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Student Email Reminders

June 16, 2020

Dear Prospective Graduate,

Congratulations! Although this has been a challenging spring, you have accomplished so much in your time at Northwestern. We hope you will take time to celebrate on Friday during the 162nd Commencement ceremony. The University will confer your hard-earned degree, which is truly a recognition of your accomplishments, and the ceremony aims to match this outstanding achievement.

Friday will be a monumental day for many reasons, especially given the events of recent weeks. Because Friday is Juneteenth, we know some of you will commemorate this important holiday as well. Others will take part in the Million Man March planned for downtown Chicago or in other marches across the country or around the world. Part of your journey at Northwestern has been to find your voice. Making it heard on important issues is crucial at this time.

We believe our Commencement speaker, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, embodies these principles as well. A trailblazer who has broken barriers and expanded our sense of possibilities, Mayor Lightfoot is a strong voice on racial disparities amid the COVID-19 pandemic and recently created the Chicago Resiliency Fund to help those who did not qualify for federal stimulus funding.

We have heard your feedback about our virtual ceremony, and we are grateful to those of you who have reached out to us. We value and encourage activism, and we respect your lived experiences. We have listened closely to your thoughts as we work to make the virtual Commencement ceremony meaningful and worthy of you. Among our most important Northwestern values are those that encourage us to listen, evaluate and challenge thoughts, beliefs and actions — and continue the hard conversations that make academic freedom so important, both here and in the greater world.

With that in mind, here are reminders about engaging in your virtual Commencement experience:

Plan Your Day: Last week, you received an email from your school with information for how attend Commencement virtually. Information was sent only to you; please invite your loved ones to watch the ceremony by sharing the link. If watching at 11 a.m. Central Time is not an option, the ceremony will be posted online to view after the ceremony airs. You can also watch from the Commencement web page. You will receive one more email from your school later this week. After Commencement ends, the full ceremony will be posted, as will individual segments of the ceremony, on the Commencement website

Wear Your Regalia: For those of you who ordered regalia, regalia is made-to-order, and started shipping June 1, 2020. Packages may be delayed due to forces outside our control. If you did not receive an order confirmation email, please check your spam/junk folder. If you still do not see the confirmation, please send an email to the Commencement Office, and for reference, have your order number ready.

Share Your Authentic Northwestern Experiences: 

If you have any questions, please contact the Commencement Office at

We look forward to hosting you at the virtual Commencement. Once again, congratulations. 

Kelly Schaefer, Ph.D. 
Jeremy Schenk, Ed.D. 

Commencement Chairs

This letter is being sent to everyone who has been approved by the Registrar’s office for participation in the 2020 ceremony. Receipt of this letter does not imply confirmation of your eligibility to graduate. 


Previous 2020 Email Reminders

June 5, 2020

Dear Prospective Graduate and Families,

As we near the end of what has been an incredibly challenging quarter, please know that we are thinking of you and how we can make your virtual Commencement memorable and reflective of the incredible work you have done in your years at Northwestern. We are just two weeks from Commencement, a recognition of your achievement in which we will confer your degree, which you have worked tirelessly to attain.

We know that many of you are struggling right now, under the weight of the ongoing pandemic and in the wake of the horrific killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers, as well as the protests that have followed. This continues to reflect our country’s struggle with a long history of racism. We are hopeful that Commencement can serve as an opportunity to come together as a Northwestern community and that your weekend of recognition can provide a reason to be proud of your accomplishments amid these difficult times.

To help make this day go smoothly, please review the following checklist in order to best prepare for your virtual Commencement experience:

Submit Your Accessibility Requests

Northwestern University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for all events and programs. Accommodations such as sign language interpreters, captioning, software compatible with assistive technology and presentation materials in alternate formats will be provided upon request. Please contact the Commencement Office at or (847) 491-3600 by Friday, June 12, to request an accommodation. Every reasonable effort will be made to implement accommodations in an effective and timely manner.

Join the Event

Commencement is just one part of your graduation experience. 

