Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Bryn Mawr College’s Commencement two days long?
Bryn Mawr College divides the Commencement festivities into two parts: Convocation and Commencement. Convocation occurs on Friday and features remarks from the senior class president(s) and representatives from both the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.

During Commencement on Saturday, President Kim Cassidy confers the degrees of Bachelors, Masters and Doctors onto the assembled candidates. The Bachelors or Masters candidate receives a Bryn Mawr College diploma, while the Doctoral candidate is “hooded” by the Chair of the General Faculty. Degrees are conferred in reverse order beginning with the Ph.D. and ending with the A.B. Bachelors degrees which are awarded in alphabetical order by academic department and alphabetical order by last name within a department.

Should we attend both Convocation and Commencement?
While it is not required that guests attend both Convocation and Commencement, the ceremonies serve different functions and offer family and friends a unique view into the Bryn Mawr College experience.

Where are Convocation and Commencement held?
The ceremonies are held outside under a tent on Merion Green, rain or shine. Spring in the Philadelphia area can range from hot and humid to cold and wet, therefore we recommend that guests dress in layers.

Do we need tickets for Commencement?
Tickets are not required for Convocation or Commencement or for any receptions on campus throughout the weekend. Hosting the Commencement Weekend ceremonies out-of-doors allows us to accommodate all of our graduates’ families, friends and guests.

What is an announcement? How do I order announcements?Announcements are not a requirement but are a method of alerting family and friends who might not be able to attend the weekend that your child is graduating. 

Typically, families choose to order announcements from Balfour as the College has a history with the company. Bryn Mawr awards an 'A.B.' degree to undergraduate candidates, which is merely 'B.A.' in Latin.

What is the difference between tickets and invitations?

Bryn Mawr College does not issue tickets for Commencement weekend.

Invitations are similar to a save-the-date announcement. One is distributed by the College to family or friends as indicated by the degree candidate.  Up to two additional invitations are available, upon request, from the Conferences and Events Office beginning the second week in April.

Neither tickets nor invitations are required to attend either Convocation or Commencement. Please be advised that seating is not reserved and therefore is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

How do we reserve seats?
All seating is first-come, first-serve. Chairs  may not be reserved with signage, balloons, coats, umbrellas, etc. in advance of either ceremony. However, you may hold sufficient seating to accommodate your family as long as a family member is continually present.

To accommodate family members and guests with special needs, i.e. wheelchair seating, sign language interpreters, etc., each degree candidate will be mailed a Request for Accommodations form to be completed and returned to the Conferences and Events office no later than the second week of May.

What time do the ceremonies begin?
Convocation will begin promptly at 4:30pm on Friday.  Commencement will begin promptly at 2:00 p.m.on Saturday with a processional of the graduates, faculty and administration. To ensure that the procession runs smoothly and to allow everyone a view, we ask that you vacate the aisles by 1:45 p.m.

How long is the ceremony?
Convocation on Friday is usually 60 minutes long and has an abbreviated academic procession with faculty, degree candidates and those speaking.  .Commencement on Saturday is typically 2 hours in length and is immediately followed by Garden Party for AB degree recipients and their guests and a separate reception for all Masters and Ph.D. recipients and their guests.

What is Garden Party?
Garden Party is a traditional tea party that gives the Bachelors recipient an opportunity to introduce family, friends and guests to the Bryn Mawr College friends and faculty. Light refreshments are provided by Bryn Mawr College Dining Services for this event. Garden Party begins at the conclusion of Commencement (approximately 4:00 p.m.) and ends at 6:00 p.m.

Where should we park?
Parking is available in all Bryn Mawr College lots. In the event that a lot is full, a uniformed Campus Safety Officer or a sign will direct you to the next nearest available lot.

Bryn Mawr campus shuttles will drive a continuous loop between the parking areas and campus.

May we take photographs of the speakers and graduates during the ceremonies?
Yes, you may take photographs from your seat; however, to avoid obstructing the view of others, you are asked not to approach the stage area. Bryn Mawr has contracted with Legacy Photographics ( to take a photograph of each graduate receiving his/her diploma from President Kim Cassidy. Legacy Photographics will mail information about purchasing these photographs to the parents of Bachelors candidates and directly to the advanced degree candidates.

The College does not benefit financially from this arrangement; it is provided as a service to graduates and their families. You are under no obligation to purchase these pictures.

A member of our family has a mobility impairment and requires special access. How should we arrange for this?
There is a designated drop-off point in the Merion parking lot close to the tent on Merion Green. In addition, reserved parking and reserved seating are available for guests with special needs.

In order for us to arrange for your needs, please have the degree candidate complete and return the Request for Accommodations form no later than the second week in May. For both days, parking placard(s) and/or Special Access seating tickets are required. The parking placard will be checked when you enter the parking lot and an usher will be stationed at the Special Access entrance to the tent to collect your tickets.

A map indicating these areas will be included with the parking placard(s) and/or Special Access seating tickets. Degree candidates must pick up this information packet from Conferences and Events, lower level of the Campus Center, during the week of Commencement