Frequently Asked Questions

This list of Frequently Asked Questions will be updated regularly to address questions from graduates and family members. In the interim, please email events@bowdoin.edu with any immediate questions.

Commencement Ceremony, Tickets and Seating 

Where is Commencement held?
The Commencement ceremony, which lasts approximately two hours, is held outside in front of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art under most weather conditions. If it is 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.

Are tickets required? Is there a limit on how many guests graduating seniors may invite to the Commencement ceremony? 
There is no limit on the number of guests graduating seniors may invite to attend Commencement Weekend. Tickets to the Commencement ceremony will be required in the event of severe weather. Tickets will also be required to the Lobster Bake on Friday night and the Commencement Luncheon on Saturday afternoon (more details to come.)

Where do families and guests sit? What time should we arrive?
Families and guests 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 9:15 a.m. to view the Commencement procession.

Where do graduating seniors sit during the ceremony?
Seniors are seated in front of the stage in white chairs and in alphabetical order according to their last name. As you face the stage, seniors with the last name starting with A-K sit on the right side and the seniors with the last name starting with L-Z sit on the left.

What will the weather be like? How should I dress?
May weather in Maine can be extremely variable. Plan to bring clothing appropriate for rain and cool temperatures, as well as for warm weather. Remember that we plan for an outdoor ceremony, so wear shoes suitable for walking on wet grass.

What happens if the weather is inclement and the Commencement ceremony must be held inside Watson Arena?  
The decision to move inside will be made by 6:00 a.m. on Commencement morning and communicated to families and guests via the Bowdoin and Commencement websites, through email, and notifications on the Commencement mobile app. TICKETS WILL BE REQUIRED and will need to be claimed by the graduating senior to disperse to their guests. Tickets will be limited up to four per graduating senior (more details will be released in the Spring.) Those unable to attend the ceremony may view the event through the live stream at Bowdoin Live.

Will the live-streamed ceremony be recorded so it can be viewed later? 
Yes. The ceremony will be recorded and available for viewing beginning the day after Commencement on Bowdoin's YouTube channel.

Will Commencement Weekend be accessible for people with disabilities? 
Yes, all of our events will be accessible. We will have a limited amount of wheelchairs available to reserve. After March 1, please email events@bowdoin.edu or call the Events Office at 207-725-3433 to reserve a wheelchair. Golf carts and shuttle busses will be available to transport guests needing assistance from the main campus to Watson Arena/Farley Field House and back. For more information, please visit our Accessibility page.

Will there be a professional photographer taking pictures? 

Professional photographers from GradImages will photograph each senior receiving their diploma on the Museum Terrace and with their diploma as they come off the stage. Proofs will be sent automatically to each graduate approximately two weeks following Commencement.

COVID-19, VACCINATIONS & REQUIREMENTS

Bowdoin's COVID-19 resource page.

Can a non-"fully vaccinated" guest attend any of the events at Commencement?
Yes, the campus is open to all individuals. However, any guest who is not fully vaccinated must wear a mask at indoor events (see "Is masking required?")

Is masking required? Which face masks meet the guidelines?
Masking is only required at indoor events for those guests who are not vaccinated. Surgical, KN95, or equivalent (N95, KF-94, etc.) masks are acceptable.

Will the ceremony be streamed live for those unable to attend?
Yes, the Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies, along with the Phi Beta Kappa, Seniors' Concert, and honorand talks will all be streamed live at www.bowdoin.edu/live.

OTHER

When do graduating seniors need to be completely moved out of the dorms? 
Graduating seniors should plan to vacate their rooms by 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, 2023. If you have questions or concerns regarding the move out process, please contact The Office of Residential Life at 207-725-3225.

How do I find lodging options for Commencement weekend?
We strongly recommend making arrangements for overnight accommodations as early as possible; rooms and rentals book quickly. For information on local restaurants or accommodations, please visit the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce or the Brunswick Downtown Association websites.
 
Where may I purchase Commencement gifts? 

The Bowdoin Store sells Bowdoin College diploma frames, class rings, and other gifts. Items can be purchased online at The Bowdoin Store, or by calling 1-800-524-2225. 

Are pets allowed on campus?
Pets are prohibited inside all campus buildings and at all dining events. Service animals are welcome.

When will future Commencements be held?
The Commencement ceremony is always held on the Saturday before Memorial Day (Memorial Day Weekend.)
Class of 2024: May 25, 2024; Class of 2025: May 24, 2025; Class of 2026: May 25, 2026.