Commencement FAQs

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Help! I forgot to order my Commencement regalia (cap, gown, hood, etc.)!
If you have not yet ordered your academic regalia (cap, gown, etc.) and plan to participate in Commencement, please contact the bookstore manager Denis Korelov ( or 510-879-9200 ext. 9287) at your earliest opportunity. All grads MUST have the appropriate academic regalia in order to participate in Commencement.

How do I order my Commencement/Graduation announcements?
Go to, select Samuel Merritt University from the drop down list, and follow the prompts to find the announcement for your academic program. Announcements take 2-3 weeks for delivery.

Will my family and friends need tickets for the ceremony? If so, how many tickets will each graduate receive?
Due to the large number of graduates in the Fall tickets will be required to enter the theatre. Each graduate will receive 4 tickets. You will not be permitted into the theatre without a ticket. 

The Spring morning ceremony will require tickets for entry. You will not be permitted into the theatre without a ticket.

The Spring afternoon ceremony will require tickets for entry due to the large number of graduates. Each graduate will receive 4 tickets. You will not be permitted into the theatre without a ticket.

Will there be a rehearsal for the ceremony?
The Fall ceremony will not have a rehearsal. 

May rehearsals will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at The Paramount Theatre. Rehearsal time for Nursing is 10:00 AM and Doctoral and Bachelors will be at 12:00 PM. 

How long will the ceremony last?
The Fall ceremony (1:00 PM) will last two to two and a half hours. 

The Masters and Doctoral ceremony (9:30 AM) will last approximately an hour and a half to two hours. The ceremony for School of Nursing, Doctoral, Masters and Baccalaureate graduates (1:30 PM) will last about two to two and a half hours.

Will there be a professional photographer at Commencement?
Yes. During the ceremony, graduates will be photographed in their regalia while being hooded and/or shaking hands with the President. The photographer may also take informal pictures of the graduates outside the Theatre before and after the ceremony. The photographer will contact graduates directly by email with information on how to view proofs and order pictures.

Where do I find directions to and/or parking information for The Paramount Theatre?
Please click here for directions and parking information on The Paramount Theatre's website.

Is there any information about Commencement I should pass along to my guests?
Please refer your guests to the "Commencement Information for Family and Friends" page.

Are there special arrangements for guests in wheelchairs or with mobility limitations?
Contact Veronica Paniagua in the Office of Academic Affairs ( or 510-879-9200 ext. 7373) at least one week prior to Commencement to make arrangements for special seating in the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) section of the venue for guests with disabilities/mobility limitations. Please note that seating in the ADA section of the Theatre is limited and your entire party may not be able to sit there. The guest needing the ADA access will be permitted to have one other member of their party sit with them in the ADA section.

Will there be any kind of reception for graduates and their guests following Commencement?
Due to space and time limitations, the University does not host a reception at the Theatre following Commencement. However, individual academic programs/departments often organize their own reception or party at other venues to celebrate graduation. Please contact your program Dean, Chair or Director to find out if a reception is being planned.

What is the difference between "Graduation" and "Commencement"?
Completion of the academic requirements for a given degree is referred to as Graduation. The celebration marking this achievement is Commencement. Participation in the Commencement ceremony does not guarantee graduation, nor is graduation necessarily a prerequisite for participation in Commencement.

I am not planning to participate in the Commencement ceremony and don't want my academic regalia. Do I still have to pay the "Graduation Fee"?
Yes. The graduation fee, which is charged to all students in their final term at the University, will be assessed even if you do not participate in Commencement. In addition to regalia, the fee covers the cost of other graduation related expenses. Please refer to the "Graduation Procedures" information in the 2018-2019 Catalog and Student Handbook for more details about the graduation fee.

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