Commencement FAQ

Students Celebrating at Commencement

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FOR SATURDAY – SR 99 will have two lanes closed, both northbound and southbound, in the stadium district. More information can be found here.

Day-of Schedule and Locations

Caps and Gowns

Are caps and gowns required for me to participate in year-end celebrations?

Yes, caps and gowns (and hoods for master's and doctoral students), also known as regalia, are required to participate in the Graduate Hooding ceremonies, Ivy Cutting, and the Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement ceremonies. Regalia is not needed for Baccalaureate.

What color will my gown be?

Caps and gowns, regardless of degree level, are black.

Where do I order and pick up my cap and gown?

How do I order my tassel? What color will it be?

You will order your tassel when ordering your cap and gown. If you would like to order a tassel only, without cap and gown, they will available for individual purchase at the Grad Fest on April 10, and thereafter at the SPU bookstore.

Tassel color, standardized by the American Council for Education in the early 20th century, corresponds to the type of degree, as well as the school from which you earn it. See a complete list of degree types and their corresponding tassel color.

*For Masters and Doctoral Students: See a complete list of degree types and corresponding hood color.

I’m an undergraduate. How do I order my honor cord(s)?

You won’t pre-order your honor cords. Honor cords may be purchased at the SPU Bookstore when caps and gowns are picked up. The Bookstore will have a list of graduating students who are eligible to purchase honor cords.

What if I forget to pick up my cap and gown from the SPU Bookstore?

  • If you are an undergraduate, the Bookstore will have a table at Key Arena, selling caps and gowns before the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony begins.
  • If you are a graduate student, the Bookstore will be open before the Graduate Hooding ceremonies and Graduate Commencement ceremony.

On which side should I wear my tassel?

If you are an undergraduate student, at the beginning of the ceremony you will wear the tassel on your cap (i.e., mortar board) on the right side.

Men will remove their caps for the invocation and leave them off until the conclusion of the Commencement address. Replace them prior to moving to the platform and remove them again for the benediction, replacing them for the recessional. Once all degrees are conferred, President Martin will instruct all undergraduates to move their tassels from the right to the left side.

If you are a graduate student, you will wear your tassel on the left side of your cap. 

Tickets and Availability

Do I need a ticket to attend the Graduate Commencement ceremony or the Graduate Hooding ceremonies?

No! You don't need tickets to attend the Graduate Commencement ceremony and most of the Graduate Hooding ceremonies. To confirm, please contact your program coordinator.

Do I really need a ticket to attend the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony?

Yes! Every individual — including students, faculty, and staff — needs a ticket to enter the arena (this helps to ensure that all those that enter Key Arena are there for the purpose of our Undergraduate Commencement ceremony). If you are a graduating student, order your tickets through Banner when you sign up to walk in the ceremony.

  • Tickets are available beginning Monday, April 2. Please go to the Student Academic Services Office, Demaray 151, to pick them up.
  • Parents: Your student is the only one who can request tickets for you.
  • Faculty and staff: You will receive your tickets at the arena.
  • Trustees: Your tickets will be mailed to you.

Do small children need tickets?

Children age 3 and up are required to have a ticket for admittance to Key Arena.

Am I limited in the number of tickets I can have for the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony?

Each student who requests tickets will be issued 10 tickets. If your family needs more, you, as the graduating student, can request additional tickets when you register (through Banner) to walk for Commencement.

I'm a parent, and my student didn’t give me a ticket. Can I get one from your office? 

It is the policy of the University to deal only with students regarding tickets. You will need to work with your student to ensure you have tickets for the event.

Will I need a ticket if I leave Key Arena to grab some coffee or go back to the car to get something? 

Yes. Please take your ticket with you if you leave the arena and plan to re-enter for the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony. (Note: Since Key Arena concessions will not be open, you are free to bring beverages and food inside the arena.)

General Questions

How long will Commencement last?

  • Undergraduate Commencement will start at 1 p.m., Saturday, June 9, and should be finished by 3:30 p.m.
  • Graduate Commencement will start at 2 p.m., Friday, June 8, and should be finished by 3:30 p.m.

Who is the Commencement speaker this year?

What should I do with my purse/personal items during the ceremonies? 

There is no place to lock up, secure, or leave personal items and purses during either of the ceremonies. You must either leave items with a family member or carry them with you.

What items are prohibited at Undergraduate Commencement?

Wrapped gifts and balloons are not allowed inside KeyArena. For a complete list of prohibited items, please refer to the KeyArena Guide.

What time will the KeyArena entrances open for my Undergraduate Commencement guests? 

The two main entrances to KeyArena (the west entrance on 1st Avenue North and the east entrance on the International Fountain side) will open for family members and guests at 11:45 a.m. Students must arrive no later than 12:00 p.m. and must enter through Gate 4A on the south side of KeyArena (on Thomas Street). 

Will the concession stands be open at KeyArena

No. The concession stands will not be open before, during, or after the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony. However, bringing in your own water bottles, coffee, and food is allowed (no glass containers, please).

Are there any dining options on the SPU Campus on Friday, June 8?

