Commencement FAQ

Commencement FAQ

Is IU holding a Commencement ceremony?

Indiana University Bloomington will celebrate recent graduates as part of special May ceremonies. Graduates are invited to join in-person, and families and guests can join virtually.

The in-person ceremonies are open to all 2020 graduates and all May and August 2021 graduates. Students must reserve a spot ahead of time to attend and will be asked to indicate their interest in attending.

What if a graduate cannot attend the in-person ceremony?

Graduates are invited to join virtually and celebrate from wherever they are.

Why can't guests attend the in-person ceremonies?

Commencement is a cause for celebration, and we understand that family and friends want to share in the excitement. Inviting guests to join virtually is the best way to allow a safe, in-person Commencement experience for our graduates.

The safety and well-being of the IU community led to this decision. It was made in close consultation with our Medical Response Team, which has guided IU's successful COVID-19 response for the past year. CDC guidelines recommend that people avoid travel because of the continued pandemic across the U.S. and globe. Each IU campus is making its Commencement plans in coordination with county health departments, and restrictions on events and gatherings vary based on community. IU has been able to successfully manage COVID-19 cases and avoid large outbreaks through routine testing on all of its campuses, allowing us to keep our campuses open safely while some other universities had to suspend classes. Limiting in-person ceremonies to graduates only allows IU to use its proven public health strategy to ensure a safe Commencement celebration.

How can IU allow fans at NCAA games, but not family and friends at Commencement ceremonies?

All decisions about events on IU's campuses are based on recommendations from our Medical Response Team. IU will allow only up to 500 spectators for games played at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. This includes immediate family members of participating players, staff, and a limited number of seats for vaccinated medical personnel and first responders in Monroe County.

IUPUI hosts its home games at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum through an agreement with the Indiana State Fair, which operates the venue and worked directly with the NCAA to determine the capacity for spectators at the tournament.

Commencement ceremonies involve thousands of graduates alone. The scale of these events makes hosting in-person ceremonies for graduates only, while guests join virtually, the best way to ensure the safety of our students and campuses. Travel to IU's campuses is strongly discouraged to minimize the risks of COVID-19.

When are the ceremonies?

IU Bloomington Commencement is May 7 for graduate students, May 8 for undergraduates.

When will the details be shared about specific ceremony locations?

Graduates will be asked to indicate their interest in participating, which IU will use to determine the time and place of each ceremony. Once students have responded to the request, campus organizers will finalize plans for the best campus location that allows for physical distancing.

How will IU ensure the ceremonies are safe?

IU makes all decisions in consultation with its Medical Response Team. In addition to limiting in-person ceremonies to only graduates, those who participate will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing. All IU public safety protocols, including wearing a mask and physically distancing, must be followed during Commencement.

Will schools, departments and programs host Commencement events?

The only in-person Commencement activities will be the official campus graduation ceremonies. All other recognition events will be held virtually.

What if there's a spike in COVID-19 cases at the time of Commencement?

IU is continually monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, and all plans are subject to change based on the public health outlook in each community. The university is committed to keeping its campuses safe, and will communicate directly with graduates if plans change.

Will IU reconsider inviting guests to attend in-person Commencement ceremonies if there's a drop in COVID-19 cases?

Even if infection rates in communities across Indiana decline, large gatherings on campuses increase the risk of infection for everyone. IU's campuses have been among the safest places in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic because of our robust mitigation testing program, which helps us quickly identify and address any increase in cases among students, faculty, and staff. The best way to ensure a safe, in-person Commencement celebration for our graduates is to operate within the same controlled environment that has allowed IU to safely keep its campuses open since the fall.

If I rented Commencement apparel in 2020, will I have to rent it again for May 2021?

All 2020 graduates who ordered and paid for official caps, tassels, gowns, hoods, and stoles will receive the complimentary use of gowns (and hoods if you earned a graduate degree) to wear at Commencement. Bring your cap, tassel (and stole if you earned an undergraduate degree). You will be contacted by Herff Jones before Commencement to arrange the use of complimentary apparel.

Can families and friends of graduates enter the athletics complex parking lot or buildings during Commencement?

Only graduates will be permitted in the athletics complex parking lot. Tailgating, camping, and accompanying graduates to the ceremony site will be prohibited. Commencement 2021 will be attended by graduates only, and families and friends will be able to watch the ceremony online, at a link that will be provided before Commencement weekend. To help ensure everyone’s safety, travel to the IU Bloomington campus by graduates’ families and friends is strongly discouraged.

The latest information on Commencement will be available at