When and where is the universitywide Commencement ceremony?

The 2020 universitywide Commencement ceremony is on Thursday, May 21, at 11 a.m. in Royal Farms Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, Maryland 21201.

The main entrance is at the corner of W. Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place. Another entrance is on S. Howard Street, across from the Light Rail station.

Who should attend the universitywide Commencement ceremony?

All bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral candidates are invited to attend. All degrees from all nine schools will be conferred during this ceremony. Bachelor’s and doctoral candidates from the following schools will be called to cross the stage:

  • School of Education
  • Peabody Conservatory
  • School of Nursing
  • Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • School of Advanced International Studies
  • School of Medicine
  • Whiting School of Engineering
  • Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

This ceremony includes those candidates whose degrees were conferred earlier in the year. Candidates must let their schools know that they plan to participate in this ceremony by contacting their Registrar’s Office.

I'm graduating with a bachelors degree. What do I need to do?

Make sure you do all the things on the Undergrad checklist. In early May, the Registrar’s Office will post a document covering all final information and instructions.

I'm graduating with an advanced degree. What do I need to do?

All graduates are invited to attend the universitywide Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 21 at 11 a.m. in the Royal Farms Arena. Doctoral candidates will be called to cross the stage. Please refer to the Ceremonies by School page for details on your school-specific ceremony.

What are graduates required to wear for Commencement?

Each graduate will need to purchase regalia (cap and gown) in order to participate in the school-specific and universitywide ceremonies.

To purchase your regalia visit https://jhu.shopoakhalli.com and select your school to purchase the correct regalia.

Are tickets required?

Tickets are not required for family and guests of graduates to attend the universitywide ceremony. There is ample seating in the arena, and students are welcome to bring as many guests as they would like.

It is recommended that guests arrive early if they wish to select a particular seating area.

Doors will open at 9:30 a.m.

When should candidates arrive at the arena?

Candidates should arrive by 10 a.m. for lineup, doors to the arena will open at 9:30 a.m.

Graduates should enter through a special entrance along the East side of the building. Please note, only graduates will be permitted to enter through this entrance and this entrance will close at 10:30 a.m. Additional entrances are located at the corner of W. Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place and on S. Howard Street, across from the Light Rail station.


How early should guests arrive to get seats?

The doors to Royal Farms Arena will open at 9:30 a.m. Upon entering Royal Farms Arena all guests will pass through a metal detector. All guests should be in their seats by 11 a.m. for the processional. Please allow time for traffic, parking, walking to Royal Farms Arena, and finding a seat.


How can I be as informed as possible about Commencement day?

Continue to visit the Commencement website; information will be updated as it becomes available.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: #jhu2020.

How can family members who cannot attend participate in the ceremony?

The ceremony will be webcast and anyone with internet access will be able to view it. Information about the university’s Commencement webcast, as well as webcasts of several individual school ceremonies, will be available on the Stories and Pictures page in the spring.

What hotels are close to the arena?

Many hotels are in close proximity to Royal Farms Arena. The Hotel page has a map and a list of hotels offering special rates to Johns Hopkins guests.

When should families plan to be in town?

The universitywide Commencement will take place on Thursday, May 21 at 11 a.m.

For undergraduate families and guests, if schedules permit, consider arriving in time to join your graduate for other Commencement-related activities on Homewood campus. A detailed calendar is available here and will be updated throughout the year. Activities include the Homewood Undergraduate Senior Toast – a champagne and dessert reception with university leadership, 8 – 10 p.m., Wednesday, May 20.

As the Commencement date nears, your student can tell you what other events they are participating in, as there are many smaller events that take place leading up to and following Commencement.

Where is Royal Farms Arena?

Royal Farms Arena is located in the heart of downtown Baltimore at 201 W. Baltimore Street. For directions to the arena, click here.

Where should we park?

Since public parking is limited near the arena, please consider avoiding driving if possible. For those who do to drive, the Parking & Transportation page has information about parking in the general vicinity.

The arena’s drop-off area is along the curb on W. Baltimore Street, near the main entrance at the corner of W. Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place.

Johns Hopkins University will offer complimentary parking in the South Garage on the Homewood campus on Commencement day and operate shuttle service from Mason Hall to the Royal Farms Arena. Information about the Homewood shuttle is on the Parking & Transportation page.

Is there accessible parking available near the arena?

