Commencement FAQs

How do I know which Commencement ceremony I am supposed to attend?
The University has divided graduates by the academic school to which their major belongs. Consult the table at the bottom of this page to determine your academic school. All VWU Global students, regardless of major, participate in the VWU Global ceremony.

What if I have two majors?
The graduate should participate with the school of his/her major that appears first alphabetically.

  • A graduate who double-majors in English (BA) and History (BA) would participate in the Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities ceremony because E comes before H.
  • A graduate who double-majors in Psychology (BS) and Criminal Justice (BS) would participate in the Birdsong School of Social Science ceremony because C comes before P, and because both of these majors are in the Birdsong School.
  • A graduate who double-majors and earns different degrees, for example Psychology (BS) and Social Work (BSW), would participate in the Birdsong School of Social Science because P comes before S. 

Where do I buy my cap and gown?
Graduates can purchase their caps and gowns and/or the "Ultimate Graduation Package" here by April 23. Graduates who order by April 23 will be able to pick up their caps and gowns (regalia) in the Office of Finance and Administration from May 3-7 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

What if I can't afford my cap and gown?
Graduates should reach out to the Office of Finance and Administration (757.455.3280) to discuss their individual financial situations.

Can I purchase Commencement announcements to send to my family and friends?
Yes. Announcements for each ceremony are available for purchase through the University Store website. Diploma frames and class rings are also available.

Are we having a rehearsal for Commencement?
Yes. Rehearsals will be on Thursday, May 6 in the CMAC at the following times. Graduates in the following schools are strongly encouraged to attend rehearsal.  
Birdsong School of Social Science: 11:45 a.m.
Joan P. Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Science: 12:45 p.m.
Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities: 1:45 p.m.
D. Henry Watts School of Professional Studies: 2:45 p.m.
Please note that there will not be a rehearsal for VWU Global Campus. VWU Global Campus graduates can sit-in on one of the other rehearsals, if desired.

Can each graduate really only have two guests at Commencement?
Yes. Due to physical distancing guidelines, which according to Virginia Executive Order 72 dictates 10 feet of distance for commencement and graduation ceremonies (not 6 feet), each graduate will be able to register two guests. The name of each guest must be submitted by the graduate at the time of the cap and gown purchase.

All adults and children (regardless of age) will be required to be registered for the ceremony. The University will require all guests, including children aged five and under, to wear face coverings on campus.

Each ceremony will also be livestreamed for those who are not able to attend in person.

Does the University plan to redistribute unused guest registrations?
Unfortunately, no. Given the very specific state guidelines that must be followed and the logistics of doing so for five separate Commencement ceremonies, we will not be able to redistribute unused guest registrations.

What if I want to change my guests in attendance?
Graduates can change the names of their two guests until April 30. Please contact to submit new guest names.

What time will doors open for each ceremony?
Doors will open 30 minutes prior to each ceremony. Due to COVID contact tracing needs, seating will be assigned, so there is no benefit to lining up early. We ask that you not line up any earlier than 45 minutes before the ceremony begins. 

How will seats be assigned?
Seats will be assigned from the front of TowneBank Arena to the back based on the order in which the graduate purchases his/her cap and gown and submits guests' names.

I graduated in 2020. Can I participate in May's Commencement ceremonies?
If you completed all of your graduation requirements at the end of the Fall 2020 semester (December 2020), then yes. Please contact the Registrar's Office at 757.455.3358 or and order your cap and gown here.

Commencement for May 2020 and August 2020 graduates took place virtually on December 4, 2020; therefore, graduates from May 2020 and August 2020 are unable to participate in the May 2021 ceremony. The 2020 Commencement virtual ceremony can be viewed here.

What happens if Executive Order 72 changes - positively or negatively?
The University is continuing to monitor the situation. If the Governor loosens restrictions on indoor events such as commencements any time on or after May 1, the University will move forward with its current plan of two guests per graduate. If changes to the Executive Order are made prior to May 1, the University will make a determination at that time.

If the Governor tightens restrictions on indoor events such as commencement ceremonies, the University is committed to providing an in-person option for the Class of 2021. We have many contingency plans in place and would provide new details as needed.

What if I have more questions?
Please email to submit any remaining questions. 

Virginia Wesleyan University Schools and Programs

Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Science

Computer Science
Earth and Environmental Science
Environmental Studies

Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities

Comprehensive Liberal Studies
Hispanic Studies
Individualized Studies
Religious Studies
Women's and Gender Studies

Birdsong School of Social Science

Criminal Justice
History and Social Science
International Studies
Political Science
Social Science

D. Henry Watts School Of Professional Studies

Comprehensive Liberal Studies - Curricular Emphasis
Recreational Therapy
Social Work
Sport and Recreation Management
Sustainability Management

VWU Global Campus

Master of Business Administration
Master of Arts in Education
Evening and Weekend Program (all majors)
Online Program (all majors)