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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 2021

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.

Commencement Mass

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Commencement Mass is for undergraduates, graduates and credential/certificate students. The Mass will be celebrated on Friday, May 14 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

May 14 and 15, 2021

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 (