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Graduate Commencement

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 10 a.m.
Procession begins promptly at 9:50 a.m.

Retriever Activities Center (RAC)
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250

Frequently Asked Questions

The Day of the Ceremony

Academic Regalia for Graduate Students
Alumni Association
Application for Graduation
Bookstore Graduation Center
Campus Map
Change of Address
Class Rings
Hotel Accommodations
Line-up Instructions for Students
Special Accommodations
For More Information
Faculty, Staff and Administration


How long does the ceremony last?

Do I need to wear a cap and gown?

Is there a graduation rehearsal?

Where should my guests park?

Is special seating available for a guest in a wheelchair or with other special needs?

When do I receive my diploma?

How do I join the Alumni Association?

Is there information for faculty and staff participating in the ceremony?


The Commencement ceremony lasts approximately 90 minutes. Out of courtesy and respect for your fellow graduates, do not leave early. Graduates are expected to remain for the entire program. Smoking is not permitted inside the Retriever Activities Center.

There is no Commencement rehearsal. Instructions for line-up, procession and the awarding of degrees should be followed carefully. It is recommended that you leave all valuables at home, or with a friend or family member. There will be no secured room for personal belongings.

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Students receiving master’s and Ph.D. degrees should come to the lower level (basement) of Sondheim Hall by 9:15 a.m. Report to the graduate student assembly area to check in and receive your name card. If you have been certified for graduation, the name card is pre-printed with your name (and your mentor’s name for Ph.D. candidates).

The procession will begin promptly at 9:50 a.m., at which time the candidates and Ph.D. mentors will lead the platform party and faculty and staff processions into the arena. The order of procession is: Ph.D. candidates with mentors, then master’s degree candidates. Ph.D. candidates and their mentors will be grouped by graduate program. The Ph.D. candidates will march in with their mentors and be seated with them. Master’s degree candidates will be lined up alphabetically within each degree category and program discipline.

When it is time to receive the degrees, a commencement staff volunteer will escort each row of candidates and the mentors of the Ph.D. graduates to the ramp that will be used to walk onto the stage. Be sure to bring your name card with you because you will hand it to the reader before you walk across the stage. (Please do not bring flags, signs or other visible distractions on the stage. These items will be confiscated.)

Ph.D. candidates and their mentors will walk center stage where Provost Hirshman will be standing. To be hooded, the Ph.D. candidates will continue along the lower platform and the mentors will stand opposite of Provost Hirshman. After receiving their hoods and degrees, the Ph.D. candidates and their mentors should walk towards President Hrabowski and other guests on the stage to receive a congratulatory handshake.

Master's degree candidates will hand their name card to the commencement volunteer, walk to the center of the stage where President Hrabowski, Provost Hirshman and Interim Vice Provost for Graduate Education Rutledge will be standing with other guests to congratulate them with a handshake. After receiving their acknowledgement, all candidates should proceed down the center stairs and return to their seats on the arena floor.

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Academic RegaliA FOR STUDENTS

Everyone who participates in the Commencement ceremony MUST wear the academic regalia of the appropriate color and style that must be obtained from the Bookstore Graduation Center. The dates for ordering regalia at the Bookstore Graduation Center are Monday, March 2 and Tuesday, March 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday, March 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regalia can also be ordered online through Friday, March 13. (The Web site will not operate after this date.) Beginning March 14, candidates who order regalia will be assessed a $20 late fee. All forms of payment usually accepted in the Bookstore are allowed.

Regalia must be picked up at the Graduation Center from Monday, May 4 through Wednesday, May 6. In addition, a professional photographer from Graduation Images will be available for formal portraits of candidates in their regalia. There is no purchase obligation. The Center also carries graduation announcements, diploma frames and other accessories. Please visit the UMBC Bookstore Web site at

You must return caps and gowns to the Bookstore immediately following Commencement. If regalia is not returned immediately following the ceremony, the graduate will be charged the full cost of the regalia.

Tassels are worn on the left side of the mortarboard. The cap should be worn so that the mortarboard is level. It should not be tilted to the back or side of the head. The crown should be approximately one inch above the eyebrows. The front of the cap is indicated on the inside of the crown. Men remove their caps during the playing of the National Anthem.

Students earning master's degrees wear hoods marked with bands of color indicating the degree earned. Master's degree candidates wear their caps, gowns and hoods in the procession.

Master of Arts (M.A.) = white velvet band
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) = brown velvet band
Master of Science (M.S.) = gold velvet band
Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) = dark blue velvet band

The doctoral degree awarded by the Graduate School is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, signified by a dark blue velvet band on the hood. Ph.D. candidates wear their caps and gowns in the procession and carry their hoods on the left arm, with the velvet band at the wrist.

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As a graduate of UMBC, you are automatically a member of the Alumni Association. There are no dues or fees. We hope you will stay connected with your alumni friends, classmates and University associates through the many events, programs and services offered, especially through C-YA, our Chapter of Young Alumni. Stay informed of alumni activities and news by reading our monthly e-mail newsletter or by visiting Retriever Net, our alumni online community, at Once online you may update your mailing address and check all the special alumni advantages you’re eligible for – from great rates on consumer services to short-term health care coverage. You can also sign up for e-mail forwarding with a special UMBC alumni e-mail address!

