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Commencement Instructions 


Schedule for Commencement Day

8:45 a.m. – Graduating students arrive at law school.

8:45–10:15 a.m. – Students robe (in library).

10:15–10:45 a.m. – Students line up in alphabetical order (in library).

10:50 a.m. – Processional to Boch Center Wang Theatre (formerly Citi Performing Arts Center).


8:45 to 10:15 a.m. – Administrative staff members assist students with robing in the library. Students who have received honors, as indicated in the Commencement program, pick up honor cords (long yellow cords worn around the neck) at the circulation desk.

Processional Lineup

10:15 to 10:45 a.m. – Students should proceed to the part of the library where their names are posted on the walls under the names of their faculty marshals. The marshals then arrange the students in alphabetical order to prepare for the processional. During this time, the two heralds proceed along the line of students, confirming pronunciation of each name. Student award winners (including valedictorians) will assemble as instructed beforehand for a photograph in the school lobby and will then be lined up at the front of the student line.


10:50 a.m. – The two bagpipers and one drummer then lead the processional onto Stuart Street. The graduating students fall into line behind the bagpipers and drummers.  Marshals walk alongside the processional line. All stage participants who have gathered on the second floor come into the lobby, led by the Chief Marshal, and follow the line of students.  Traffic is halted by Boston police officers while the processional marches along Stuart Street towards Tremont Street, where it turns right and proceeds to the front doors of the Boch Center.  

Order of processional participants:

  1. Bagpipers
  2. Chief Marshal
  3. Student-awards supervisor
  4. Student award winners (including valedictorians)
  5. Faculty marshals
  6. Juris doctor degree recipients in alphabetical order
  7. Stage participants (trustees, honorary degree recipients, and faculty other than marshals)

Order of Program during Commencement Ceremony

National Anthem

Call to Order by Chairman Martin C. Foster


Introduction of Dean John F. O'Brien by Chairman Martin C. Foster

Address of Welcome by Dean John F. O’Brien

Presentation of Student Awards

Student award winners and valedictorians are called onto the stage individually to receive their awards and deliver their valedictory remarks. Each student ascends the steps at the left of the stage and returns to his or her seat the same way. When each award winner accepts the award from the dean, he or she poses briefly with the dean, facing photographers in front of the stage, before returning to his or her seat.

Valedictory Addresses

Presentation of Candidates for Honorary Degrees and Conferral of Honorary Degrees

Presentation of Commencement Speaker and Conferral of Honorary Degree

Commencement Address

Conferral of Earned (Juris Doctor) Degrees

During the conferral of degrees, the heralds stand on the left-hand side of the stage at the top of the stairs. The faculty marshals will indicate when each row of J.D. candidates should stand up, one row at a time, and proceed up the left aisle and onto the stage. It is helpful if each degree recipient whispers his/her name to the herald to confirm that the individual and the list correspond; otherwise, the herald will whisper the name if confirmation is needed. The herald then announces the name out loud. The degree recipient then walks to the individual handing out the degrees (usually the chairman of the board of trustees or the president of the corporation), shakes that person's hand, shakes the dean's hand, crosses the stage, proceeds down the right-hand side of the stage, and returns to his or her seat. As each student is receiving his or her degree, a photographer hired by the law school takes a photograph, which the student may purchase. (The company will contact students directly.) Other photographers also record various aspects of the degree-granting ceremony for use in law school publications. Those photographs will be available for purchase online after Commencement. (Information about viewing and ordering photos will be e-mailed to all graduating students.)


Closing Remarks  


Once the ceremony is finished, the chief marshal leads the stage participants out of the auditorium. The student award winners, valedictorians, and faculty marshals fall in line behind them, as do the J.D. recipients, one row at a time, starting with the first row. The bagpipers will be waiting outside the auditorium (in the lobby) to lead the recessional back to the law school.