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.

Overview 

What are the plans for Commencement 2021? 

Our plans for an in-person ceremony for students on the steps of the Walker Art Building on Saturday, May 29, remain unchanged, and we remain confident that we can execute this plan while also keeping students and others at the College safe.  

Will seniors who are studying remotely be able to attend Commencement in person?
 

Yes. Remote seniors will be able to attend Commencement and participate in “Senior Days” activities after they receive their first antigen test on Wednesday, May 26.  

I completed my requirements after May 2020 and will be listed in the May 2021 Commencement program, but I would rather walk with my class in the 2020 Commencement ceremony--can I switch between the two? 
As noted in the Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook; "Students may take part in only one Commencement, and they are expected to complete all degree requirements before they participate in graduation exercises. Students with two or fewer credits remaining and who can expect to complete all requirements by the end of the following August may be allowed to participate in Commencement, but will not receive a diploma or have their degree conferred.

Students are required to declare their intended completion date and desired Commencement on their Intent to Graduate form provided in October of their senior year. This serves as the student's contract for completion. 

Due to there being a Commencement in May of 2021 and a 2020 Commencement celebration in August, please note the following: 

  • Students who have not been listed in a prior Commencement program (including 2020), and  
    • Have the minimum 30 credits to walk or 
    • Have the 32 credits required and have met all academic requirements for the degree may walk in the 2021 Commencement ceremony. 
  • Students declared this intention in October 2021 and must meet the minimum requirements by the May 2021 Commencement exercises. 
    • Students are required to declare their intended completion date and desired Commencement on their Intent to Graduate form provided in October of their senior year. This serves as the student's contract for completion. 
  • Students who were listed in the 2020 Commencement program are only eligible to participate in the August Commencement celebration. 

I took a leave of absence due to COVID-19 and reported on my Intent to Graduate form that I would complete in a future semester and walk in Commencement in a future year. Is there anything I can do to walk with my class in 2021, even though I will not have the required 30 credits to walk in Commencement? 
No. As noted in the Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook, a minimum of 30 credits are required to walk in a Commencement ceremony. We are not making exceptions to this rule since students understood this outcome when choosing to take a personal leave of absence.  

Students may take part in only one Commencement, and they are expected to complete all degree requirements before they participate in graduation exercises. Students with two or fewer credits remaining, and who can expect to complete all requirements by the end of the following August may be allowed to participate in Commencement, but will not receive a diploma or have their degree conferred. 

Students are required to declare their intended completion date and desired Commencement on their Intent to Graduate form provided in October of their senior year. This serves as the student's contract for completion. 

Will I get anything officially stating what my degree status is? 
Students who indicated they would walk and/or complete in May 2021 on their Intent to Graduate form and are currently enrolled at Bowdoin in Spring 2021, will receive notification in late April from the Office of the Registrar regarding their degree status.  

When will I receive my diploma? 
As was previously noted in an e-mail from President Rose, diplomas will be mailed as soon as possible after the May 2021 commencement ceremony. Packages will be sent by USPS. Due to the current health crisis, the company that produces your diploma (along with those for many schools) is working with limited staff which impacts their ability to produce and deliver them. Your diploma could take up to four weeks or longer to be delivered for this reason and due to USPS delays. 

Students who are graduating will be asked, in April, to provide their mailing address for the diploma mailing. As with all external mailings, it will be addressed to the student's legal name.  

Pre–Commencement 

Can graduating seniors go off campus on the days leading up to Commencement (e.g., have dinner with the families in Portland, go to faculty or staff members’ homes, go to the beach, go hiking)? 
 
No. The guidelines outlined in the Spring 2021 Campus Community Agreement will remain in effect until Commencement.
 
Can family members and friends of graduating seniors visit campus prior to Saturday, May 29? 

No visitors—including family members, friends, current non-graduating students (even if they were in the testing protocol this semester) or others—may be on campus prior to Saturday, May 29.  

What days do graduating seniors need to have COVID-19 tests in order to participate in “Senior Days” and Commencement activities? 

  • Tuesday, May 25: all senior students currently in our testing protocol (i.e., with campus privileges) will receive a Broad PCR test at Morrell Gym between 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Students will receive a wrist band, which will clear them for access to campus on Tuesday and Wednesday. 
  • Wednesday, May 26: all remote seniors who want early access to campus will receive a rapid antigen test (done via nasal swab) in order to be cleared for participation in any events that day. Testing will be available between 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. at Morrell Gym. Upon testing, students will receive a wrist band confirming their campus clearance. 
  • Thursday, May 27: all graduating seniors (on-campus and remote) will receive a rapid antigen test in order to be cleared for campus access and participation in any events. Testing will run from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Farley Field House, no sign-up necessary.  
  • Friday, May 28: all graduating seniors (on-campus and remote) are expected to sign up for and get a rapid antigen test at Farley Field House (slots available from 11:00-4:00 p.m.; you will receive an official invitation to sign up in CampusGroups). 

