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Commencement Events

You may hear the two words used interchangeably, but there's a difference between graduation and commencement!

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Commencement Events 2020

Commencement vs. Graduation – What’s the difference?

You may hear the two words used interchangeably, but there’s a difference between graduation and commencement! Graduation is the completion of all degree requirements as recorded on your official transcript. Commencement is the ceremony that celebrates the completion of a degree. While encouraged, participation in the commencement ceremony is not required.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 6:00pm

All students participating in the commencement ceremony must attend a mandatory rehearsal. You must pay a graduation fee whether or not you participate in the ceremony.

Rehearsal for undergraduates, graduates, credential and certificate students will be held on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 6:00 PM. Check-in will begin at 5:00 PM in front of the Library. This rehearsal is the opportunity for both you and us to accomplish many tasks in the fastest and most painless way! Graduates unable to attend rehearsal due to distance challenges need to contact Sister Carol Sellman before May 6 ( or (510) 436-1265).

During the rehearsal we will:

  • Complete cards with the phonetic pronunciation of your name
  • Walk through the ceremonies
  • Discuss line-up procedures for Commencement
  • Distribute parking permits
  • Answer any last minute questions

We will make every attempt to limit the rehearsal to 60 minutes or less. Please be on time so that we can begin the rehearsal promptly at 6:00 PM.

Commencement Mass

Friday, May 08, 2020 at 4:00pm

The Commencement Mass is for undergraduates, graduates and credential/certificate students. The Mass will be celebrated on Friday, May 08 at 4:00 PM in the McLean Chapel. The Catholic Mass is planned in part by members of the graduating class and much care is taken to include the diverse religious traditions present on campus. Academic gowns and hoods are worn for the Mass. Participation in the Mass is encouraged but optional.

Commencement Ceremonies

Graduate Commencement Ceremony: Friday, May 08, 2020 at 6:30pm
Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony: Saturday, May 09, 2020 at 4:30pm

The Commencement ceremonies take place on the lawn of the Corrigan Courtyard. In case of rain or inclement weather, the Tobin Gym will be the “rain site” for Commencement. If this is the case, special tickets will be issued as attendance will be limited.

Tickets and Parking

We do not distribute individual tickets for guests. In order to ensure there is enough seating for our guests, all cars will need to display a special parking permit during Commencement weekend. Each student will receive 2 parking permits for on-campus parking, which will be distributed at Commencement rehearsal. For the undergraduate commencement ceremony, HNU also offers off-campus parking nearby for cars without permits. Shuttles will be available to pick up guests and shuttle them to campus.

Accessibility Information

Parking for guests with disabilities is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the upper lot near the Valley Center for the Performing Arts.  Drop-off is also available in this area. If you need accessible seating or other accommodations for any Commencement Event, please contact Rebecca Whitney, Disability Support Services Coordinator (