University Commencement

Phase I - Main Ceremony

Saturday, May 16, 2020, 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, 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 rain or shine.  We urge all guests to be prepared and dress accordingly for the weather. Comfortable shoes and 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 TentLibrary Lobby
GymnasiumLaw School Bistro


Attending Commencement

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 rain or shine.  We urge all guests to be prepared and dress accordingly for the weather. Comfortable shoes and flats are recommended.

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.

A full campus map will be added to the website soon.

Ceremony Seating

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. No tickets are required.

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

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

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 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.


    Commencement Flowers Inc., a professional florist, will be on hand before and during the Commencement Ceremony. They will be located near the front entrance to the tent on the field. For your convenience, you can pre-purchase and reserve flowers ahead of time and have them available for pick-up at Commencement. Please visit their website at for more information.


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

    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 at different locations on campus. Students and guests can eat lunches at these locations, or take their lunch to go and eat anywhere on campus!  Each graduating student will receive three (3) complimentary lunch tickets upon completing their senior survey.  Additional lunch tickets ($9.00/per lunch ticket) will be available to purchase online for all guests on the website soon! Students will also receive this information.

    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.

    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 or 401-254-3166before May 1, 2020.  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.