Commencement FAQs

Commencement FAQs

Have questions about Commencement 2024? 

More information will be posted soon as it becomes available. See our useful FAQ below for more information.

  • What are the Commencement Weekend Schedule details? 
    • Saint Mary’s Commencement 2024 will be the weekend of May 24–26, 2024. 
    • Commencement Liturgy: Friday, May 24 at 5 p.m. at UCU Pavillion
    • Undergraduate Class of 2024 Ceremony: Saturday, May 25 at 9 a.m. at the Saint Mary’s Stadium
      • Our Commencement celebration will include both an in-person experience and a virtual live-streaming event for the ceremonies (for family members unable to attend in person). Watch the live stream here.
      • Saint Mary’s is planning a traditional in-person celebration in which students will have the opportunity to hear their names read aloud, walk across the stage, and pose for a photo.
    • Graduate and Professional Studies 2024 Ceremony: Sunday, May 26 at 9 a.m. at the Saint Mary’s Stadium
      • Our Commencement celebration will include both an in-person experience and a virtual live-streaming event for the ceremonies (for family members unable to attend in person). Watch the live stream here.
      • Saint Mary’s is planning a traditional in-person celebration in which students will have the opportunity to hear their names read aloud, walk across the stage, and pose for a photo.
  • What are my celebration options for 2024? 
    • Graduates of 2024 can participate in the graduation celebrations in two ways:
      • 1. Attend Commencement in person wearing regalia.
      • 2. Watch a live stream of the Commencement which includes messages from the President, Provost, Valedictorian, and more. Live stream viewers will also get to see graduates have their names read as they walk across the stage.
  • Are you still planning a traditional in-person Commencement celebration for the 2024 undergraduates and graduates? 
    • At the current moment, Commencement is planned traditionally and in person with a live stream available. We continue to monitor local public health guidance to plan a safe, and enjoyable Commencement experience.
  • Will there be plot parties/grad grounds for the Class of 2024? 
    • Grad grounds are planned this year for undergraduates on Saturday, May 25th! View the Grad Grounds website here.
  • Where can I find official SMC Lawn and Garden Signs?
  • For questions pertaining to your student records i.e. GPA, Latin Honors, and Commencement eligibility please visit the Office of the Registrar or contact them via email at or via phone call 925.631.4214
  • Will graduates be able to order regalia? 
    • Regalia is available for pickup at Grad Fair on Thursday, March 28 at the Soda Center; the deadline to order and have it shipped to you is Thursday, April 18, 2024. Visit Regalia & Accessories page for more details.
  • Can I purchase/order a cap and gown on site?
    • No. There will be no regalia available on the day of Commencement, so be sure you order online by the deadline. Eligible students will receive information on how to obtain regalia; please refer to your email for details. The deadline to order regalia is April 18, 2024. We strongly recommend you attend Grad fair on March 28th and/or order your regalia online as soon as possible to ensure your size is available. 
  • How will graduates receive diplomas? 
    • All graduates will receive diplomas by mail. Diplomas for undergraduates are mailed during the months of June, July, and August. Graduate students should check with their department contact on when diplomas are to be mailed.
    • Be sure to view your current address listed under your student profile for accuracy. If the address needs to be updated, submit a Change of Address Form to be processed.
  • Where can I get a Commencement program? 
    • Commencement programs will be available the day of Commencement.
  • Will my name still be printed in a Commencement program? 
    • Eligible students who have been approved for Commencement will have their names printed in the Commencement program. Please make sure you are eligible by the March 1st deadline
  • What time should graduating students (not guests) arrive? 
    • Graduating students: Please arrive two (2) hours prior to Commencement to allow plenty of time to get your registration card and line up in the correct queue. (7 a.m. for both Undergraduates and Graduates & Professional Studies) Your registration card is what you will take to the stage to hand to the announcer; keep it with you at all times.
  • Should I expect long waiting times? 
    • Commencement traffic and parking reach capacity rather quickly. We recommend you arrive early (Graduates by 7 a.m. for both days on May 25 & May 26; Guests by 8 a.m.).
  • How long will Commencement take? How much time should I expect to spend on campus? 
    • Commencement for Undergraduates is planned to begin at 9:00 a.m. on May 25 and end between 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Grad Grounds will begin at 12:00 p.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.
    • Commencement for Graduates & Professional Studies is planned to begin at 9:00 a.m. on May 26 and end between 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. There will be a reception on the Chapel Lawn following Commencement.
  • Will there be a Commencement Rehearsal? 
    • There will be no rehearsal. Please review all the documentation sent to you, so you are prepared. Ushers will direct you where to go during the ceremony.
  • How early can I arrive to Commencement? 
    • We recommend guests to arrive early as we expect strong traffic and delayed parking time after 7:00 a.m. on May 25th and on May 26th. Shuttles and golf carts will be provided as marked on the parking map, and they will drop guests off at the Saint Mary's Stadium.
      • Maps coming soon.
  • Where may I park for Commencement? 
    • On-campus parking will be available for guests and is very limited. We are strongly recommending two vehicles per graduate. Party buses, floats,  shuttles, party trolleys, motor homes, or any vehicle exceeding 30 feet will not be allowed to enter campus.
      • Parking Map coming soon 
  • Will I need a ticket for entry and/or a parking pass? 
    • Tickets are required for entry to SMC Stadium for Commencement. Parking passes are NOT required for parking on campus.
  • Are we allowed to tailgate/celebrate before and after in the parking lot? 
    • Tailgating will not be allowed before or after Commencement. Guests will be guided to Saint Mary's Stadium upon arrival. The only on-campus, post-Commencement parties that may occur are in reserved Grad Grounds plots; visit the Grad Grounds page for more information.

