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Harvard University’s 368th Commencement Exercises

March-April 2019

Since 1642, with just nine graduating students, Harvard’s Commencement Exercises have brought together the community unlike any other tradition still observed in the University. Degree candidates with family and friends, faculty and administrators who supported them, and alumni from around the world are anticipated to participate in our 368th Commencement Exercises this spring. To accommodate the increasing number of people planning to attend, we ask that any interested readers carefully review the guidelines governing ticketing, regalia, security precautions, and other important details, which are available online at

Commencement Day Overview

The Morning Exercises begin when the academic procession is seated in Tercentenary Theatre. Three student orators deliver addresses, and the dean of each School introduces the candidates for their respective degrees, which the president then confers. Toward the conclusion of the ceremony the graduating seniors are asked to rise, and their degrees are conferred on them as a group by the president. Honorary Degrees are then conferred before the Exercises are adjourned.

Diploma-granting Ceremonies and Luncheons: Graduates and their guests return to their respective undergraduate Houses or graduate and professional Schools. Harvard and Radcliffe College alumni/ae who have celebrated their 50th Reunion are invited to join the Tree Spread luncheon, Harvard and Radcliffe Reunions gather for class-based luncheons, while all other alumni may pre-purchase tickets for boxed lunches at the Alumni Spread in Harvard Yard.

The Afternoon Program features an address by Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow and the Commencement speaker, Chancellor Angela Merkel. Officially called the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association, this program includes the Overseer and HAA director election results, presentations of the Harvard Medals, and remarks by the HAA president.

—The Harvard Commencement Office and The Harvard Alumni Association

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