Frequently Asked Questions

I want to participate in Commencement — what do I need to do?

We recommend that students submit an application for graduation during the semester prior to when their degree will be complete. (For example, if you plan to graduate and complete all required classes in August, you could submit the application to graduate now and select "Summer graduation" in the application process, and you would be invited to walk in the April Commencement Ceremony. All other Summer applicants will be invited to the following Fall (December) ceremony.)

We invite you to apply on the registrar’s website. Apply by April 18 to ensure your name will be read when you cross the stage!

Why does my Banner account or application indicate a different date than what is listed on the Commencement website?

The date listed on a student’s Banner account and/or application is based on their ‘graduation’ date which is always the Saturday after finals (this year being April 30.) ‘Commencement’ is the actual ceremony. The dates and times noted on the Commencement website's home page are accurate and indicate when an eligible student will walk with their College.


  • 8 guest tickets per graduate will be available to claim starting April 4 through April 22 via an online ticketing system.
  • You must use your full GVSU student email address and password to login to claim your tickets once the tickets are available.
  • Donated tickets will go into a pool and be made available on a date to be announced.
  • For those who require more than 8 tickets, there is a link on the Commencement website homepage to request additional tickets. Requests are currently being processed and confirmations will be sent via email. Due to the volume of requests that were received, some confirmations may be sent the week of 4/25. Thank you for your patience!
  • Guests entering the venue must have a ticket.
  • E-tickets (on mobile phone) or printed tickets will be accepted.
  • All seats are General Admission.
  • Ticket not required for children under age of two.
  • Van Andel Arena has adopted a No Bag policy, permitting no bags, backpacks or purses other than those required for medical or parenting needs into the venue. Small clutches no larger than 4.5" x 6.5" x 2" will be permitted. Bags in the medical/essential category will be screened by security personnel. Policy is subject to change based on event policy. The No Bag policy reduces contact between guests and security staff by eliminating the need to search these items. This is part of ongoing efforts to promote a contact-free experience.


Visit the Allendale campus Laker Store to order your cap and gown. There is limited stock available on a first come, first served basis. Visit the Laker Store website for hours or contact them at 616-331-2450.

Cords and Stoles

  • There is no written policy about cords or stoles. However, we do discourage the purchase of additional cords and/or stoles.
  • The honor societies (with a required GPA) currently approved for cords are list on the Honors Recognition page.


  • Doors open 1.5 hours prior to the ceremony start time
  • Van Andel Arena has adopted a No Bag policy, permitting no bags, backpacks or purses other than those required for medical or parenting needs into the venue.
  • Each ceremony will be no longer than two and a half hours long.
  • The ceremony will be broadcast live online.
  • Additional information regarding the ceremony can be found on the Commencement website.


  • Parking is available in city lots near Van Andel Arena as well as the GVSU Pew Campus Fulton Lot. View downtown Grand Rapids parking options.
  • A pedestrian walkway will be available from the Pew Campus Fulton parking lot to the Van Andel Arena. Parking in the lot will be available from the west
  • We recommend allowing for extra travel time for delays due to heavy traffic, road construction, closures, or potential weather conditions that may impact travel. There will be construction and closures on Market Ave. between Fulton St. and Weathly St. VIew the project area and detours and view an up-to-date road closure map. Detours will be clearly marked. Please share this information with your guests as well.

COVID-19 Precautions and Protocol

  • Face coverings are optional.
    At this time, Van Andel Arena does not require face coverings. GVSU will monitor COVID-19 guidance from the CDC, state, and local public health officials. Plans will be adjusted as needed to address new orders, guidance, and data, as well as venue policies. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and our community are at the forefront of the Commencement planning process. Please regularly check this website for additional updates and information. 
  • View Van Andel Arena's VenueShield information.
  • According to the CDC's guidelines for quarantine and isolation, students who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 may participate in Commencement only if they are symptom free and have completed five days of isolation. For days 6-10, wear a well-fitting mask any time you are in public. For more information, please visit the CDC COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation webpage.

Accessibility Assistance

  • Closed captioning will be provided.
  • ADA accessible seating will be available.
  • Should you need additional accommodations or assistance, please email [email protected].


  • You may use cameras and video cameras, however guests should take pictures from their seat. Access to the stage is restricted to those involved in the ceremony. 
  • A professional photographer will take pictures of each graduate as they cross the stage.
  • A DVD will be available for purchase of each ceremony, to order complete our Commencement DVD Order Form.
  • Photographs and video will be taken during this event. Your presence gives consent for any such photographs or video to be used for advertising and publicity purposes by Grand Valley State University.

Following Ceremony

  • Family and friends should establish a predetermined location outside of the Van Andel Arena to meet with their graduate following the ceremony.

Commencement is coordinated by the Office of Student Life, which is a department of the Division of Student Affairs of Grand Valley State University.

Page last modified April 28, 2022