Additional Parking Information may be found here.

  • Is there a maximum number of guests that can attend? 
    • Families & friends are invited to the 2024 Commencement event, and there will be complimentary tickets provided to each graduate. Complimentary guest tickets will be available for pickup beginning Thursday, March 28th at Grad Fair; the quantity per graduate is still to be determined. 
      • At this time, all Undergraduate Ceremony tickets have been distributed, and we are at capacity; there are no more tickets available for Saturday, May 25th's Commencement.
    • The event will also be live streamed so that families can attend remotely if they are not able to participate in the in-person experience. 
  • I am from out of town. Can you provide hotel recommendations? 
    • For a list of local hotels, please visit our lodging website.
  • If a family member is attending the ceremony and needs accommodations for parking or seating, what are the options?
    • Guests requiring seating accommodations due to mobility issues can proceed to SDS tent just inside the SMC Stadium for escort to the accessible seating section. These sections are reserved for guests requiring accommodations for physical visual, hearing, etc. Each guest needing accommodation may bring one (1) additional person into the ADA seating seating area with them. 
    • Accessible parking is available, as well as golf carts to transport guests to the ceremony site. Sign language interpretive service is provided as part of the ceremony. 
  • Can I bring my pet to Commencement? 
    • Only service animals are allowed at Commencement. Please email for more information. Emotional Support Animals are not permitted at any Commencement event. 
  • Will professional photos or video be taken during Commencement? 
    • Yes, professional photographers will be stationed as graduates walk across the stage to receive their diploma cover. These photos will later be available for purchase online.
    • Additional photography of Commencement will be available to download shortly after each event. The entire event will be live streamed. Watch the live stream.
    • Both photography and livestream video will be taken during the course of Commencement weekend for use in Saint Mary’s College publicity materials.
  • Will there be make-up photo sessions if I missed the Grad Fair?
    • No, make up photo sessions for commencement images will only be available during Grad Fair on Thursday, March 28, 2024 from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Will the Commencement celebration be live streamed and recorded? 
  • Is it safe to participate in the celebration? 
    • Saint Mary's will observe all Contra Costa County health orders related to COVID-19 and large gatherings (both indoor and outdoor). Due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic and updates to current county health orders, any additional COVID-19 safety protocols will be shared prior to the event. 
  • Do I have to wear a face covering while attending Commencement? 
    • Per Contra Costa County guidance, masking is no longer required. However, masking is recommended in large gatherings.  
  • Can I bring silly string, sparklers, or confetti? 
    • For safety, sustainability, and security reasons, these items are prohibited from the celebration along with all banned items outlined in the Student Handbook.
    • Graduates must adhere to the Student Conduct Code during Commencement Weekend.
  • Will restrooms be available? 
    • Yes. Portable restrooms will be accessible. Social distancing and all other COVID safety recommendations should be followed while utilizing the restrooms. Per Contra Costa County guidance, masking is no longer required. However, masking is still recommended in large gatherings, so attendees are encouraged to wear a mask.
  • How does the Student Code of Conduct apply to the celebration? 
    • Students participating must comply with the Student Conduct Code, including policies on public intoxication and alcohol. Commencement is an alcohol-free event. For the safety of everyone participating, staff will deny entry to any student or drivers who appear intoxicated.
  • How do I request accommodations for Commencement Weekend? 
    • Students with disabilities, who need accommodations to participate in the Commencement Liturgy, the College Commencement Ceremony, and/or the Grad Grounds event should email Julie Scaff,, as soon as possible and no later than March 15, 2024 to make appropriate arrangements. The email should include the following: Name of student, SMC ID number & accommodation needs for each event.
  • How do I know if I’m eligible to graduate? 
  • Can I participate as a graduate in the MFA-Dance 2024 Commencement in May even though I finish my degree in the Summer? 
    • Yes, if you have contacted the program coordinator for MFA in Dance and have been granted eligibility for gradation, you may walk at commencement in May. 
  • Will there be in person celebrations after Commencement? 
    • Yes, the traditional Grad Grounds is planned in person for undergraduates. Please view information on our Grad Grounds website.
    • For graduate and professional studies graduates, there will be a reception hosted at the Chapel Lawn after Commencement.
  • How can I plan ahead? 
    • Grad Grounds Showcase will be held in the Soda Center on Thursday, March 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Vendors will be present for all things related to commencement and information regarding college rings, cultural grad celebrations, grad announcements, and grad grounds. More information will be announced soon.
    • Grad Fair will be held in the Soda Center on Thursday, March 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Vendors will be present for all things related to commencement and information regarding college rings, commencement portraits, cultural grad celebrations, grad announcements, and grad grounds. More information will be announced soon.
  • Are Cultural Celebrations being planned? 
    • Find out more information about how to register for one of the Intercultural Center’s our four Cultural Graduate Celebrations here. Applications open Friday, March 11th and closes Friday, April 22nd. Cultural stoles will be provided for FREE for all graduates.
      • Lavender Graduate Celebration
        • Thursday, May 11 @ 4:30 p.m.  |  Hagerty Lounge
      • Asian Pacific Islander Graduate Celebration
        • Saturday, May 13 @ 9:00 a.m.  |  SMC Chapel
      • Black Graduate Celebration
        • Thursday, May 18 @ 6:00 p.m.  |  Soda Activity Center, Moraga Room
      • Latinx Graduate Celebration
        • Friday, May 19 @ 8:30 a.m.  |  SMC Chapel
  • Where can I find official SMC Lawn and Garden Signs?
    • We've created some ready-to-print lawn and garden signs to help you get the celebration started! Visit the Graduating Students Celebration Downloads page.
    • The Campus Store has a selection of alumni merchandise including a lawn sign available for sale on their website