Do graduating seniors still need to self-monitor through CampusClear and report any symptoms for the time between the end of finals and Commencement? 

Yes. Graduating seniors still need to self-monitor through CampusClear and report any symptoms through Commencement. 

What happens if a graduating senior tests positive for COVID-19 in the days leading up to Commencement? Will they be quarantined or isolated? Will they be allowed to leave with their families before the end of their quarantine or isolation? 
Students on campus will not be required to complete their quarantine or isolation on campus, but the College will house them if necessary.

Will there be a lobster bake for graduating students? 
Yes, a lobster bake for graduating seniors is scheduled for Thursday, May 27, at 5:30 p.m. 

Commencement Tickets and Seating 

Is there a limit on how many guests graduating seniors may invite to the Commencement ceremony? 
The is no longer a limit on the number of guests graduating seniors may invite to attend Commencement if the weather permits us to hold the ceremony outdoors.  

What happens if the weather is bad and the Commencement ceremony must be held in Watson Arena?  
The previously announced limit of two guests per graduating student will go into effect, so graduating seniors should keep their two tickets for that possibility. 

Commencement Ceremony 

Will graduating seniors have to wear face coverings during the Commencement Exercises?  
Face coverings will be required during Commencement, regardless of whether the ceremony is held outdoors on the Quad or, in the case of extreme weather, inside Watson arena.
 
Will guests be required to wear face coverings and stay physically distanced at the ceremony? 
Guest will be required to wear face coverings during Commencement, but they will not be required to stay physically distanced. Face covering will be provided for those who do not have them.
 
Will there be a section of physically-distanced seating available at the Commencement ceremony? 
Yes, there will be a section of distanced seating available on the Quad for those who prefer to remain physically distanced from others. 
 
What is happening during the Commencement ceremony? Is there a procession? What other changes to a “normal” Commencement ceremony are there? 
Graduating seniors will process from Baxter House to their seats in front of the Museum, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Some elements of the ceremony will be conducted remotely, such as the awarding of honorary degrees, but much of the program will remain the same.  
 
Will the Commencement ceremony be livestreamed so that people not able to attend may watch it?
Yes. The Commencement ceremony will be livestreamed at 2021commencementlive.bowdoin.edu. A guide to the full Commencement 2021 virtual experience is available here.

Will the livestreamed event be recorded so it can be viewed later? 
Yes. The livestreamed event will be recorded and available for viewing beginning the day after Commencement. 

Will the in-person and virtual Commencement ceremony be accessible for people with disabilities? 
The in-person and virtual Commencement ceremony will be accessible for people with disabilities. 

Will there be a professional photographer taking pictures? 

A professional photographer from GradImages will photograph each senior after they walk across the Museum steps. The College will cover the cost of a photograph of each graduate shot by our professional photographer (additional details will be provided by the Office of Events and Summer Programs).

May guests approach the Walker Art Building during the Commencement ceremony to take photos?
We ask that guests at the ceremony refrain from approaching the Walker Art Building for any reason during the ceremony.

What restroom facilities will be available to students and guests during Commencement? 
Temporary restroom facilities will be provided along South Campus Drive. 
 
Will printed programs be available at the Commencement ceremony? 
Yes. Printed programs will be distributed at the Commencement ceremony. 
 
Will I be able to see the ceremony if my seats are far away from the stage? 
There will be two large viewing screens set up on the quad to ensure that all guests attending Commencement will be able to view the stage and ceremony. 
 
When does the College decide whether to move Commencement inside due to severe inclement weather? How will the College let graduating seniors and their families know? 
The College makes a determination about the location of the ceremony very early in the morning of Commencement day. Graduating seniors and families will be notified of any change by email, and there will be an announcement on the homepage of bowdoin.edu
 
Where do guests and graduating seniors pick up their boxed lunches after the Commencement ceremony? 
Graduating seniors and their guests can pick up a bagged lunch in a tent behind the Farley Field House after the Commencement ceremony until 2:00 p.m.  

Other 

Will guests be permitted inside College facilities? 
Guests and others who are not part of the College’s COVID-19 testing program will not be permitted inside College facilities, including residence halls; temporary restroom facilities will be provided along South Campus Drive. 
 
Are family members allowed in the dorms and College houses to help move students out following Commencement? 
Family members and any other individuals outside of our testing protocol are not permitted to enter residences to help with packing and moving students’ items. 
 
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 29. 
 
Will the Bowdoin College Museum of Art or Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum be open to graduating seniors and/or their families during the Commencement weekend? 

No, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum will not be open during the Commencement weekend. 
 
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  store.bowdoin.edu, or by calling 1-800-524-2225. 

Will the Bowdoin store on campus be open during the Commencement weekend? 
The Bowdoin Store will be set up in a tent on the Quad during the Commencement ceremony. 
 
Where can I find information about what local COVID-19 restrictions will be in effect for my trip? 

Information about COVID-19 restrictions in Maine can be found on the Maine CDC website