Bottom Line Up Front:

  • All undergraduate Commencement activities will take place on Sunday, May 16.
  • Ticketing for all ceremonies and celebrations is expected to be available on the Commencement website beginning April 15.
  • Important questions about the likelihood of revisiting decisions about Commencement on Hearn Plaza and the number of tickets per graduate are addressed at the end of this email.

To the Class of 2021 and family members,

Plans to celebrate the undergraduate Class of 2021 are beginning to solidify. While important details remain to be finalized, we share the following updates since our March 16 message with the hope that it helps you to make plans.

We can confirm that all undergraduate Commencement activities will take place on Sunday, May 16.

Diploma Ceremonies

  • Small ceremonies where graduates will walk across the stage and receive their diplomas will be scheduled during the day.
  • The first ceremony will likely begin at 9 a.m.
  • Each ceremony will include a group of about 250 graduates and last about one hour.
  • Each graduate will receive two tickets.
  • We will communicate the specific venue(s) and academic groupings for these events as soon as we confirm our plans with our health advisors.

Sunday Evening Celebration

  • Our celebration Sunday evening will begin at 8:30 p.m. at Wake Forest’s football stadium, Truist Field.
  • Graduates and their two guests should plan to be in their seats before the start of the event. We will share more information soon about what time the parking lots and gates will open.
  • As noted, while there will be some traditional elements, this will not be a traditional ceremony. We are excited about the guest speakers we are lining up, and we think you will be too. We will soon be able to share more details about what we have planned, but you can expect this 90-minute celebration to be meaningful and memorable.
  • Like the ceremonies earlier in the day, graduates will be given two guest tickets for the evening celebration.

Caps and Gowns

Caps and gowns are available for order through Herff Jones here, in partnership with our campus bookstore. Graduates should plan to wear caps and gowns for both the daytime ceremonies and evening celebration.


Ticketing for all ceremonies and celebrations is expected to be available on the Commencement website beginning April 15.


We have heard from a number of graduates and their families expressing joy at being able to celebrate together in person and also some questions about what we have planned. The two most frequently asked questions we have received involve Hearn Plaza and the number of guests:

  1. Graduating in front of Wait Chapel on Hearn Plaza is a significant Wake Forest tradition. With the vaccine becoming more readily available and the rate of positive COVID-19 cases declining, why can’t Wake Forest hold a single ceremony on Hearn Plaza?
    Commencement on Hearn Plaza has been a special capstone to the Wake Forest experience. However, the current Governor’s Executive Order and the need for social distancing (even if modified) do not allow us to hold an event the size of Commencement anywhere other than an athletic venue with fixed seating. It is possible that the Executive Order could be amended and guidance on social distancing could change before May 16; however, advance planning for events of this size is necessary, and by making plans now, we hope to create the best possible experience for graduates and their guests.

    We will have activities on Hearn Plaza during the week before Commencement and opportunities for formal and informal photos in front of Wait Chapel in caps and gowns.

  2. My family circumstances are going to make it a challenge to celebrate Commencement with only two tickets for each event. Is it possible to get extra tickets?
    We recognize the difficult decisions families may have to make. Due to the limitations on gathering sizes and the need for social distancing, we can only guarantee two tickets per graduate for each event. If conditions change, we will revisit this decision. Family and friends will be able to enjoy livestreams of many parts of the commencement events.

Public health conditions and guidance are shifting rapidly, and we may continue to refine plans to celebrate our graduates and protect the health of our community in the weeks ahead. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available and posted on the Commencement 2021 website.

We look forward to celebrating with you on May 16.


Wake Forest University Commencement Office