Yes. See below for a list of dining options, as well as hours of operation. 

Campus Dining Options and Hours Friday, June 8, 2018

  • Academic Perks (Student Union Building): 7:30 a.m. –12:00 p.m.
  • Common Grounds (Weter Hall): 7:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
  • Corner Market, also called C-Store (Martin Square): 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Cocina del Sol (inside C-Store): 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Subway (Third Ave. W., across from Tiffany Loop): 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

*The SPU Bookstore will be open 8:30 a.m.–7 p.m. on Friday.

Where should I meet my family after the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony has concluded? 

Family members and guests will not be allowed onto the arena floor. Please plan to meet your guests on the Main Concourse or outside one of the arena's main east or west doors.

If your family members and guests have rented a suite, you can join them up in the suite by checking in with the attendant at the suite entry area. Please be aware that the suites will be vacated an hour after Commencement is finished. For more information on renting a suite, contact Steve Ransom at KeyArena by calling 206-428-6300 or emailing All suites must be reserved and paid for by Tuesday, May 15. 

What should I wear to Commencement? What should my parents wear? 

Please dress as you feel comfortable. What you wear to Commencement is a personal decision. People will be dressed in everything from three-piece suits to jeans and sweatshirts.

  • Undergraduate Commencement: Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for all graduates.
  • Graduate Commencement: Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for all graduates. Due to the outdoor nature of the ceremony, please come prepared for the weather (the ceremony will take place outdoors rain or shine). Since the ceremony takes place on the lawn, high-heeled shoes are not advised.

Will I get my diploma at Commencement? 

Diplomas are not distributed during either of the Commencement ceremonies. Instead, you will receive yours in the mail once all requirements are completed, your grades have been posted for your degree, and all financial obligations to the University (e.g., fines, etc.) are met. During the ceremony, you will receive a diploma cover.  

Spring Quarter graduates should receive diplomas by mid-September; Summer Session graduates by mid-December.

When can my parents expect to see me walk across the stage in KeyArena? 

The awarding of degrees usually begins around 2:30 p.m., BUT this is subject to the length of the preceding speeches. Degrees will be awarded by school in the following order (but please note that students do not walk in alphabetical order):

  • School of Business, Government, and Economics
  • School of Education
  • School of Health Sciences
  • School of Psychology, Family, and Community
  • School of Theology
  • College of Arts and Sciences

Note: As the largest school, College of Arts and Sciences will have more than half of all bachelor’s degree candidates. Please refer to the KeyArena Seating Chart so you know where your family should sit.

Can I watch a live stream of the ceremony?

Yes. SPU will be streaming all High Ceremonies live on our website. Visit our Live Streaming Page to view the following events:
Ivy Cutting, Friday, June 8, 9:30 a.m.
Graduate Commencement, Friday, June 8, 2:00 p.m.
Undergraduate Commencement, Saturday, June 9, 1:00 p.m.

Can I purchase photographs of the Commencement ceremony?

GradImages is the official photography company for Commencement.  They will take a photograph of each graduate receiving his or her diploma, and graduates will receive a proof in the mail shortly after the ceremony.  You can contact the company at 1-800-628-4509, or by visiting   

You can also pre-register for your email address, so you can insure your photos will get to you sooner:

What about lost and found?

  • If you have lost an item at an on-campus event, contact the Office of the Provost at 206-281-2125 or
  • If you have lost an item at the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony in Key Arena, go to the information booths on the main concourse at aisles 103 and 125. After the conclusion of Commencement, if the lost item is not retrieved, guests may contact Seattle Center Customer Service at 206-684-7200.

Further inquiries can be made by contacting the Office of the Provost at 206-281-2125 or

Are there recommended hotels and restaurants near SPU?

There are many hotels and restaurants in the areas directly surrounding SPU. The following hotels are listed by proximity to SPU's campus:

Courtyard Marriott
925 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

Four Points by Sheraton
601 Roy St
Seattle, Washington 98109

Hampton Inn & Suites
700 5th Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

Residence Inn 
800 Fairview Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

For post-Commencement dining options, explore Seattle restaurants by neighborhood, as well as make a reservation for your group.

Parking and Directions

How do I get to KeyArena, and where can I park?

View the KeyArena map, directions, and parking information.

Will Commencement events be ADA accessible? 

KeyArena has elevators and plentiful ADA seating for those in wheelchairs, as well as companion seats for those accompanying persons in the ADA section. KeyArena staff will be on hand to direct you. Vehicles displaying state-issued disabled parking permits will be allowed to drop off and pick up passengers in front of KeyArena on 1st Avenue North. View the complete list of special accommodations at KeyArena.

If you need ADA seating for on-campus Commencement events, or hearing interpretation for any of the events, please contact the Office of the Provost by Friday, May 11, at 206-281-2125 or, with the events you will be attending and the accommodations needed.


Did You Know?

The type of degree a student earns determines the color of the tassel on the cap.

Sent Out From This Place

From This Place

From its earliest days, Seattle Pacific has sent graduates into a “life lived for others.” Meet alums who’ve gone out before this year's graduating class.