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Commencement FAQs

Due to ongoing pandemic-related disruptions and restrictions, The Graduate School will not be able to hold its normal Ph.D. hooding ceremony in 2021. The school will hold other activities to celebrate its Ph.D. graduates instead. The FAQs below do not apply to the 2021 activities. | Details


I want to attend the PhD Hooding Ceremony in May. How do I get tickets?

The Graduate School will be sending a survey to eligible PhD candidates in late February. In that survey, you will be able to indicate the number of tickets you would like to reserve and find information regarding ticket pick-up/delivery (typically mid-April).

How many people can I invite to the hooding ceremony?

You can reserve up to four tickets. Please note that the graduating student and adviser do not need tickets, so they are not included in this number. Additional tickets might be available depending on the number of graduates, but the final number of tickets available will not be known until closer to the event.

Do faculty members who are attending and hooding a graduate student need a ticket?

No, faculty members do not need a physical ticket for the PhD Hooding Ceremony. As long as we know you are attending, we will include you in the faculty count. You will be easily identified by the academic apparel.

How long is the hooding event?

The PhD Hooding Ceremony itself is approximately 2-2.5 hours. A reception will follow the ceremony.

What name will be on my diploma?

The form that you complete when you apply to graduate will ask you to enter a degree name. This will be the name that appears on your diploma. If you have middle initial and want a period after the middle initial, be sure to enter that punctuation during the application-for-graduation process.

How do I get my cap, gown, and hood?

For the PhD Hooding Ceremony and the university-wide Commencement Ceremony at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Football Stadium, graduation caps, gowns, and hoods are rented for a fee through the Bryan Center Bookstore. Place your apparel order before March 20. You need to pick up you cap, gown, and hood and return them immediately after Sunday's ceremony. You can keep your tassels. You can find more information at

Where do I get my announcements and invitations?

You may order personalized graduation announcements through Jostens. Generic announcements will be available at Duke University Stores in mid-March.

I am an international student and need documentation for my family to attend from outside the United States.

If you are a non-US citizen and have guests who need to apply for VISAs in order to attend the commencement ceremony, please complete the Confirmation of Status Form and have it signed first by your department and then by VISA Services. Visitor VISA information and the confirmation of status form can be found HERE.

VISA Services Contact Information

Call: (919) 681-8472

For US citizens with non-US guests

An Enrollment Verification Form and informational letter can also serve as additional documentation in the VISA request process. Enrollment Verification Forms can be requested through ACES:
Enrollment Verification Form
2020 Commencement Letter