Class of 2021 Commencement Celebrations

*University Commencement will take place on Saturday, May 22, 2021 for both Graduate and Undergraduate students.

*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.

Phase I - Main Ceremony

Saturday, May 22, 2021, 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

The RWU Graduate and 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, student address 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. 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. For information on the individual school ceremonies, please see the links below.

Phase II: Wave 1

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (followed by lunch):

School locations are to be determined.  Information to come as it is finalized.

Phase II: Wave 2

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (preceded by lunch)

School locations are to be determined.  Information to come as it is finalized.


Graduates may invite as many guests as they would like for Saturday's Commencement ceremonies. No tickets are required. Please note that Phase I, the Main Ceremony, does take place outdoors on the main athletic field with no tent.  We urge all guests to be prepared and dress accordingly for the weather. Comfortable shoes or flats are recommended.

*COVID Disclaimer - see at top of webpage

Regalia Distribution

Graduates Caps & Gowns (Regalia) are distributed through the Bookstore in Lower Commons.  You must be on the approved graduation list from the Registrar’s office to pick up your regalia. Students who owe the University are considered "not cleared" and cannot pick up their regalia until they meet with the Bursar's Office and make amends.  Upon doing this, the Bursar's Office will give the student a "CLEARED" note to give to the Bookstore in order to pick up their regalia. Regalia is not distributed until mid Spring semester.  Further details will be posted here!

Questions regarding Caps & Gowns?  Contact the Bookstore HERE.

Tassels and Cords

Tassels and cords are distributed by a graduates respective honor society or organization.  Graduates should make sure they contacted their respective supervisor or organization to secure their cords and have them prior to Commencement.

The only tassels given out on the morning of Commencement will be for high honors (summa cum laude -- 3.8 GPA, magna cum laude -- 3.6 GPA, and cum laude -- 3.4 GPA). Those graduates receiving high honors will have the honor listed on the name card they pick up when they enter the Fieldhouse. These honors are based on fall semester cumulative averages. Students must have completed at least 54 credits at RWU to be eligible to receive these honors. 


Students’ honors will be calculated based on their cumulative GPAs at the end of their final semester.  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. Honors tassels will be distributed by the Registrar’s Office. 

Questions? Contact the Registrar's Office HERE.

*Graduates may invite as many guests as they would like to Commencement. No tickets are required. The 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 ceremony does take 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

Please plan to arrive early. Graduates living on campus must park in Lot A or the parking garage only. 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 ceremony and receptions.

Commencement Parking Map

Fire Regulations

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

Prohibited Items

No large bags, balloons, signs, noisemakers, confetti, bullhorns, alcohol, and any other object and/or substance that would prove disruptive to your fellow guests will be allowed under the tent.


University policy prohibits bringing pets on campus grounds and in buildings unless it is a certified service animal accompanying their owner or an approved pet dog through the Dog in the Workplace Pilot Program for RWU Employees. The service animal must wear its credentials. (View full 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.


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 details to come. Stay tuned!

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.


If families plan on making reservations at a restaurant after commencement, we remind guests to allow time to get to your car and that traffic will be heavy.  We suggest you make your restaurant reservation from 6:00 p.m. on to allow ample time for travel. Please feel free to browse a list of recommended local area restaurants HERE.

The annual Commencement Raffle will be held from Feb 1st - Feb 28th and winners will be  announced on March 1st. Raffle tickets are 1 for $10 and 3 for $25 and can be purchased through University Tickets! (Link to come.)

Deluxe - 1 VIP parking space for commencement, 1 CBall ticket, 4 person picnic lunch, 4x6 picture frame, & 1 diploma frame

Premium - 1 VIP parking space for commencement, 1 CBall ticket & 1 diploma frame

Both these baskets have a value over $150.

Questions regarding the raffle?  Contact your Senior Class Officers HERE.

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 Graduate 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 or 401-254-3166 by May 1, 2021.

If you cannot find your answer on this webpage or need further help, please see the departments below to contact:

General Commencement InformationCommencement Office/Special Eventsevents@rwu.edu401-254-3166
Caps & Gowns, Rings, Frames, Graduation AnnouncementsBookstorewww.rwu.bncollege.com401-254-3036
Outstanding BillsBursar 401-254-3520
Lavender GraduationIntercultural Centergporcaro@rwu.edu401-254-3591
Commencement Lunches & TicketsDiningscolliton@rwu.edu401-254-3217
Parking & AccessibilityPublic Safetyparking@rwu.edu401-254-3703
Degree Applications, Graduation List, Name on Diploma, Address Change, Honors TasselsRegistrargraduationcoordinator@rwu.edu401-254-3151
Student Commencement Speaker ApplicationStudent Lifesbenevides@rwu.edu401-254-3042
Commencement Ball, Commencement FairStudent Programs & Leadershipclassof2021@g.rwu.edu401-254-3088