  • Plan to send the ceremony link, which you will receive via email from your schools by the end of next week, to your friends and family. If watching at 11 a.m. CDT is not an option, the ceremony will be posted online to view at any time. 
  • Order graduation keepsakes for this important milestone from the bookstore.

Wear Your Regalia

For those of you who ordered regalia, it is made-to-order and started shipping June 1. You will be receiving an email, if you have not already, with tracking information. Packages may be delayed due to street closures related to the ongoing civil unrest. If you did not receive an order confirmation email or tracking email, please check your spam/junk folder. If you still do not see anything, please send an email to staff in the University Bookstore to obtain your tracking number.

Share Your Authentic Northwestern Experiences

  • Share on Instagram and Twitter with #NU2020. You may see your posts featured before our Commencement ceremony begins. 
  • We invite you to participate in creating a number of photo mosaics that will be used to honor the Class of 2020. Add pictures by using the aforementioned hashtag, #NU2020, or by uploading pictures to the online portal. Photo Mosaics could take the form of the arch, spring quarter experiences, a four-year retrospective –- we want to see you and for you to be seen.

Share More Ideas

Most importantly, we continue to collect input and feedback; the commencement staff wants to hear from you about how to honor your time at Northwestern and your engagement with our community. Please write to us at the Commencement Office email address,, with more of your ideas, thoughts and concerns. We hope to hear from you. 

We hope you are healthy and safe, and we look forward to hosting you at the virtual Commencement. All the best as you complete finals and final projects. Once again, congratulations on your pending achievement, and we look forward to recognizing you. 

Kelly Schaefer, Ph.D.
Jeremy Schenk, Ed.D. 
Commencement Chairs 

May 1, 2020

Dear graduating students,

On April 22, I wrote announcing that I will get back to you with more information regarding our virtual University commencement on June 19, and on our plans to hold an in-person, on-campus graduation event in the future. I asked you to share your ideas, and I have received many thoughtful replies.

We intend to ensure that both the virtual commencement and in-person ceremony offer you and your loved ones the full graduation experience. Both events will allow us to honor your extraordinary accomplishments. Some of you are first-generation college graduates. Others are triple-purple grads with multiple Northwestern degrees. All of you are cherished members of the worldwide Northwestern family.

Here are some details about our plans for the virtual commencement this spring and the in-person graduation ceremony, which will take place in June 2021:

Virtual Commencement

As we’ve done for 161 years prior, our administration and trustees will recognize your accomplishments across our many disciplines. Your degrees will be conferred on June 19, 2020, at 11 a.m. CT, which reflects a time change to accommodate those students on the West Coast. I realize that some of you will have obligations next spring that might make it difficult to attend the in-person graduation event, and others may find it difficult to travel at that time, especially those living overseas. That is why we intend to make this virtual ceremony every bit as rich and meaningful as possible.

We’ll have a full roster of speakers, including some of your student peers, and we will be conferring honorary degrees on trailblazers in a number of fields, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who will be our featured speaker.  

Our schools will be in touch with you soon regarding their own plans surrounding commencement.

Spring 2021 In-Person Graduation Ceremonies

Public-health experts have suggested that it may be some time before it is safe to hold large-scale public gatherings, but we know that an in-person event is incredibly important to our students and families, and is essential for our community. We believe that the most responsible way to hold a top-notch ceremony, to recognize you individually and as a member of the Class of 2020, is to schedule it close to next year’s graduation ceremonies.

We will invite all 2020 graduates back to campus to celebrate your accomplishments in June 2021. We will recognize you as a class throughout Graduation Weekend —honoring graduate students during a convocation ceremony, and undergraduates with a stand-alone graduation ceremony distinct from celebrations of the Class of 2021. We will confirm a date as public-health guidance becomes clear, but we anticipate holding it Saturday, June 12, 2021.


Please make sure to visit our regalia page on our commencement website. There, you can order your own regalia, which Northwestern is providing for free this year in response to your requests. They will be yours to wear on June 19, to bring back to campus next June for your in-person graduation ceremony, and to keep forever. Please order them by the end of the day on Sunday, May 10. The Northwestern Bookstore will make every effort to ensure your regalia arrives before the June 19 ceremony.


