Commencement FAQ's

Commencement FAQ Answers

What is the difference between the "Commencement Exercises" and the "Diploma Ceremony"?

The Commencement Excercises feature every school and college of which Emory University is comprised. President Clarie E. Sterk, Emory's twentieth president, presides over the event. The ceremony includes the Commencement speaker, conferral of Honorary Degrees and awards, and the conferral of degrees en masse. Degree candidates rise and are presented as a school by their academic dean and are represented on-stage by student marshals. This event also features the "tassel turning" moment that is common in graduations. Graduates do not receive their diplomas at this event.

Following the Commencement Exercises, students will attend their Diploma Ceremony. This event is presided over by Dr. James W. Curren, Dean of the Rollins School of Public Health, and features graduates' names being read aloud after which they cross the stage, shake the dean's hand, and receive their diploma. This event is focused entirely on the Rollins School of Public Health as opposed to all of Emory University.

Where and when are the ceremonies held?

The 173rd Commencement Exercises of Emory University will be held on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 9 a.m. on the Quadrangle.

The Rollins School of Public Health Diploma Ceremony will be held on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. on McDonough Field.

What are the requirements to participate in the ceremony?

In order for students to be granted a MPH or MSPH degree, you must apply for graduation in OPUS or submit a paper degree application by the degree application deadline February 5 (students must submit a Degree Application and complete ALL MPH/MSPH requirements in order to participate in the ceremony). If you plan to participate in the Diploma Ceremony, you MUST RSVP by filling out the RSVP form. You must indicate how many people will be in your party. Tickets are not required. RSVP is mandatory. If you do not RSVP you will not be allowed to participate in the RSPH Diploma Ceremony. Additionally, if you graduated in August 2016 or December 2016 you are welcome to participate in the ceremony by submitting your RSVP on the commencement website. The RSVP form will be available on the commencement website in February 2018. 

Also, you must purchase a cap, gown and salmon hood from the Barnes & Noble Bookstore @ Emory University by Monday, March 26.

When and where do I line-up for the diploma ceremony?


Graduates are to line up on the side of the Woodruff Physical Education Center (WPEC) at 12:45 p.m. with their cap and gown in hand. When you arrive, go to the sign that corresponds to your last name. During lineup, you will be given a card with your name on it to give to Catherine Strate, who will be the staff member charged with announcing each graduate's name at the ceremony. You will walk together to the ceremony on McDonough Field. Once it is time to announce names, you will approach the stage in alphabetical order and hand your card to Catherine. Finally, she will read your name and you will walk across the stage, smile, and shake Dean Curran's hand. **Please note that there will be no line up at RSPH. 


Line-up for the RSPH Diploma Ceremony  will take place in the back of McDonough Field at 1:00 p.m. Please look for Prudence Goss and she will direct you to the reserved faculty seating area where you will be until Commencement begins at 1:30 p.m. .

Who will be the keynote speaker at the Diploma Ceremony?

The 2018 keynote speaker will be announced in the Spring of 2018. The 2017 Keynote Speaker was John E. McGowan, Jr., MD, Professor of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, and Professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine.

How do I purchase graduation regalia?

Regalia (gown, cap, tassell, and hood) is only available for purchase from the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Emory University located at 1390 Oxford Road. There is no rental option. Students may wish to buy their regalia from Grad Fair 2018 which takes place late-February 2018, at the Barnes & Noble @ Emory University located at 1390 Oxford Road. Students may also wish to purchase their diploma frames at this event. Representatives are on-hand to assist with ordering class rings and custom graduation announcements.

Regalia must ordered by March 26 to ensure that it arrives in time for Commencement. Students who are off-campus during the spring semester can contact the Bookstore by phone at (404) 727-6222.

Detailed information on graduation regalia can be found on the Emory University Commencement website by clicking here.

How do I order graduation announcements?

The official Emory Commencement announcement is available only from Jostens through the Emory Bookstore. (1.800.854.7464 or It is Emory University Policy to only list the main-ceremony on the invitation and not the Rollins School of Public Health Diploma Ceremony. They also will not allow you to list your specific concentration.

A cheaper and quicker alternative is to go to an office supply store and buy an invitation kit and use their templates to create your own invitation. Another alternative is to visit a specialty paper store or go to There are many specialty paper stores and other on-line resources. There is no Rollins School of Public Health standard invite. 

What accomodations are there for family or friends with disabilities?

If accommodations (i.e. mobility, visual, auditory, parking)are needed owing to a disability or chronic medical condition, contact the Disability Services Office at 404-727-9877 voice or 404-712-2049 TDD.

For those attending the Commencement Exercises, please click here to gather more information on disability access and seating.

For those attending the Diploma Ceremony, please note that shuttles will be provided from the Michael Street Parking Deck to McDonough Field for all those that require additional assistance. Additionally, special seating will be available.

Will food and drinks be available?

Drinks (water, soda, juice) will be available at McDonough Field for RSPH Diploma Ceremony guests. 

Where do I park on Commencement morning?

While there are several parking structures located throughout campus, we strongly encourage parking at the Michael Street Parking Deck which is located directly behind the School. You can find driving directions to the Michael Street Parking Deck here: Directions and Maps. If the deck runs out of spaces, we suggest trying the parking deck behind the 1525 Clinic Building on Clifton Road (directly across the street from the Rollins School of Public Health on Clifton Road.)

Important Notes About Parking:

  1. Please be aware Emory does not have parking facilities for RVs, buses, or over-sized vehicles.
  2. The main-gate entrance to the Emory Campus (near North Decatur & Oxford roads) is reserved for passenger drop-off only (between the Administration Building and White Hall at the West Entrance of the Quadrangle). Please use Clifton Road for access to the majority of campus parking decks.
  3. As a courtesy to the businesses operating around Emory, and residents in the adjacent neighborhoods, please do not park in any of these areas:
  • SunTrust Bank lot on North Decautur Road
  • All Emory Village business parking lots (particularly the CVS lot)
  • All Emory Point on Clifton Rd (business or residential)
  • Neighborhood streets
  • Emory Clinic and Lowergate North parking decks (these decks are not free and are needed for patients visiting the medical facilities)
  • All parking regulations are strictly enforced. Your car may be booted or towed. On campus, please do not park in any spaces marked no-parking, 24 Hour Reserved, carpool, or Service Vehicles Only.

What is the rain plan for commencement?

 You can find more detailed information on the weather plan page by clicking here.

How will I receive my diploma if I don't take part in the Diploma Ceremony?

Following the Diploma Ceremony, all undistributed diplomas will be sent back to the Office of the Registrar. Please contact them to make arrangements for pick up or delivery.

Their contact information is as follows:

100 Boisfeuillet Jones Center 200 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
Phone: 404.727.6042