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FAQs Logistics

Will there be parking at the stadium?

Given the enormity of the event, parking in the Ryan field parking lot will be limited on the day of Commencement. In order to accommodate everyone and minimize traffic, Northwestern is providing shuttle bus service to and from Ryan Field. A full list and map of parking locations will be added to the Commencement Website in the near future.

When and where else can I park on campus?

Campus parking is open to all families and guests the week of Commencement (June 17-22). It is recommended that families and guests park in either the North or South Parking Garages. View the campus and shuttle map.

If I'm not here to pick up my cap and gown can I have a friend retrieve it for me?

You may pick up someone else’s cap and gown with a copy of their emailed receipt.

When do gates open for Commencement?

Gates open at 8:00 a.m. for Commencement guests to enter Ryan Field.

What happens if there is severe weather on the day of Commencement or Convocation?

Northwestern honors and celebrates the ritual of Commencement, and is excited to welcome families and guests to Northwestern to share in this moment with our students. Commencement is largely a ceremonial event; the individual school and program Convocations, managed and overseen by individual schools, are the ceremonies where student names are called and they cross the stage.

Commencement is a large event, with over 22,000 guest tickets issued, with approximately 3000 students walking in the event. Current construction limits our options for alternate locations for an event this large. As part of Commencement planning, significant work has been done in conjunction with the Northwestern University Police Department and the Office of Safety and Security on severe weather planning.

If it is simply raining and no severe weather is in the area, the ceremony will go on as planned. If severe weather is in the area, defined as weather that compromises the safety and security of some or all who attend, the options are to delay the start time, adjust portions of the ceremony, or cancel the ceremony. Other spaces on campus have been investigated as possible severe weather locations, and either are not large enough, nor are they equipped to handle an event at the size and scope of Commencement.

We receive daily weather reports and they are reviewed by administration and safety and security professionals.  These reports are far more accurate than those reported in the news or via weather apps. The frequency of these reports will increase on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, culminating in hourly and as-needed reports.

If the ceremony is changed, it will be announced via multiple communication platforms, including the Commencement App, Commencement website, Northwestern website, and Northwestern social media outlets – to let students, families, and guests know.

In the event that it does rain, the ceremony will occur as planned. Students, families, and guests should prepare for the weather and dress accordingly. For those who do not wish to sit in the rain, the ceremony will be streamed on-line with full captioning and it will be accessible via the Northwestern website.


What if my child gets to the stadium late for Commencement?

Degree candidates are expected to arrive at the stadium by 8:30 a.m. the morning of Commencement. Students who arrive late need to go to their gate location and check in with a Marshal.

If I am a Northwestern faculty member, can I walk with my child at Commencement?

We do not permit family members to walk the procession with their student.

Are parents allowed onto the field after the ceremony?

In order to ensure the safety of our guests, we cannot allow parents to meet their students on field following the conclusion of Commencement. Guests are welcome to reunite with their student after the event outside of the stadium.