The following information was sent to parents and guests of the Yale College Class of 2020 in July, 2019.
Dear Families and Friends of the Class of 2020,
We hope the following preliminary information is helpful to you as you begin to think about Commencement 2020. Commencement weekend activities for students and their guests begin on Saturday, May 16 and culminate in the University Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 18, on Yale’s historic Old Campus.
Throughout this year, the Commencement website will be your best source for information about ceremonies, housing, dining, accessibility, announcements and yearbooks, and weekend activities. The website will be updated as new information becomes available.
On-campus housing is available to families in your student’s residential college from Saturday through Tuesday at noon. The arrangements are basic but provide an opportunity to stay in a central location at a reasonable price. Registration for on-campus housing will open in mid-November. Families and students will be notified by email and the Commencement website will be updated.
Many families plan their time around the Yale College ceremonies and events described below and spend from Saturday to Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning in New Haven.
Yale College Baccalaureate
Saturday, May 16 2:30 p.m. (Jonathan Edwards, Grace Hopper, Trumbull, Silliman, and Ezra Stiles Colleges)
Sunday, May 17 9:00 a.m. (Berkeley, Davenport, Benjamin Franklin, and Pauli Murray Colleges)
Sunday, May 17 11:00 a.m. (Branford, Timothy Dwight, Morse, Pierson, and Saybrook Colleges)
This historic ceremony goes back to Yale’s founding days, when a baccalaureate sermon would be delivered on the Sunday before Commencement. The sermon has given way to an address in Woolsey Hall by President Peter Salovey (the only address he gives on Commencement weekend), music, readings of diverse sacred texts, and remarks from Yale College Dean Marvin Chun. This is the only Commencement ceremony that requires tickets. Each senior will be allocated up to four tickets and a live-stream viewing site will be available nearby. This ceremony lasts approximately one hour.
Yale College President’s Reception
Saturday, May 16
President Salovey and Dean Chun will greet all members of the senior class and their guests immediately following the Baccalaureate held on Saturday afternoon.
Yale College Class Day
Sunday, May 17
Class Day, a Yale College celebration dating to the 19th century, takes place on Old Campus on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The ceremony includes the awarding of academic, athletic, and other prizes, an address by a notable speaker chosen with undergraduates’ input, and speeches and a presentation reflecting on the graduating class’s four years at Yale. Seniors wear academic gowns and headgear of their choice and process from Cross Campus to Old Campus. By longstanding tradition, the wider Yale community is invited to join the audience on Old Campus. A colorful, informal event, Class Day lasts approximately two hours and takes place outdoors rain or shine.
Monday, May 18
All university degrees are formally conferred during the Commencement ceremony on Old Campus. During the ceremony, the dean of Yale College and deans of the Graduate and professional schools formally present their approved candidates to the president. The president, in turn, confers the degrees and admits new graduates to each degree’s “rights and responsibilities.” Honorary degrees are also presented. There are no speakers at the university ceremony, and individual diplomas are not presented. The ceremony lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Residential College Diploma Ceremonies
Monday, May 18
The diploma ceremonies for Yale College seniors immediately follow the university ceremony and take place in the courtyards of the colleges (with designated rain spaces used as necessary). This ceremony typically last between an hour and a half or two hours and is the ceremony at which your student’s diploma will be presented. Lunch is available at the college following the ceremony – tickets can be purchased in March for family members or students who do not participate in the food plan.
Though Commencement exercises on Old Campus do not take place until Monday, the campus is busy with activity all weekend long. Beginning Friday evening with the Yale Symphony Orchestra concert and the Yale Dramat musical, there are many performances and events for you to enjoy no matter when you choose to arrive, residential colleges host Receptions on Sunday afternoon after Class Day. Yale Hospitality offers Sunday brunch and a Monday post-diploma ceremony lunch in the residential colleges. Tickets for brunch and lunch will be available for purchase in the spring.
Please email the Commencement Office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions as you make your plans.
Yale Commencement Office