Class of 2020 Commencement Celebrations

*PLEASE BE ADVISED: The Commencement format below is ONLY if our current health crisis is under control and the state of Rhode Island allows large gatherings. Any of the following Commencement related schedules, locations, capacity, number of guests allowed, meals, times, etc. are subject to change at any time due to the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19. The University continues to follow and must comply with the state guidelines and regulations for events, and will change the format of Commencement to follow the public health guidelines to ensure our students, faculty, staff and families are safe.
Please continue to visit this page for up to date information and changes to our commencement plan. 

Class of 2020 Celebration Schedule*

The RWU community is thrilled at the chance to bring our 2020 graduates back to campus for their very own Commencement celebrations!  We hope to be able to follow the schedule below come May.  Please understand that these events may change and new restrictions could apply.

Graduates MUST complete the RSVP form below to attend any of the scheduled events:

Saturday, May 22, 2021President's Class of 2020 ReceptionUniversity Residence6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 23, 2021Class of 2020 Commencement CelebrationBristol Campus9:30 a.m.

If you'd like to attend any of the events above, please complete the Registration form below.  If you are unable to attend and would like the official Commencement 2020 program book mailed to you, please fill out the first section of the Registration form.

Class of 2020 Registration Form

Class of 2020 Commencement Day

Phase I - Main Ceremony

Sunday, May 23, 2021, 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

The RWU Undergraduate Main Ceremony includes all schools and will take place on the Main Athletic Field on the Bristol Campus.  The ceremony will include the Academic Procession, the awarding of honorary degrees, the Keynote Commencement address, Undergraduate and Graduate Student addresses, and the granting of degrees. Tickets are not required.

For those that cannot attend in person, the ceremony will be live streamed HERE on Commencement day. 

Please note that the main ceremony does take place outdoors on the main athletic field with no tent rain or shine.  We urge all guests to be prepared and dress accordingly for the weather. Comfortable shoes or flats are recommended.

Phase II - School Ceremonies

Phase II of Commencement consists of individual school ceremonies and lunch taking place in two waves immediately following the Main Ceremony. At these individual school ceremonies, the graduates' names are announced and students are individually recognized. Please note:  the time gaps between ceremonies allow for processionals/recessionals at ceremony sites; navigating shuttles and foot traffic; eating lunch; graduates/faculty reporting for line-up 30 minutes prior to their individual school ceremonies; and friend/family/faculty meet-ups.

Phase II: Wave 1

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (followed by lunch):
(11:00 am – Students & Faculty report to their designated meet-up locations)

School of Social and Natural Sciences 
Location: Soccer Field tent

School of Humanities, Arts & Education
Location: Global Heritage Hall Tent

School of Architecture, Art & Historic Preservation 
Location: Quad Tent

University College 
Location: Campus Recreation Center, Gymnasium

Phase II: Wave 2

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (preceded by lunch)
(1:00 pm – Students & Faculty report to their designated meet-up locations)

Gabelli School of Business
Location: Soccer Field Tent

School of Justice Studies
Location: Global Heritage Hall Tent

School of Engineering, Computing & Construction Management
Location: Quad Tent


All students, faculty, and platform parties MUST report to their meetup location 30 minutes prior to their school ceremony.

Ceremony LocationMeetup Locations
Soccer Field TentSouth Soccer Field Green
Global Heritage Hall TentGHH Atrium
Quad TentSchool of Architecture, main level
GymnasiumLaw School Bistro

*Attending Commencement

Graduates may invite as many guests as they would like to the Commencement ceremonies. No tickets are required. Please note that Phase I, the Main Ceremony, will take place outdoors on the main athletic field with no tent rain or shine.  We urge all guests to be prepared and dress accordingly for the weather. Comfortable shoes or flats are recommended. The main ceremony and the individual school ceremonies will all be live streamed on our website for those guests unable to travel.

*COVID Disclaimer - see at top of webpage

If you did not have your regalia mailed to your home in Spring 2020, you will have an opportunity to have it shipped to you in Spring 2021.  Caps & Gowns are handled by the Bookstore and will post the date you can start retrieving them here on the website.

Cords and/or stoles are distributed by the respective program or department.  Please contact your advisor for details on specific cords.

Please note: Keep your regalia in good condition and in a safe place. Students are responsible for replacing their lost or damaged regalia in their possession.

Questions regarding cap & gown?  Contact the Bookstore HERE.

Students’ honors will be calculated based on their cumulative GPAs at the end of their final semester.  Honors tassels were mailed to graduates’ addresses with their diploma covers in October.  Please see the “Graduation with Honors” section under Academic Regulations and Policies in the Academic Catalog (click HERE)  for questions regarding the calculation of honors.

