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Graduate School Commencement


Check List

Use the following check list to plan your participation in the commencement ceremony.

  • Confirm your invitation to participate in the ceremony
  • You must RSVP before 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 20.
  • Pick up guest tickets between Monday, April 20 and Friday, April 24 at the Convocation Center ticket office. Hours of operation that week are 9:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Graduates are limited to receiving 15 guest tickets. If you are unable to go to the Convocation Center that week, please see further instructions about tickets.
  • Pick up your cap and gown at the Convocation Center. Regalia will be available on Thursday, May 7 from 10:00 a.m.–5:00 pm and Friday, May 8 from 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Enter the Convocation Center at Entrance 2 near parking lot C2. Regalia may be picked up on the day of the ceremony starting at 5:00 p.m.
  • On May 8, arrive inside the Convocation Center by 5:30 p.m. Master’s, Educational Specialist and Performer’s Certificate candidates assemble in the Victor E. Court on the basement level. Doctoral degree candidates  assemble in the Media Room on the basement level.
  • Arrive in the Media Room or Victor E. Court with your cap, gown, and hood. Leave all other personal items with a guest, as graduates are not allowed to store or to retrieve items in the assembly areas.

Commencement FAQs

View detailed information about commencement

Guests and Guest Tickets

Is there a limit to the number of guests I may invite to the ceremonies?
Yes. Each graduation candidate may receive 15 guest tickets. All tickets are general admission seating.

How do I reserve guest tickets?
If you complete the online reply before 4:00 p.m. on April 20, you may pick up as many as 15 guest tickets.

Do I have to pick up tickets for my guests?
Yes. You can pick up your guest tickets at the Convocation Center Ticket Office (Entrance 2, near parking lot C2) on Monday, April 20 through Friday, April 24, 9:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m. You must present a photo ID. You may also have a friend pick up your guest tickets on these dates, provided they bring a copy of your ID and a signed note giving them permission to pick up your tickets; also make sure they know which degree you will receive (ex. Master of Arts or Master of Science).

What if am unable to pick up my guest tickets on those dates?
You can e-mail to request your tickets be held at the Convocation Center Ticket Office. In your e-mail, please indicate that you are participating in the ceremony for graduate students and include your name, degree (ex. MBA) and requested number of guest tickets (up to 15). E mails must be received by 4 p.m. on April 24. Ticket office hours after April 24 are M–F, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Reserved tickets can be picked up the day of the ceremony.

Caps, Gowns, Hoods, Tassels

Do I have to order my cap, gown, and hood in advance to get the right size?
No. You will be asked your height when you pick up your cap and gown. Caps are one-size-fits-all.

Do I have to pay for my cap and gown?
No. The graduation fee covers the rental cost for caps, gowns, and hoods.

How long will it take me to pick up my cap, gown, and hood?
It usually takes only 10 to 15 minutes.

Can a friend pick up my cap, gown, and hood, if I’m unable to do so?
Yes. Please make sure your friend knows your height and has a copy of your photo ID.

Do I get to keep my tassel?
Yes, but you will be required to turn in your cap, gown, and hood after the ceremony.

The Ceremony

Does attending commencement guarantee that I graduate?
No. All of your academic requirements must be complete and all necessary paperwork must be on file by the deadline date before you actually graduate.

Will my name be read at the commencement ceremony?
Yes. Your name will be read when you cross the stage to receive your diploma cover.

Will I get my diploma at commencement?
No. You will receive your diploma cover at the ceremony. Your diploma will be mailed to your permanent address in eight weeks after the ceremony.

How long will the ceremony last?
Typically, ceremonies last between 90 and 120 minutes.

Other FAQs

My family can’t attend the ceremony, but would like to watch. How can they do that?
The ceremonies will be streamed live on the internet. One week before commencement, details will be posted at

Have arrangements been made for persons with disabilities?
Yes. The Convocation Center is committed to making events accessible to all of our guests. We offer a number of services to aid our guests with special needs, including ushering, easy-access seating, and first aid. Screens with closed captioning are also utilized to allow our hearing-impaired guests to enjoy the ceremony. Read more details.

Additional Information

The university has arranged for professional photographs to be taken during the commencement ceremonies as each student receives a diploma cover. To assure that all graduates, their families, and friends may enjoy and view the ceremony, we ask that guests are considerate of one another when taking photographs.

In the event of severe weather, information about possible cancellation of commencement ceremonies will be available via the NIU website, the NIU Weather Hotline (815-753-6736), and local/regional TV and radio. You may also call NIU Campus Information (815-753-1000) or visit If cancellation is necessary, the commencement ceremony will not be rescheduled. For information about commencement, visit the Convocation Center website.

The Convocation Center does not allow helium balloons to be brought into the building.

Parking Map

Parking Map


Provost’s Invitation

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. I am pleased to invite you to attend the spring ceremony for all graduate degree recipients. The ceremony, which is planned for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 8, will be held in the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center.

The information below describes where and when you must arrive and provides other instructions that you must follow in order to participate in the ceremony.

I hope you will be able to join us on May 8. With my many NIU colleagues, I look forward to honoring you and your achievements as a student here at NIU.

Lisa Freeman, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost

PDF invitation
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and commencement