Where, when, and how to celebrate the 318th Yale Commencement

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Yale will celebrate its 317th Commencement with four days of events and activities, Friday-Monday, May 17-20.

The festivities kick off Friday evening with a performance by the graduating seniors of the Yale Symphony Orchestra of a variety of concerti and orchestral works in Battell Chapel. A series of traditional rites and ceremonies will follow over the course of the next three days, including a Baccalaureate Address by President Peter Salovey, a Class Day address by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ’08 M.A., a university-wide Commencement ceremony on Old Campus, diploma ceremonies in each of the residential colleges and graduate and professional schools, and a commissioning ceremony for students who have completed their ROTC training.

For the second year, guests on Old Campus can enjoy live commentary during the procession onto Old Campus by Penelope Laurans, former head of Jonathan Edwards College and senior adviser at the university, and Garth Ross, inaugural executive director of the Schwarzman Center and former vice president of community engagement at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Live streaming and social media

Whether you’re on campus or unable to attend in person, you can enjoy festivities online. In addition, you can follow events on social media and share your own images and tweets. Here’s how:

Baccalaureate service

Graduating seniors and up to four guests are invited to attend the Yale College Baccalaureate, featuring remarks by President Salovey and Yale College Dean Marvin Chun. The event takes place in Woolsey Hall, 500 College St.

Students and their guests are assigned to one of three services depending on residential college affiliation (click the links to view each ceremony in real time):

Class Day exercises

Senior Class Day, which will be held Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. on Old Campus, is a longstanding undergraduate tradition that includes the awarding of academic, artistic, and athletic prizes; the celebration of undergraduates; and an address by a keynote speaker. This year’s Class Day speaker is the acclaimed author and novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ’08 M.A.

In lieu of traditional mortarboards, seniors are encouraged to wear the headgear of their choice with their academic gowns.

Students posing in silly hats on Class Day
(Photo credit: Michael Marsland)

Watch Class Day exercises in real time here.

University Commencement

All Yale degrees are formally conferred during the Commencement ceremony on Old Campus, which will take place on Monday, May 20 at 10:30 a.m. During the ceremony, the deans of Yale College and the graduate and professional schools formally present their approved candidates to the president. The president, in turn, confers the degrees and admits new graduates to each degree’s “rights and responsibilities.” Student marshals from each residential college and school accept symbolic diplomas from the president on behalf of their colleagues. Smaller degree-granting ceremonies are then held at all the schools and residential colleges.

Watch the Commencement ceremony in real time here.

Yale Air Force and Naval ROTC joint military commissioning ceremony

The Joint Military Commissioning Ceremony honoring the graduates of Air Force and Naval ROTC will take place on Monday, May 20 at 4:30 p.m. in Battell Chapel, 400 College St. The featured speaker will be Lt. Gen. James Slife, vice commander, Headquarters, U.S. Special Operations Command, Washington, D.C. Slife’s son, John, is one of the graduating ROTC seniors this year. A reception will follow at The Graduate Club, 155 Elm Street, New Haven, CT. RSVP to [email protected]

Other weekend activities

Commencement weekend will also include receptions, performances, and other special events. For a complete list of activities and for tips and information, visit Yale’s Commencement website. You can also download the Yale 2019 app, which features information about what’s happening and how to get there.