Bowdoin Commencement Bowdoin Commencement

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Commencement held?
What will the weather be like? How should I dress?
Are tickets required for the Commencement ceremony?
What happens if the Commencement ceremony moves inside?

Where do students sit during the ceremony?
Where do familes and guests sit? What time should we arrive?
Where can I get something to eat or drink?
Where can I find restrooms?
Are shuttles available for guests needing assistance?
Where can I park?
Where do those with physical disabilities park?

Where can photographs be taken?
Will there be a professional photographer taking pictures?
Where can families meet graduates after the ceremony?
Will there be medical assistance available?

How do I access guest Wi-Fi?
What is the College alcohol policy?
Are pets allowed on campus?
What is the College doing to make Commencement "green?"

Where is Commencement held?

The Commencement ceremony, which lasts approximately an hour and a half, is held outside in front of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art under most weather conditions. If it’s raining, bring an umbrella and other rain gear. In the event of severe weather, the ceremony will be held in the Sidney J. Watson Arena.

What will the weather be like? How should I dress?

May weather in Maine can be extremely variable. Commencement guests who bring appropriate clothing for rain and cool temperatures as well as for warm weather will be well prepared. Remember that Commencement is planned for outside, so wear shoes suitable for walking on grass.

Are tickets required for the Commencement ceremony?

No tickets are needed for the outdoor ceremony, and you may bring as many guests as you wish. If the ceremony is moved inside, tickets will be required for seating in Watson Arena. Information regarding notification and details for an indoor ceremony will be shared in the spring mailing to families.

What happens if the Commencement ceremony moves inside?

Should severe weather necessitate moving the Commencement ceremony inside, each senior will be issued four tickets for seating in Watson Arena. Those without tickets may watch a livestream of the ceremony on a large screen in Farley Field House, located adjacent to Watson Arena. The decision to move inside will be made on Saturday morning and communicated to families via the Commencement website and notifications on the Commencement mobile app.

Where do students sit during the ceremony?

Seniors are seated in front of the stage and are in alphabetical order. As you face the stage, those whose last names begin with A-J sit on the right side; those whose last names begin with K-Z sit on the left.

Where do families and guests sit? What time should we arrive?

Families and guests of may sit in any areas not marked as reserved. Please ask an usher if you are unsure. We ask that all guests arrive and take their seats by 9:20 A.M. to view the Processional March.

Where can I get something to eat or drink?

Water and coffee stands are located around the perimeter of the Commencement seating area. Snacks and other beverages are available for purchase in the Bowdoin Express and the Café, located in the David Saul Smith Union.

Where can I find restrooms?

Men’s, women’s and handicap-accessible restrooms are located in Moulton Union, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, David Saul Smith Union, and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Additional men’s and women’s restrooms are located in Gibson Hall, Hubbard Hall, the Chapel and the Visual Arts Center (lower level). Gender inclusive restrooms are located in Moulton Union, Sargent Gym, David Saul Smith Union, Hawthorne Longfellow Library, Hubbard Hall and the Chapel.

Are shuttles available for guests needing assistance?

Golf carts, driven by volunteers, run on Friday beginning at 3:30 p.m. to shuttle guests needing assistance from the main campus to Baccalaureate and from the Lobster Bake to parking. On Saturday, golf carts run between 8:30-10:00 a.m. from North Camps Drive and in front of the Chapel to the Commencement ceremony. Following ceremony, both golf carts and larger shuttle buses are available to transport guests from the quad to the luncheon (buses pick up in front of Moulton Union; golf carts pick up in front of the Chapel) and from the luncheon to parking.

Where can I park?

All campus parking lots are open to Commencement guests. Public parking is allowed on Park Row in designated spots. There are also a large number of parking spaces at Watson Arena, convenient for Baccalaureate and meals held at Farley Field House.

Where do those with physical disabilities park?

Handicap parking spaces are designated in all parking areas. A large number of handicap spaces can be found on North Campus Drive and at Watson Arena. Please contact the Office of Events and Summer Programs at events@bowdoin.edu or 207-725-3433 if you have questions. To locate parking lots, view a Campus map.

Where can photographs be taken?

Photo areas are clearly marked near the stage next to graduate seating. While we understand that families want to take photos of this special event, we ask that you be considerate of others when doing so and that you respect requests to move or sit down.

Will there be a professional photographer taking pictures?

A professional photographer from GradImages will photograph each senior receiving their diploma. Proofs will be sent automatically to each student’s home address within approximately two weeks. If you prefer to receive digital proofs, please visit gradimages.com and click on Pre-Event Registration to sign up.

Where can families meet graduates after the ceremony?

Students follow the stage party down the center aisle for the recessional, marching toward the Chapel. Families and guests may meet graduates in the area between the Chapel and Massachusetts Hall.

Will medical assistance be available?

In the event of a medical emergency, please contact Bowdoin Security by dialing 3500 from any phone inside a Bowdoin building, 207-725-3500 from your mobile phone, or use an outdoor emergency phone (marked with a blue lamp). For minor medical problems, you may wish to visit the Mid Coast Walk-In Clinic, located at Brunswick Station. Mid Coast Hospital (207-729-0181) is also located a few miles from campus at 123 Medical Center Drive in Brunswick and has an emergency room.

How do I access Wi-Fi?

Bowdoin provides wireless access to guests of the College in all campus buildings as well as the athletic fields, Coastal Studies Center, and many outdoor spaces around campus.
1. Choose “BOWDOIN-GUEST” from the list of wireless networks on your computer or mobile device.
2. A registration page will automatically load. If it does not, open a web browser. If your browser does not immediately connect to the registration page, refresh your browser window.
3. Fill in the registration information. Guests are not required to have a Bowdoin ID, but you will need to enter your name and email address.
4. Once your registration is complete, click “Log In.”
5. Access to Bowdoin’s guest wireless will expire in 24 hours but can be renewed by following steps 1-4 above.

What is the College's alcohol policy?

The Bowdoin community is reminded that no one under the age of 21 may purchase, procure, transport, or consume alcoholic beverages. State law and College policy prohibit the public consumption of alcohol, and the College’s liquor license prohibits us from allowing guests to bring their own liquor into any College reception or dining event. Proper identification is required at all functions where alcohol is served. The College asks for your compliance.

Are pets allowed on campus?

Pets are prohibited in all campus buildings and at all dining events. Service animals are welcome.

What is the college doing to make Commencement "green?"

Sustainability is a core value at Bowdoin, and the College engages in pro-environmental behaviors, including waste reduction, recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, and energy conservation on an ongoing basis. During Commencement Weekend, Dining Service uses biodegradable cups, bowls, plates, and utensils for all outdoor meals, and 100 percent of Commencement luncheon waste is composted. Recycling bins are placed in outdoor areas, and energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs are used in all outdoor tents. Electricity use during Commencement Weekend is provided in part by Bowdoin’s 1.2 megawatt solar power complex, which includes approximately 4,420 solar panels at four major installations.