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. We invite you to apply on the registrar’s website. 

Once you've applied to graduate, you will receive an email invitation to attend the Commencement ceremony. The deadline to register to walk in Commencement is Wednesday, November 8. Registering by this date will also ensure that your name will be professionally recorded to be read when you cross the stage!

Additionally, if you apply and register by November 8, your name will also be included on the 2023 Commencement t-shirts, available for purchase as a memento.



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. ‘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.


  • Tickets are not required. However, due to capacity limitations at the venue, we ask that all candidates be mindful of their number of guests in attendance. This will ensure everyone has an enjoyable experience and that there are seats available for all. All seats are general admission, seating is first-come, first-seated and there are no reserved seats. We will live stream the ceremony and provide a live stream link on the homepage on the day of the event.
  • 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.

Regalia - Purchase by November 11!

Visit the Laker Store website by November 11, 2023 to order your cap and gown for the December ceremony.

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.
  • The ceremony is anticipated to be no longer than 2.5 hours. (Please allow for time to find your seat before the ceremony. Also allow time for exiting and meeting up with your graduate/supporters after the ceremony, when considering plans after the event.)
  • 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. View downtown Grand Rapids parking options.
  • 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 is some construction taking place near the Van Andel Arena. Please check for closures and the most up-to-date information regarding road construction by viewing the City of Grand Rapids road closure map as well as their project page.

Accessible Parking:
Accessible parking is available in all City owned and operated parking ramps and surface parking lots. Each lot has accessible designated spaces, including van-accessible spaces, for vehicles displaying a current state-issued disability placard or license plate. Accessible spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so please plan accordingly. Please refer to the Directions & Parking tab for locations, availability and additional information regarding City parking. City of Grand Rapids Parking Services can be contacted at 616-456-3290.

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 Isolation and Precautions webpage.

Accessibility and Special Accommodations

  • Closed captioning will be provided.
  • ASL interpreters will be provided. (Please ask an usher to direct you to the section reserved for guests requiring an ASL interpreter.)
  • ADA accessible seating will be available. Learn more on Van Andel Arena's website.
  • A nursing mothers' room will be located on the main concourse in the ASM Boardroom, inside the ASM administrative offices
  • Should you need additional accommodations or assistance, please email [email protected] or indicate a graduate special accommodations request during the registration process for attending Commencement.


  • 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. There will be no opportunity for families to meet up with their graduates indoors.

Commencement is coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs of Grand Valley State University.

Page last modified October 30, 2023