We will mail your diploma to your home address after commencement, along with any honor cords you may have earned. To ensure delivery of these items, please log into your CAESAR profile to verify your current address is correct.

Finally, if you have any questions related to commencement, please contact the Commencement Office via email, at, or by phone, at (847) 491-3600. To follow Northwestern updates on COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 information page.

I look forward to sharing these graduation experiences with you. I hope that this once-in-a-lifetime moment will be a twice-in-a-lifetime one. 


Morton Schapiro
President and Professor

March 23, 2020

Dear Prospective Graduate,

In these unprecedented times, we are looking forward to the celebration of Commencement, knowing that it is important to you and your families, as well as to the faculty, staff, and administration who have walked alongside you through your Northwestern journey. This is a difficult time for us all, but as President Schapiro has pledged, we will do our very best to honor you and your accomplishments in the most meaningful way possible.

We will align preparations for Northwestern's 162nd Annual Commencement ceremony on June 19, 2020 with the University’s assessment of returning to on-campus instruction. All decisions will be made in conjunction with the university's response schedule after April 17th, 2020.

Northwestern University is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak (commonly known as coronavirus) to best advocate for the health and safety of our campus community. To best protect our community members, Northwestern is evaluating all upcoming events, including the 162nd Commencement, to determine all necessary precautions that must be taken.

  • We are delaying the release of tickets until after the University's April 17th assessment of the situation for the 2020 Commencement and School Convocations.
  • Regalia ordering will also align with the University's decision-making process.
  • Shipping will be available for students who would like to order their regalia to an off-campus address, rather than the traditional on-campus pick-up.
Undergraduates with Financial Need
  • Financial Aid covers the full cost of caps and gowns for graduating undergraduate students with financial need. Students who qualify will receive this funding in their Northwestern account. This will also cover the cost of shipping.
Further Updates
If you have any questions related to Commencement, please contact the Commencement Office via:


Kelly Schaefer, PhD
Jeremy Schenk, PhD

Commencement Co-Chairs

Note: This letter is being sent to students who earned degrees in Fall 2019 and potential candidates for degrees in Winter 2020, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020. It is important to understand that receipt of this letter does not imply confirmation of your eligibility to graduate.

January 28, 2020

Dear 2020 Degree Candidates:
I am pleased to announce that Northwestern University will hold its One Hundred and Sixty-Second Annual Commencement at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, June 19, 2020 at Ryan Field.  We look forward to welcoming you, your family members, and friends who have supported you during your time at Northwestern, all in celebration of your achievements.

As you plan for the 2020 Commencement Weekend, we want to make you aware of a few things:
  • Each participating degree candidate will be allocated 10 guest tickets for the ceremony held at Ryan Field.
  • Tickets will be available beginning Monday, March 23, 2020.

Please note: In case of severe weather, the ceremony may be altered. This could include a delay in the start time, moving the ceremony to a different time in the weekend schedule, or some other accommodation. More information concerning severe weather plans for Commencement will be available on the Commencement website.

I invite you to attend the President's Reception, scheduled for Thursday, June 18, at 11:30 a.m., and the Interfaith Baccalaureate Service that afternoon, from 4 to 5 p.m. No tickets are required for these events.
Individual school convocations, where graduates are recognized by name, follow the University Commencement ceremony at various times on Friday, June 19, and Saturday, June 20. Convocation information will be sent to graduating students by their respective schools, and questions concerning convocations should be directed to the individual school offices

The Commencement website offers many more details and helpful information. If you have specific questions regarding Commencement, please contact the University Commencement Office at or by phone at 847-491-3600. 

I look forward to celebrating with you at Northwestern University’s Commencement.


Morton Schapiro
President and Professor

(This letter is being sent to students who earned degrees in Fall 2019 and have been reported to the Office of the Registrar as potential candidates for degrees in Winter 2020, Spring 2020 and Summer 2020. It is important to understand that receipt of this letter does not imply confirmation of your eligibility to graduate.)