Commencement


Celebrate with us.

At the College of Charleston, commencement is truly a one-of-a-kind event – a quintessentially Southern tradition that bonds generations of College of Charleston alumni and creates indelible memories in an iconic setting.

Join us in celebrating the dedication and hard work of our graduating students, while extending our heartfelt wishes for their bright futures ahead.

 


Spring Commencement, 2024

Friday, May 10
4 p.m

  • The School of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • The School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs 

Saturday, May 11
10 a.m.

  • The School of Business
  • The School of Education
  • The School of Health Sciences

Saturday, May 11
4 p.m.

  • The Graduate School
  • The School of the Arts
  • The School of Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering 


Winter Commencement, 2024

Saturday, December 14
TD Arena


Download the Commencement App to Your Phone!

To get the latest information about winter commencement, please use the College’s new mobile app. With this resource, you get access to the most up-to-date information as well as networking tools, notifications and more.

Commencement Information


College of Charleston commencement ceremonies are a time for reflection, recognition and inspiration. Here are a few tips to help make your ceremony memorable and joyous.
  • Dresses & Dinner Jackets

    Rather than caps and gowns, the long-standing College of Charleston tradition calls for graduating undergraduate women to wear white dresses and graduating men to wear white dinner jackets (Black dresses/Dinner jackets for the winter commencement).

    Our masters' candidates wear the traditional regalia with their graduate school discipline's corresponding hood.

    Additional Attire Insights

    • Military attire: You can wear your dress military uniform if appropriate.
    • Ties & Cummerbunds: Ties and cummerbunds do not have to be black. Other colors and prints are acceptable attire.
    • Tuxedos for all: You do not have to have been born male to wear a tux and white dinner jacket.
    • Cultural/Ethnic traditions: It is perfectly acceptable to wear clothing that reflects your cultural or ethnic tradition (i.e. a Kimono, a Burka, a Sari, a Kilt, etc.).  We must remind you: Anyone wearing a kilt must wear underwear please.
    • Slacks and Skirts: Male or female, you may wear a white skirt or white pants for spring commencement if you prefer
    • Shoes: Wear shoes that are appropriate and comfortable. Remember that you will be walking up and down several sets of stairs.

     

  • Red Roses & Boutonnieres

    Proud parents and beautiful photo opps.

    A College of Charleston tradition since the 1930s, undergraduate women carry a bouquet of six roses while men wear rose boutonnieres for the commencement ceremony.

    To help you accessorize your graduates on commencement day, we've partnered with The Commencement Group to provide red rose bouquets and single red rose boutonnieres.

    When ordering for your graduates, please place your order ahead of time to guarantee availability. Roses may be picked up immediately prior to lining up for commencement. Flowers must be preordered and will not be sold on commencement day.

    Order bouquets/boutoneers from thecommencementgroup.com/cofc

    More Commencement Flower Facts

    • Flowers are not mandatory. You can still graduate without them!
    • Graduates can bring their own flowers to carry (you don't have to purchase them from the bookstore).
    • Your flowers don't have to be red roses.
    • You don't have to carry your flowers. You can wear them in your hair if you desire.
    • Graduate School grads do not carry flowers.

     

  • Accessibility Information

    Accessibility Requests

    • Guests: If you are a guest with a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs at eop@cofc.edu at least 10 business days in advance of the ceremony.
    • Students: If you are a student with a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Center for Disability Services at least 10 business days in advance of the ceremony.
     
    Accessible Seating
    • Accessible seating is available on a first come, first served basis in TD Arena (Winter Commencement) and Cistern Yard (May Commencement).


    Accessible Parking

    Visitors to the College of Charleston who require accessible parking should park at a meter or in one of the nearby parking garages.

    • Persons with a valid state-issued placard can park in a garage free of charge.
    • Upon exiting, the driver must present their driver's license to the cashier for verification.
    • Cashier hours vary by location; please check signage at the garage entrance for cashier hours to ensure one will be on duty when you exit.
    TD Arena

    Disability-related accommodations will be made available for guests with wheelchairs, limited mobility, or in need of services for the hearing impaired.
    • Seating: To help facilitate all guests needing accommodation, one additional guest can accompany the guest who requires the accessibility accommodation. All additional guests are welcome to sit in the open seating directly in front of these sections on a first come, first served basis.
    • Wheelchairs/Limited Mobility: For guests with wheelchairs or with limited mobility, ushers will direct individuals to the location of the elevator. Guests using the elevator will proceed to the second floor. Upon exiting off the elevator, turn left to enter the seating area for Commencement. Seating options for guests are available throughout this floor.
    • Ushers will be available to direct guests to seating throughout TD Arena.

    Captions
    Captioning of the live stream video will be available on the College of Charleston Facebook page and the College of Charleston YouTube page.

    Interpreters
    American Sign Language interpreters will be at commencement ceremonies.

    Service Animals
    Whether you are a graduating student or a guest, service animals – as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – are allowed at commencement ceremonies. All other animals are prohibited from College commencement ceremonies.

