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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.  Please wait for updated parking maps


What security measures will be in place?

Measures will be in place for individual and community safety and security as we welcome you, your family, and your guests to campus. During your time on campus, you may encounter uniformed officers directing traffic or monitoring metal detectors at entrances, security personnel will be checking bags, and staff volunteers will be inside and outside of venues to help you with way-finding and answer questions.


When and where else can I park on campus?

Campus parking is open to all families and guests the week of Commencement (June 18-21). It is recommended that families and guests park in either the North or South Parking Garages. View the updated shuttle maps with addresses. (will be updated for 2020 in the fall)


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

You may have someone else pick up your cap and gown with their name, a copy of your emailed receipt, and the graduates Net ID.


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, typically hosting 20,000 guests and approximately 2,500 graduates. 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 move the ceremony to an alternate location as planned. 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.


Will there be accessible parking and transportation to Ryan Field?

Accessible parking is available in all campus parking lots and parking garages. Northwestern University provides complimentary shuttle bus service between the main Evanston campus and Ryan Field. Please note that all shuttle buses are fully accessible.


Can I use a personal handicapped tag to park at Ryan Field for the Commencement ceremony?

A valid personal handicapped tag can be used to park in the accessible lots at Ryan Field and at all campus parking lots.


Where do I drop off my guests with limited physical mobility at Ryan Field?

 The accessible drop-off is located at the south end of Ryan Field at Gate K.