Frequently Asked Questions (2021)

graduating student.

On this page:

How long is the ceremony?

The ceremony will start promptly at 9:00 a.m. and will conclude by 11:00am.

Does Social Work have its own ceremony?

Yes - all programs offered in the SSW graduate together, including the interdisciplinary degree programs. All programs are recognized separately and every student walks and is hooded separately. All students have their names announced and are ordered by degree program, but are not necessarily ordered alphabetically. For those participating remotely, each graduate will have a slide appear with their photo and their name will be read. Remote participant recognition will take place after the in-person hooding concludes.

What are the COVID-19 Protocols? (For all students, guests, anyone attending)

All guests attending a commencement ceremony will need to show their ticket upon entry; graduates will be required to check in at registration.

All attendees must adhere to the following requirements on the day of the commencement ceremony:

- Complete the Daily Health Check that day.

- Bring photo ID and be prepared to demonstrate proof that you do not have COVID-19, through one of the below:

  • A negative result from a SARS-CoV-2 test taken before the event (within 72 hours for PCR or six hours for antigen). Documentation required is either the lab result in the UB surveillance testing registration app, a formal lab result, or a result in the New York State Excelsior Pass Wallet. 
    • Graduating Students, Faculty and Staff of Social Work: To get tested on campus and get the results back in time, you must get tested on Wednesday, May 12, between 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. No reservation is required. On-campus testing sites are located at the Student Union, Greiner Hall, Allen Hall and Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
      Visit the COVID-19 website for more information.
  • Proof of full vaccination. According to the CDC, that means at least two weeks have passed after the final dose of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine series was received. Documentation required is either the vaccination certificate (card) or the vaccination pass in the New York State Excelsior Pass Wallet.
  • Full recovery from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis within 90 days. Documentation required is a positive prior test result or completed isolation order. Note: individual must be past required COVID-19 isolation period of 10 days in order to attend.

- Wear an appropriate face covering over your nose and mouth at all times while on campus.

- Maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance between yourself and anyone outside your party at all times.

Guests will be limited to parties of two when seated to view the ceremony.

Children ages 3 and up will require a ticket and need to follow the COVID protocols listed above.

Where do my guests park?

Governer and Jarvis Lots on White Road. There will be signs directing guests where to park - including disabled parking.

How many tickets am I allowed?

Graduates are gauranteed 1 guest ticket, but will be able to request up to a total of 2 guest tickets as long as tickets remain available.  

Is the Commencement Pavillion handicapped accessible?

Yes. It is important for people with special needs to arrive early enough to facilitate seating. Only one companion can sit in the accessible aisle with the person in a wheelchair.

What items are prohibited? (for guests and students)

  • Large bags.
  • Backpacks.
  • Umbrellas (except the small, collapsible kind).
  • Laser Objects.
  • Weapons.
  • Alcohol.
  • Illegal drugs and/or related paraphernalia.
  • Signs/sticks.
  • Flags/banners.
  • Balloons.
  • Beach balls.
  • Fireworks or explosives.
  • Voice amplifiers.
  • Noise-making devices.
  • Animals (except in the case of service animals trained to perform needed tasks for attendees with disabilities).
  • Any item, that in the judgment of venue management, may pose a safety hazard or diminish the enjoyment of an event by other guests.

Do we need to make prior requests for accessible seating?

No. Arrive early and talk to an event staff member for any specific seating needs.

I have small children attending; can I bring a baby stroller?

Guests with small children may bring a baby stroller into the Commencement Pavillion, however strollers are not allowed in the seats or aisles due to the hazards they create in the event of an emergency. Strollers may be left in the entrance of the Pavillion at your own risk; event staff can direct you to appropriate parking areas for strollers. Please note that guests with children who are talking, crying or moving around in a manner that is distracting to other guests or the ceremony may be asked to step outside of the pavillion.

May a guest, or my child or baby walk across stage, or be held, with me?

No. Guests, including children and babies, are not allowed to process across stage with you during the ceremony due to safety regulations.

I am a graduating student with a disability that may impact my ability to participate in commencement. Who should I contact?

Please contact Dana Horne, SSW commencement coordinator at dhorne@buffalo.edu.

Who should I contact if I have a guest with a disability that may need assistance?

Please refer guests to the Guests with Disabilities page.

May I take photos or selfies while on stage?

No. There is plenty of opportunity for friends and family to take pictures of you while on stage, and there are professionals taking photos of you as well. Taking selfies slows down the ceremony, and distracts and detracts from the ceremony itself.

Will there be a professional photographer?

Yes. Proofs will be emailed to each student about one week after commencement. Family members wishing to take photographs are welcome to do so but may NOT stand in the aisle before their graduate is on the steps leading to the podium.

GradImages is the contracted photography studio. Please direct all post-ceremony inquiries to the studio: 1-800-261-2576.

Please notify family photographers not to obstruct the aisle and prevent hooded students from returning to their seats. Event staff will keep the aisles clear.

Will the ceremony be available for online viewing?

Live-streaming will be available at 9:00 a.m. EST.

After commencement weekend, a video link will be posted online through which you may watch a recording of the ceremony. Visit the video page for links and information.

Where do I report and when?

Students must be seated in the Commencement Pavillion no later than 8:45am the morning of commencement. As such, please plan accordingly.

It is recommended that prepare to arrive between 8:00am and 8:30am to ensure time to move through check-in. Prior to arrival on campus, graduates and guests must complete the Daily Health Check that day. Upon arrival at the Commencement Pavillion, please check in with event staff.

ALL STUDENTS AND ALL GUESTS MUST bring photo ID and be prepared to show one of the following: 

  • Negative viral test result (taken within 72 hours for PCR or 6 hours for antigen).
  • Proof of full vaccination (at least 14 days after final dose).
  • Proof of full recovery from COVID-19 within the past 90 days.

As a reminder, while on UB grounds, all graduates and guests must wear a face covering over nose and mouth and maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance.

Please arrive to the pavillion wearing your cap, black master's gown, tassel and hood as there will not be a changing facility.

Is there a rehearsal?

No. We have a Commencement - What to Expect [4:27 min] video available to view.

Where do I get my cap, tassel, hood and gown?

The University Bookstore has caps, tassels, hoods and gowns. Please note the University Bookstore often runs out of social work hoods and tassels as it gets closer to the graduation date; purchase your regalia well in advance of commencement. See the Cap & Gown information page. JD/MSWs may wear the JD robes if they are graduating from Law School that year and are hooded with the MSW hood.

Please consider donating your gown to the MSW program after graduation. Many students who could not otherwise attend graduation have done so because of the generosity of students who donate gowns.

May I wear special honors cords or other insignia on my gown?

Yes. You may wear any cord or insignia that you earned during your graduate level study.

Please note: UB graduate students do not graduate with honors levels as they do at the undergraduate level.

I will not complete my degree in May; can I still participate in the ceremony?

Any student conferred on or before August 31, 2021 can march in the ceremony. This includes part-time students completing field placement over the summer.

When will I receive my diploma?

The Office of the Registrar mails your diploma to your permanent address approximately six to eight weeks after the conferral date.

You are responsible for ensuring your address is up to date.