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, if the weather permits us to hold the ceremony outdoors.

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. Depending on any COVID restrictions, 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.

Vaccinations:

  • Being "fully vaccinated" means having the following:
    • Ages 12+:
      • (2) doses of Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna and (1) booster shot
      • (1) dose of Johnson & Johnson/Janssen and (1) booster shot
    • Ages 5-11:
      • (2) doses of Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna
    • Under the age of 5:
      • Since this age group is ineligible to be vaccinated, they may attend all Commencement Weekend events, but must wear a facial covering when not actively eating or drinking.
    • Other acceptable forms of vaccination are WHO/EUI authorized, including:
      • AstraZeneca/Oxford (Vaxzevria, SK-BIO, and Covishield
      • Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV and Covilo)
      • Sinovac (CoronaVac)
      • Nuvaxvoid
      • COVOVAX (Novavax formulation)
      • Spikevax
      • Bharat Biotech Covaxin
How are you checking vaccination statuses?
When all guests arrive to campus for Commencement Weekend, they must first check in at the Commencement Welcome Center, which will be located under the tent between Appleton and Hyde Halls (check the Commencement Weekend schedule for hours). All guests should be prepared to show proof of their vaccination status--either using the CLEAR app, or displaying their vaccination card (a photo of the card is OK.)

Once vaccination records have been verified, each guest will receive a special bracelet to wear throughout the weekend. This bracelet allows for indoor access to all events and meal functions. After receiving the bracelet, meal tickets may be picked up from Dining Services, who will have a booth at the Commencement Welcome Center.

Can a non-"fully vaccinated" guest attend any of the events at Commencement?
Any guest who is not fully vaccinated (including a booster), must take an observed antigen test at the Welcome Center tent upon arrival. Please email events@bowdoin.edu sign up for a timeslot. Test results take up to 15 minutes, and once confirmed negative, the guest will receive a special wristband and may participate in all Commencement events without restriction, including meal functions.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to leave campus and will not be permitted to attend any Commencement events or activities.

Is masking required? Which face masks meet the guidelines?
Masking is required at all indoor events. Masking is not required at outdoor events. Surgical, KN95, or equivalent (N95, KF-94, etc.) masks are acceptable.

Graduating seniors who test positive for COVID-19:

We expect that a few students will continue to test positive on the day of the Commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 28. If so, we will arrange for these students to receive their diplomas from President Rose that day.

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 28. 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 2023: May 27, 2023; Class of 2024: May 25, 2024; Class of 2025: May 24, 2025.