Commencement: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Graduation and Commencement?
“Graduation” means actually finishing and completely fulfilling your degree requirements resulting in a diploma, it is the technical obtainment of credits to receive a degree.
“Commencement” is the symbolic ceremony marking the closing of your academic career where you receive commendation for your hard work at PLU. It is an opportunity for you, your family, friends, and the PLU community to celebrate your PLU experience.
How do I apply to graduate?
Please visit Applying for Graduation for the proper applications and requirements.
How do I change / edit my graduation application?
Please e-mail Graduation to change/edit your application. In your e-mail, make sure to include your name and ID#.
When are the deadlines to apply for graduation?
Degree Date Application Deadline
December 2021 October 1, 2021
January 2022 December 1, 2021
May 2022 March 1, 2022
August 2022 June 1, 2022
I have two degrees. Can I walk with both? Can I walk across the stage twice?
Unfortunately, you cannot walk with both degrees. You will need to choose which degree you want to walk with at the ceremony. The Registrar’s Office will contact you to determine which degree you want to walk with. You will walk across the stage when the degree you choose is called.
What do I wear to the Commencement Ceremony?
PLU follows the Academic Costume Code as outlined by the American Council on Education (ACE). All Graduation candidates at Commencement are to wear regalia including: black caps with black tassels, black gowns and black hoods lined with gold to represent PLU and trimmed with the color indicative of the degree the student is earning. Honorifics awarded by PLU (Wang Center pins, honors cords, etc.) may be worn. Per ACE’s guidelines, candidates may not decorate their tassels, gowns or hoods; floral accents (corsages, boutonnieres, leis, etc) should be worn after the commencement ceremony.
Can I decorate my cap (mortar board)?
Yes, you may, however all decorations must lie flat and should not extend off the top of the mortar board. Please note that all modifications to the mortar board must not obstruct the view of others.
When and where do I get my cap and gown?
Each student is responsible for ordering and purchasing the required regalia (cap, gown, hood and tassel). Students are notified via their PLU e-mail when online ordering opens, typically in April. Herff Jones will mail regalia orders directly to the graduate.
Does everyone get a hood?
No, only graduate and doctoral students will be hooded. Master’s degree are three and one-half feet, and the Doctoral degree is four feet. Hoods are black and lined with gold to represent PLU and trimmed with the color indicative of the degree the student is earning. Students must purchase a hood with their regalia and bring the hood with them to the ceremony.
Where do I get my honor cord?
Students who earn institutional honors (cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude) receive the tri-color PLU Graduation Honors cord. The University provides the cord, no ordering is required. For cords, pins and other honorifics distributed by individual PLU departments contact the department for details.
Can I wear my ROTC dress uniform instead of the cap and gown?
No, all students must wear the academic regalia for the degree they are earning.
Do I need tickets?
Tickets are not required. PLU encourages friends and family of graduation candidates to attend the Commencement Ceremony.
How long is the Commencement Ceremony?
The length is dependent upon the number of students participating. In the past the event has lasted 2.5 – 3.5 hours. The event begins at 2:30 PM.
When is the rehearsal?
PLU does not host a rehearsal for Commencement.
Am I allowed to leave the ceremony early?
Students may not leave the ceremony until the conclusion of the event.
What is the best way to get to the Tacoma Dome?
Visit Driving Directions for directions to Tacoma Dome. Please be aware that traffic can get very congested around the Tacoma Dome. Allow for extra time to arrive. Having an alternate travel route, such as using surface streets instead of I-5, may help reduce the possibility of traffic delays.
Parking at the Tacoma Dome is free. Parking is available in lots A, D, F and G. Lots E and K are open for disabled visitors. Parking staff will do their best to get you parked as quickly as possible.
Off-site parking around the Tacoma Dome, including the Pierce Transit parking garages three blocks away are also available for the public. Consider parking on campus and taking Sound Transit.
I am participating in the ceremony, what time do I need to be at the Tacoma Dome?
All students must arrive by 1:30 PM.
I am a parent, what time do I need to be at the Tacoma Dome?
Doors to the Tacoma Dome will open at 1:30 PM. Seating is on a first come first serve basis, please do not save seats.
What is the parking status?
Tacoma Dome has four parking lots available to park. Parking is also available at the LeMay Car Museum. It is suggested that guests with limited mobility be dropped off at the Tacoma Dome Main Entrance prior to parking.
My student needs assistance getting up stairs. How does PLU accommodate a disability during the ceremony?
Please contact Disability Support Services at 253-535-7206 to make the necessary arrangements.
I am graduating, what should I do with my personal belongings during the ceremony?
There is no space available for items to be stored. Please leave all items (keys, purses, cameras, flowers, extra clothing, etc.) you do not want to carry with you during the ceremony with your guests. We do not recommend leaving items of value in your vehicle, however if you have to leave any item in your vehicle, it is best to store it in the trunk out of view.
Am I able to sit next to my student?
All guests will take their seat in the bleachers; students will be seated on the arena floor.
How will I know where my student is when they enter and sit?
Two large screens will be showing the students entering the arena and you will be able to see them.
Where is my student going to be seated?
Students are placed in alphabetical order by degree.
I have lost an item, what do I do?
A table has been set-up in the area near the concessions stands. There they can assist you with your lost item.
I have a family member who is not able to come to commencement. How can they watch it?
PLU provides a live stream of Commencement Events. Visit LuteCast to watch the live stream or to view an event at a later date.
A guest in our group that cannot walk long distances or needs wheelchair access. What are the accommodations?
Accessible-seating and other reasonable accommodations are available for individuals with disabilities at PLU and the Tacoma Dome.
Tacoma Dome lots E and K are reserved for guests with disabilities and are van accessible. All lots are wheelchair accessible. It is suggested that guests with limited mobility are dropped off at the Tacoma Dome Main Entrance or Exhibition Hall prior to parking. Volunteers are available to direct guests to open wheelchair seating. One companion is permitted to sit with the guest in the accessible area.
Can we sit with our friends and family who are in the special seating sections?
No. Due to limited space only the person needing to use the section and one other guest may occupy the area.
I see a person taking pictures during the ceremony. How do I get them?
Please visit Grad Images for ceremony photography information.
I want to purchase a diploma frame for my student, where do I get one?
You may visit the Lute Locker (located within the lower level of the Anderson University Center) during normal business hours, online or at their table during Commencement in the Tacoma Dome.
Can we bring outside food and beverages?
Outside food and beverage is strictly prohibited at the Tacoma Dome. Representatives will be conducting a bag search prior to entrance into the Dome. For more a list of restricted items visit Tacoma Dome FAQs.
Is there a place to get food and drinks during the Ceremony?
Concessions will be open during the ceremony and will close prior to the end.
Where can I park my stroller?
There will be an area that you may place the strollers. Please note that it is not a secured area.