserved seating at Commencement. If you expect to need assistance, please plan to arrive early to secure adequate seating. Seating at Commencement is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    There will be a sign-language interpreter at the Commencement ceremony.  If you need direct sightline seating, please contact the Campus Events Office at (410)778-7888 by Friday, May 12.

    Special-Needs Seating: Special seating areas will be set aside to accommodate your special-needs or hearing-impaired guest and a companion. Seating in these areas is general and unreserved. Wheelchair spaces with companion seating are dispersed throughout the Commencement site’s general seating area. Washington College does not provide wheelchairs. Ushers will help guide individuals to the designated area, and they will be available to assist attendees in any emergency. During Commencement, accessible restrooms are available in campus buildings.

    No tickets are required if the Commencement is held outside. There is no limit to the number of guests you may bring. If poor weather conditions prevail and Commencement exercises are moved indoors, each guest must produce a ticket to gain entry into the Johnson Fitness Center. See the “Tickets” section below for more information.

  • Restrooms

    During Commencement exercises, guests may find restrooms in the surrounding campus buildings, including:

    • William Smith Hall
    • Miller Library
    • Hodson Hall Commons
    • Casey Academic Center
    • Daly Hall

    Interactive campus map

  • Tickets

    No tickets are required if the Commencement is held outside. There is no limit to the number of guests you may bring. In the event of inclement weather, Commencement will be held in the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center. To prepare for this eventuality, the Registrar’s Office will distribute tickets to graduates at the mandatory rehearsal on Friday, May 19, at 2:00 p.m. Each graduate will be issued six tickets. It is each student’s responsibility to distribute these tickets to their friends and family in a timely manner, as admission to the Fitness Center will be limited only to those with a ticket. We encourage students who anticipate needing more than six tickets to speak with their fellow graduates well in advance of the rehearsal to secure extra tickets that others may not need.

    Indoor viewing locations with live-streaming video will be available in several campus locations. See the “Alternate Viewing” section above for more information.

  • Video

    DVDs of Commencement may be ordered through Grad Images. For more information, please visit their website.

    For info on live streaming video via the web, please see the “Alternate Viewing” section above.

  • Weather and Rain Site Information

    We all hope Commencement will be an outdoor ceremony. It will only be held indoors, in the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center, in the event of inclement weather. Please view the “Tickets” section above for more information on how to obtain a ticket if the Commencement exercises are moved indoors.

    Guests are advised to check the Washington College website after 7:00 a.m. on the morning of Commencement for the location of the ceremony.

    The Washington College Switchboard, (410)778-2800, will be in operation most of the weekend. The automated answering system will be in effect at all other times; please select from the menu for weather-related concerns, including the decision to move Commencement into the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center.

  • Yearbook (Pegasus)

    The College yearbook, Pegasus, will only be available electronically. The yearbook should be completed by Commencement; you may check for updates at anytime on their website.