Graduate Student Ceremony Instructions

The Pitt community will celebrate the attainment of master's, professional doctoral, and doctoral degrees on Thursday, April 25, at the University's John M. and Gertrude Petersen Events Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. To learn when and where to arrive, as well as details on seating, parking, and more, see the instructions below. Or download the student instructions postcard (PDF)

Where do I go and when?

Lawn Level Entrance doors for all candidates will open at 4:30 p.m.

Doctoral candidates are to arrive no later than 5 p.m. through the Lawn
Level Entrance.

  • Candidates will line up in the Food Court, located on the Lawn Level (Figure 2).
  • All candidates will be lined up in the correct order for the academic procession prior to the start of the ceremony.

Master’s and professional doctoral candidates are to arrive no later than 5:30 p.m. through the Lawn Level Entrance.

  • Candidates will line up in the Practice Gym, located on the Event Level (Figure 3).

Petersen Event Center Floor Plans

Where do my family and guests go?

  • Doors to the Petersen Events Center will open at 5:30 p.m.
  • All family members and guests enter the Petersen Events Center through either the Lobby Level Entrance (Figure 1) or Concourse A (Figure 4).
    No tickets will be required for entrance. Open seating is available.

What happens once I arrive?

  • Graduates are to be dressed in their regalia and academic hood upon arrival.
  • Check in at the registration desk in your assigned area to receive your name card and lanyard. Place the lanyard around your neck.
  • If you have chosen not to have your name announced, you will still receive a card and lanyard designating your request not to have your name announced.

What happens during the ceremony?

  • The ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a procession of graduates, faculty, and the platform party.
  • Master’s and professional doctoral candidates will wear their hoods and process onto the floor.
  • Doctoral candidates will process onto the floor with their faculty advisors. Advisors will carry candidates’ hoods over their left arm. (It is advised that the candidate and advisor practice hooding before the ceremony starts. Candidates may choose not to wear their mortarboard onto the stage to assist with the hooding process.)
  • As each school is announced, all candidates will be led to the stage by a marshal.
  • Once the master’s and professional doctoral candidates reach the stairs, volunteers will collect their cards prior to the candidates’ ascending onto the stage. Candidates' names will be announced, at which time candidates should move toward their dean. After receiving congratulations from their dean, candidates will be directed off the stage.
  • Once the doctoral candidates, accompanied by their faculty advisors, reach the stairs, volunteers will collect their cards prior to ascending the stage. Name announcers will then read each candidate’s name and faculty advisor’s name. The candidate’s dissertation title will be shown on the overhead screens. Candidates will be hooded by their faculty advisor and congratulated by their dean before descending from the stage.
  • Candidates who have chosen not to have their names announced will be congratulated by their dean before descending from the stage.
  • It is important to move swiftly to ensure that you are on stage when your name is announced. Please do not take time to have a conversation with those on stage and keep moving.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: All candidates and faculty advisors should refrain from bringing bags, backpacks, or purses with them to the ceremony, as they might not return to the same seat after descending from the stage.

Does everyone wear regalia?

  • This is an academic ceremony and, as such, academic regalia is required to participate in the procession.
  • Only those students in full academic regalia (cap, gown, and hood) will be permitted to process in the ceremony. The only exceptions will be for those graduates in military uniform.

Where should I park?

  • Several University of Pittsburgh parking lots will be open beginning at 4 p.m. (with the exception of the TV lot, which will open at 6 p.m.) and will be free for graduates and their guests. The lots that will be open are highlighted in dark blue on the campus map detail below.
  • The following hotels in the Oakland area provide courtesy shuttles to their guests that will transport them to the Petersen Events Center: Hilton Garden Inn Pittburgh University Place, McKee Place; Hampton Inn Pittsburgh University/Medical Center, Boulevard of the Allies; Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center, Lytton Avenue; and Residence Inn Pittsburgh Oakland/University Place, Forbes Avenue. Arrangements for the shuttles should be made directly with the hotel by the registered guest.

Campus Map Detail

PCNTR: John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Events Center
University parking lots are in dark blue.

E: Fitzgerald Field House
F: Fraternity
OC: Allequippa Street (Shuttles will run to and from this parking lot.)
OH: O’Hara Garage
PG: Public Health
U: Veterans Lot

What accommodations have been made for Individuals with disabilities?

  • The Lobby Level and Concourse Level entrances are accessible for individuals with disabilities. The most accessible entrance to the Petersen Events Center for family and guests is the Lobby Level Entrance.
  • The Petersen Events Center offers seating for guests with disabilities behind sections L213, L214, L215, L216, L220, L221, and L222. These seats can be accessed by taking the elevators to the Concourse Level (Figure 4). Additional seating for individuals with disabilities is behind sections 101, 102, 103, 104, 124, 125, and 126. These seats can be accessed by taking the elevators to Club Rear.
  • Section 120 of the Petersen Events Center will be reserved for those family members and guests of graduates who are hearing impaired and will be staffed by a sign language interpreter.
  • If a graduate requires special accommodations due to a disability, he/she should contact the Office of Special Events at 412-624-7100. Arrangements will be handled individually.

Anything else?

  • Choose a meeting location with your guests before they take their seats.
  • Alcoholic beverages and items that can interfere with the ceremony (beach balls, bullhorns, etc.) are not permitted in the Petersen Events Center and will be confiscated.
  • All graduate students should be in the building no later than 5:30 p.m. for the ceremony. There will be thousands of people entering and walking through the Petersen Events Center. Latecomers will not be permitted to walk with their school during the processional, and they will be seated in the general overflow student section.
  • There will be a dessert reception for all graduates and their guests immediately following the ceremony on the Concourse Level. During the reception, don’t miss the opportunity to stop at a photo booth located near the main exit doors for a memento photograph with classmates, advisors, and family members.
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