How to apply

Log into GaelXpress 2.0, and click the Commencement Application button on the home dashboard. 

gaelxpress website interface

Please follow the guidelines below to make sure that your information is accurate on the date of commencement.


Pronunciation Guide — How To

We will use your submission to pronounce your name(s) during the commencement ceremony. 


How your name sounds:

Example: Mi-SHELL for Michelle.

(Use caps for stresses syllables if needed)

How your name sounds: 

Example: Lor-ENS  for Lorenz

(Use caps for stressed syllables if needed)


Hometown and State/Province:

This information will be printed on the commencement program as it is submitted. Please write out the information.

Moraga, California NOT Moraga, CA

San Francisco, California NOT San Fran, CA

Elmira, Canada NOT Elmira, CAN

Tumon, Guam NOT Guam


Diploma Mailing Address:

If your current address needs to be updated, please submit an address change form so your diploma and transcript documents are being mailed to the correct location.


Manual Access:

If you do not have immediate access to the Commencement Application on GaelXpress 2.0, you will view this message:

application status notification screen




This message is populated when your evaluation is not complete or pending complete.

In order to receive manual access, please contact your department to submit an evaluation change request for manual access to the application.

Graduate Business: Erinn Blaz 925-631-4738

Graduate Kines: Ilana Baer 925-631-8834

MFA in Creative Writing: Ilana Baer 925-631-8834

MFA in Dance: Ilana Baer 925-631-8834

MACOMM: Ilana Baer 925-631-8834

PSM BIOTECH: Ilana Baer 925-631-8834

LEAP: Stephanie Miller 925-631-4538. Visit this site for more information.

KSOE: Counseling Department: Courtney Gordon

KSOE: Teacher Education Department: Mary Withers 925-631-4292

KSOE: Leadership Department: Constance Russell 925-631-8161


If you realize that the information you submitted is inaccurate, please resubmit/update the form prior to the deadline so we can have your most current information.