Accessible parking spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis are located in the garage attached to the arena and in other nearby parking facilities. Parking in these spots requires a state-issued license plate or hangtag. More information about accessibility can be found on the Event Accessibility page.

Please note that the Baltimore Place entrance is the accessible entrance into the arena.


Is disability seating available?

The ceremony will have designated seating areas for persons using wheelchairs. Seating is available for the individual with the disability and up to three companions on a first-come, first-served basis. This seating is located on the Level 1 Concourse behind sections 103, 104, 115 and 116. For assistance finding seating, please see one of the Commencement volunteers or ushers inside the arena.

For other guests with mobility disabilities, it is strongly recommended that you arrive early to ensure you are able to find a seat that meets your needs. The doors to the arena will open at 9:30 a.m. For assistance, please see an usher or Commencement volunteer.

Elevators are on the southeast and southwest corners of the buildings. Please see a Royal Farms Arena staff member for assistance upon entering the building.

Please Note: The arena is a large facility and a considerable distance must be traveled to get to all of the seats. Guests for whom walking long distances is difficult are strongly encouraged to rent a wheelchair for the day. Wheelchairs will not be available at the arena. Information about renting one is in the next section: “Will wheelchairs be available?”

Will wheelchairs be available?

Wheelchairs are not available at the arena. To rent a wheelchair, you may call Northern Pharmacy at 410-254-2055, press “3” to speak to the operator and ask for medical equipment rentals; or email Northern Pharmacy.


Will an ASL interpreter and/or captioning be provided?

Large screens will project the Commencement ceremony and each graduate as he/she crosses the stage, so guests need not sit close to the stage to have a “good seat.” The ceremony will be captioned on the large screens on either side of the stage.

Additionally, Sign Language Interpreters are available upon request. Please contact the Commencement Office at commencement@jhu.edu or 410-516-7711 by April 21 to request ASL Interpreters. In all situations, a good faith effort (up until the time of the event) will be made to provide accommodations.

Assisted listening devices are available at Royal Farms Arena Guest Services, which is located behind section 227. A driver’s license will need to be left in exchange for the device.

Are large print or Braille versions of the Commencement program available?

A limited number of LARGE-PRINT copies will be available on the day of the event. Please see the ushers for LARGE-PRINT copies. Should a guest need a Braille Commencement program booklet please contact the Commencement Office at commencement@jhu.edu or 410-516-7711 by April 21.

Will food be available during the universitywide ceremony?

Concession stands are available around the arena; they accept credit cards and cash.


Are there restrictions on what can be brought into the arena?

Yes. Restrictions are as follows:

  • Backpacks are not permitted.
  • Bags and purses larger than 13-5/8″ x 15-1/4″ are also not permitted.
  • Cameras and video recorders are permitted, however the bag they are carried in must meet the above size guidelines.
  • Diaper bags are permitted.
  • Please do not bring wrapped gifts into the arena.
  • No balloons are allowed in the arena.
  • No signs, posters, banners, or flags are allowed in the arena.
  • Food and drinks may not be brought into the arena.

All bags and purses could be searched upon entering the arena.

Re-entry to the arena will not be permitted once you have left the building.

The arena is cold, we do recommend bringing a sweater or blanket. 

How will I find my graduate after the ceremony?

What works best is to select a “meeting point”. We recommend selecting a location outside of the arena if possible. Please note, there is no re-entry once you have left the arena.


Once our graduate's name is called and he or she crosses the stage, may we leave?

No, out of respect for the other graduates, all graduates and their guests are expected to stay until the ceremony is over. However, if it is necessary to leave early, we ask you to move quickly and quietly to an exit so as not to disrupt others. Please note, there is no re-entry once you have left the arena.


How can we help commemorate the day?

Visit the Commemorate the Moment page for more information on ways that you can help commemorate this special day.


Where do I pick up my diploma?

Spring Bachelor and Doctoral graduates from Arts and Sciences and Engineering will receive their diplomas at the Commencement ceremony on May 21. All other graduates, including previous Fall and Summer graduates, will receive their diplomas by mail. Any diplomas not picked up at the Commencement ceremony will be mailed.

Questions? Contact the University Registrar’s Office at asenverify@jhu.edu

What other organizational or departmental events are occurring around Commencement?

A list of events occurring around Commencement is maintained on the Ceremonies and Events page. However, not all events are listed. Please email commencement@jhu.edu to have an event included.

Last updated September 25, 2019