The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

85° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Commencement 101 – Everything you need to know to have a great graduation

UA News

It’s the 154th University of Arizona Commencement, but new graduates and their families might not know what to expect. Here’s your need-to-know guide to graduation day.


DATE: Friday, May 11

TIME: 7:30 p.m., gates open 5:30 p.m.

LOCATION: Arizona Stadium

LENGTH: approximately 90 minutes


Make sure you don’t have your purse or backpack. Like game-days, a clear bag policy is enforced. Clutches, one-gallon plastic bags and approved clear bags are allowed. Other bags, including camera bags, binocular cases and even fanny packs will not be permitted. 

The temperature is anticipated to be in the upper 90s, with the sun setting at 7:11 p.m. Make sure you bring water and plan for heat (water is provided for students).


Students need to arrive by 6:30 p.m. to be guaranteed a spot. Graduate students check-in in front of the north side of the Main Library at 6:00 p.m.

To enter the stadium, make sure you have your Cat Card, your ticket and are carrying your cap and gown. After passing through security, you can put your robe on. Cap and gowns are required to participate in the ceremony.  


Parking is free at all surface lots and garages. After 4 p.m., the closest garage on Cherry Avenue will be for disabled parking only. 

To get in, students need to RSVP for themselves and guests. Seating is based on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if you want to be in front, get there early. If you want more comfort, you are allowed to bring a bleacher chair as long as it doesn’t recline or have cup holders.

If you can’t make it, there will be a live stream on the Commencement website on May 11. 

There is stroller parking for families with children and baby seats are allowed inside. Besides service animals, pets are not allowed.

If you want to get your graduate flowers, you can bring your own or buy some from the UA and pick them up at Crowder Hall,  the Student Union or at Centennial Hall. Balloons and banners are not allowed in the stadium, but can be left at balloon parking outside of the stadium.

It’s suggested to choose a location to meet after the ceremony is finished, such as on the UA Mall. 

WiFi is available through the UAGuest WiFi. You will need to make an account through the web browser (if it doesn’t pop up automatically, open a browser manually) and follow instructions to create an account. 


Commencement follows eight centuries of traditions from Europe. The cap and gowns mirror the style of those worn at Oxford University, England, with different sleeves to differentiate between bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degrees.

Commencement is not to be confused with Convocation, which is the individual college ceremony and where names are read aloud. Names are not read at Commencement. 

Commencement begins with opening remarks and the national anthem. After greetings and student speeches, special awards are presented. 

The keynote speaker this year is Ray Mabus, the former secretary of the Navy, Governor of Mississippi and U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. 

After the keynote address, degrees are conferred.

To end the ceremony, the Alma Mater is sung and fireworks go off to mark the official end to the class of 2018’s college careers.

Note: If you are against being on camera, don’t attend. During Commencement, people are free to take audio and video recordings which could be used for promotional purposes.

To know which school someone is receiving a degree in, check their tassel color:

Agriculture & Life Sciences – Maize

Architecture – Blue-Violet

Business & Public Administration – Light Tan

Education – Light Blue

Engineering including Optical Sciences – Orange

Family & Consumer Sciences – Maroon

Fine Arts – Dark Brown

Health Professions and Medicine– Green

Humanities – White

Law – Purple

Letters, Arts & Science – Silver

Music – Pink

Nursing – Apricot

Pharmacy – Olive Green

Public Health – Salmon 

Sciences – Gold 

Social & Behavioral Sciences – White 

Masters – Black

Doctoral – Old Gold

For more info, visit To all graduates, congratulations! 

Follow Rocky Baier on Twitter

More to Discover
Activate Search