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The deadline for graduate students to apply for May 2009 graduation has passed (it was February 9).  The deadline for August 2009 graduation is June 9, 2009.  Applications can be obtained from the Graduate School’s Web site at

There is a $110 application fee for master’s candidates, $150 for Ph.D. graduates and an additional $5 renewal fee to update the application.  For more information, contact Linda Thomas at 410-455-2440 or Kathy Miller at 410-455-3269.

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In addition to ordering academic regalia through the Bookstore, you may purchase standard (non-personalized) graduation announcements and order diploma frames, featuring a mat border with the University seal. The Bookstore is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday until 4 p.m. The Bookstore's telephone number is 410-455-3807.

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A campus map and directions to UMBC are available online.

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Graduate students should contact the Graduate School if your mailing address after May 20 will be different from the one listed on your application for graduation.  Master’s students should contact Linda Thomas at 410-455-2440 or  Doctoral students should contact Kathy Miller at 410-455-3269 or

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Order from the Herff Jones Company or Balfour. Sales representatives from Herff Jones will be available Monday, March 2 through Wednesday, March 4 and Monday, May 4 through Wednesday, May 6.

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Ph.D. candidates will receive their diplomas at the Commencement ceremony.  Ph.D. candidates not participating in the ceremony may pick up their diplomas in the Graduate School beginning on May 20.  Diplomas for master’s degree candidates will be available for pick-up in the Graduate School beginning July 1.  The office is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Ph.D. candidates wishing to have diplomas mailed should contact Kathy Miller at 410-455-3269 or   Master’s students should contact Linda Thomas at 410-455-2440 or

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No tickets are required for spring Commencement ceremonies. Doors will open at 9 a.m. For information on special accommodations seating, see the Special Accommodations section.

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A list of nearby hotels is available online.

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General parking for graduates and their guests will be available in The Commons Garage and along Hilltop Circle. Directional signs will be posted at all major campus entrances, leading you to the designated parking areas. Meters will not be in effect. Parking is not permitted at fire hydrants or in fire lanes.

Handicapped parking spaces will be available on the upper level of The Administrative Drive Garage. Cars must display handicapped license plates or hang tags. Please allow sufficient time for travel and parking. Participants and guests are strongly encouraged to share rides to alleviate parking difficulties.

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On Monday, May 4 through Wednesday, May 6, a professional photographer from Graduation Images will be available to take formal portraits of graduation candidates in their regalia. There is no purchase obligation.

Your friends and guests are welcome to bring cameras to the ceremony. Graduation Images will also photograph each graduate during the ceremony. However, no guests will be allowed down on the Retriever Activities Center floor. You will receive color proofs by mail approximately two weeks after Commencement. If you wish to purchase prints, you may do so, but there is no obligation. Please make sure that the Graduate School has your correct mailing address. Graduation Images’ contact information is 800-424-3686 or

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SPECIAL accommodations

If one of your guests requires special arrangements, please complete the Graduate School Special Accommodations Form and fax or mail the form to Lisa Morgan in the Graduate School (2nd Floor Administration Building; 1000 Hilltop Circle; Baltimore, Md. 21250) no later than Wednesday, May 13. The fax number is 410-455-5932. Special accommodations may include reserved seating for mobility-impaired persons, as well as hearing-impaired services.

A drop-off point for physically challenged persons has been designated on Administration Drive, near the Administrative Drive Garage. Please contact Lisa Morgan at 410-455-8142 if you require further information.

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Contact Lisa Morgan in the Graduate School at 410-455-8142 or at

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All faculty and staff are invited to participate in the Graduate School Commencement ceremony. If you also plan to participate in the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony, please see the Faculty/Staff/Administration section for details regarding that ceremony.

For seating purposes, we need an RSVP for ALL faculty and staff who will march in either or both ceremonies (undergraduate or Graduate School), even if you have your own regalia. The deadline to RSVP for one or both ceremonies is Friday, May 8. Please use the Web Commencement form.

UMBC will subsidize the rental of academic regalia for faculty and administrative and associate staff. To reserve regalia, please use the Web Commencement form.

If you have ordered regalia at UMBC before, your information will automatically appear on the screen when you enter your user name. If you have not ordered before, you must enter the following information: your cap size, height with shoes, weight, degree earned, and the name of the school where the degree was earned.

Prior to April 6, there is no cost to faculty and staff to rent regalia. Between April 6 and May 8, a $20 late fee will be charged. No regalia may be ordered after May 8. (Even if there is only a slight chance that you will attend Commencement, you should order regalia. It is easier for the Bookstore to return unused gowns and hoods than it is to place a late order and risk not receiving delivery on time.)

Faculty and staff may pick up rented regalia at the Bookstore Monday, May 11 through Friday, May 15. If you have any questions, please call the Bookstore’s Gail Dupree at 410-455-3904.

Faculty and staff should line up in the Retriever Activities Center gym (Court I on the lower level of the facility). Please make sure to arrive no later than 9:15 a.m. Personal belongings can be left at the line-up area, which will be monitored by campus security. If you are a mentor to a graduating Ph.D. candidate, please read the information below.

Any faculty members who are mentors to graduating Ph.D. candidates should report to the lower level (basement) of the Sondheim Hall no later than 9:15 a.m. Do not report to the regular line-up area for faculty and staff. Mentors will accompany their students in the procession and will hood them on stage as part of the ceremony.

Members of the platform party should line up in the Retriever Activities Center gym (Court 2 on the lower level of the facility). Please make sure to arrive no later than 9:15 a.m. Personal belongings may be left at the line-up area, which will be monitored by campus security.

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