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Appropriate Attire & Decorum

Commencement Attire

All students are to dress as indicated by University standards. Students are asked to wear professional business or professional “Sunday dress” underneath their academic regalia. Females are required to wear dresses or pant suits. If your dress is longer than your robe, please make sure that your dress is a dark color. Males are required to wear shirts and ties or business suits.

All participants are REQUIRED to wear black shoes.  If you show up with shoes that are not black, you will not be allowed to march. Please make sure your shoes are comfortable because you will be walking from the Spaulding Gymnasium to the Red Hat Amphitheater and will be on your feet for a while.


Only Honor Cords and Academic Pins from Awards Days may be worn with your academic attire. Stoles available online through Herff Jones are allowable (Shaw U and Kente Cloth). Other allowable stoles include those representing honor societies (Alpha Chi, Beta Kappa Chi and Phi Alpha) and stoles representing Greek fraternities and sororities, may be worn.

Commencement Decorum/Etiquette

Please arrange to be on time for all graduation events. You are required to arrive at 7:30 a.m. dressed in full academic regalia; line up will be in the Spaulding Gymnasium. Students who arrive after the commencement procession has begun WILL NOT be allowed to march.

  • All graduates are expected to attend the entire ceremony, and to participate in both the processional and recessional.
  • Commencement is both a joyful occasion and a solemn event. Please express your excitement in ways that will not prevent others from hearing the speaker and enjoying the ceremony.
  • Alcohol and other illegal substances are not permitted in Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts during Commencement. Security will be present to confiscate alcohol/illegal substances and prohibit those from marching that may already be under the influence.
  • Mobile phones should be turned to silent mode to ensure that all guests can hear and enjoy the commencement activities.
  • Commencement begins with the academic procession. The audience is asked to rise as the procession enters and remain standing until the platform party has taken its place, the Invocation has been given and the Hymn has been sung.
  • Commencement closes with the recessional. After the singing of the Alma Mater and the benediction, the audience is asked to take their seats and remain seated for the retrieval of colors and the recessional of the platform party, faculty, and students.