Questions about honors tassels? Contact the Registrar's Office HERE.

*Graduates may invite as many guests as they would like to CommencementThe gates to the main field where the Main Commencement Ceremony takes place open at 8:00 a.m. and seating is on a first come, first serve basis. It is recommended that guests arrive before 8:50 a.m. and are in their seats no later than 9:00 a.m. if they would like to be seated before the processional enters the field. While we encourage guests to arrive early, no one is allowed onto the field before 8:00 a.m.

Please, for the courtesy of others, there is no excessive seat saving.

Please note that the main ceremony takes place outdoors on the main athletic field with no tent.  We urge all guests to be prepared and dress accordingly for the weather.

*COVID disclaimer - see at top of webpage

Accommodations on Campus

Residential Life is able to offer some housing in the campus residential communities to graduates who are in need of a place to stay Saturday night.  Those interested in staying in the Residence Halls on Saturday night MUST complete the Class of 2020 Registration form at the top of this webpage. 


Please visit the University's Accommodations page for a full list of hotels and bed & breakfasts in the area.

Available Hotel Room Blocks under Roger Williams University Commencement:

Bristol Harbor Inn
259 Thames Street, Bristol RI, 02809

Ramada Hotel
213 Taunton Ave, Seekonk MA, 02771

Lunch & Concessions on Campus

Coffee and Beverage stations will be located at the C-Store, Hawk's Nest, Lower Commons, and the Global cafe for anyone wishing to purchase a beverage throughout the day.

Lunch will be provided starting at 11:00 am through 2:30 pm in the Rec Center Fieldhouse and the Commons. Students and guests can eat lunches at these locations, or take their lunch to go and eat anywhere on campus!  More information to come!

Dining Off Campus

If you are dining off-campus, it will take time for guests to get to their cars and traffic will be heavy. We recommend allowing travel time to any reservation you make. Please feel free to browse a list of recommended local area restaurants HERE. We recommend you check with the individual restaurant on any covid policy they may have in place. 

Please plan to arrive early. Guests and graduates arriving from off campus must enter through the North Campus road and park in the North Parking Lots (Lots C & D). No parking will be allowed in the lots surrounding the Campus Recreation Center.

Campus shuttles will run throughout the day to transport graduates and their guests to and from the ceremonies.

Commencement Parking Map

Fire Regulations

School Ceremonies: Fire regulations prohibit any guest to stand on the outskirts of tents. Everyone must be seated. Strollers should be placed along the back of the tent to keep aisles open for egress.

Prohibited Items

Large bags, balloons, signs, noisemakers, confetti, bullhorns, alcohol, and any other object and/or substance that would prove disruptive to your fellow guests will NOT be allowed at any ceremony.


Only Certified Service Animals accompanying their owner are permitted on Commencement Day. The service animal must wear its credentials. (View full pet policy HERE.)

    Professional Photography

    Island Photography will take the traditional picture as students receive their diploma as well as a still shot before students go on stage. Island Photography will contact graduates after commencement provided the student has given their contact information. For more information, please go to their website at: or call them at 800.869.0908

    An additional professional photographer will also be on site during and after the ceremony to take photos of graduates. These photos will be shared on the website after Commencement for families to view and download.

    Families are encouraged to take photos of their graduate before and after the ceremonies. No standing at seats and/or blocking aisles will be allowed during any ceremony.

    Accommodations for Graduates & Guests with Disabilities or Special Needs

    Every parking lot on campus has designated accessible parking spaces.  Public Safety will allow curbside drop off for those needing special assistance at any time before and after the Commencement ceremony.  The drop off point will be located at the circle drive between the Law School and Performing Arts Center.  

    If you or your guest require any additional accommodations to attend the ceremony, please contact the Commencement Office at events@rwu.edubefore May 1, 2021.  Requests made after this date may impact the university's ability to effectively provide reasonable accommodation.

    ASL Interpreting and Real-Time Captioning

    The Main Commencement ceremony will have ASL Interpreters on stage for the duration of the ceremony.  RWU will also have Live Real-time Captioning available. Captions can be accessed on your personal device by visiting the link provided here on the day of commencement. 

    General InformationCommencement Office/Special Events

    Caps & GownsBookstorewww.rwu.bncollege.com401-254-3036
    Commencement LunchesDiningscolliton@rwu.edu401-254-3217
    Parking & AccessibilityPublic Safetyparking@rwu.edu401-254-3703
    Diplomas & Honors TasselsRegistrargraduationcoordinator@rwu.edu401-254-3151