    Parking
    • Graduates and guests may use the nearby garages for parking and are welcome to use alternative transportation (e.g., walk, bike, carpool, ride CARTA buses, use car services).   
    • Garage parking will be available in the core of campus at the following locations:
    • The George Garage, located at 34 St. Philip Street between George and Liberty Streets (next to CVS)
    • The College’s St. Philip Street Garage, located at 81 St. Philip Street between Vanderhorst and Calhoun Streets (next to the BellSouth building)
    • The hourly rate for these locations is $1 per half hour, or portion thereof, with a daily maximum of $18 per day.
    • There is also a City of Charleston surface lot located at 31 George Street. Parking at this location is pre-paid at the entrance.
    • The College of Charleston surface parking lots will be available only to faculty, staff and students working the ceremonies.

    Wheelchairs and Other Mobility Devices
    College of Charleston does not provide mobility devices for commencement, but they can be rented directly from one of the following area vendors:

    Herbert’s Mobility
    1930 Ashley River Road
    Charleston, SC 29407
    843 571-1515
  • Parking

    Graduates and guests may use the nearby garages for parking and are welcome to use alternative transportation (e.g., walk, bike, carpool, ride CARTA buses, use car services).   

    Garage parking will be available in the core of campus at the following locations:

    • The George Garage, located at 34 St. Philip Street between George and Liberty Streets (next to CVS)
    • The College’s St. Philip Street Garage, located at 81 St. Philip Street between Vanderhorst and Calhoun Streets (next to the BellSouth building)
    The hourly rate for these locations is $1 per half hour, or portion thereof, with a daily maximum of $18 per day.

    There is also a City of Charleston surface lot located at 31 George Street. Parking at this location is pre-paid at the entrance and the pricing schedule is as follows:

    The College of Charleston surface parking lots will be available only to faculty, staff and students working the ceremonies.

    Accessible Parking
    Persons with a valid state-issued placard can park in a garage free of charge. Upon exiting, the driver must present their driver's license to the cashier for verification. Cashier hours vary by location; please check signage at the garage entrance for cashier hours to ensure one will be on duty when you exit.

    Visitors to the College of Charleston who require accessible parking should park at a meter or in a garage.

  • Alcohol Policy

    The College of Charleston observes a strict no-alcohol or other drugs policy prior to and during the commencement ceremonies.

    Ceremony participants, graduation candidates and guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages or other drugs onto the premises or consuming alcoholic beverages during the ceremonies. Any person determined by College personnel to be impaired will be removed from the premises and prohibited from participating in the ceremony.  

    All graduates planning to participate in the commencement ceremony must acknowledge by their signature that they have read and understand the policy as well as the consequences for violating the policy prior to receiving tickets to commencement. The audience will be reminded prior to the ceremony that any student determined to be impaired will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony.

    In support of the policy, a "no alcohol or other drugs zone" for Cistern commencement ceremonies that includes Cistern Yard, Randolph Hall and the block bordered by St. Philip, George, Coming and Calhoun has been established. For December commencement, a similar “no alcohol or other drugs zone” encompasses TD Arena and Johnson Center. 

    • Within this zone, alcohol or other drugs will be confiscated.
    • There will be a bag check for graduates entering ready line-up rooms (Maybank Hall in May and Johnson Center and TD Arena in December). Please read the Prohibited Items and Bag Check page for information about our clear bag protocol. 
    • Secure storage for personal effects will be provided in the line-up rooms, but you are advised to bring as few personal belongings as necessary. No bags will be allowed on stage. 
    • No outside food or beverages will be allowed in the line-up rooms (exception for documented medical necessity only).
    • Once admitted to line-up rooms and ceremony venue, graduates will not be permitted to exit this area and return. Staff will monitor entrances and exits with support from Public Safety.
    • Impaired or inebriated students will be removed from the ready room area, pulled from line, or removed from the stage prior to walking.
      • Using a predetermined protocol, public safety officers and EMS will evaluate students believed to be impaired or inebriated.
      • If it is determined that a student is unable to participate in the ceremony, the student will be escorted from the ceremony and transported to a local hospital by EMS if deemed necessary or turned over to a responsible party (family member or friend).
  • Clear Bag Checks & Prohibited Items

    In addition to a great overall guest experience, the safety and security of our students, staff, faculty, guests, and all visitors is our number one priority.

    By adhering to these proactive measures, we can speed up the screening process and enhance the safety inside and out of our commencement venues.

    This protocol also supports Homeland Security's "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign.

    Bag Check Protocal (Clear Bags & Small Clutches Only)

    In order to expedite entry and provide a safe and secure environment for our student, faculty, staff, guests and visitors, the College of Charleston has implemented a Clear Bag Protocol for its ticketed events, including Commencement. 

    Attendees will only be able to carry the following approved style and size bag, package or container into the ticketed Commencement venues (TD Arena and Cistern Yard).  

    Approved Bags

    • Clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags that do not exceed 12" x 6" x 12" – A logo no larger than 4.5" x 3.4" can be displayed on one side of a permissible clear bag.
    • One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar)
    • Small clutch bags no larger than 4.5" x 6.5" – approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap
    • Medically necessary items (after proper inspection)

    Prohibited bags include, but are not limited to:

    • Purses larger than a clutch bag
    • Camera Bags
    • Backpacks
    • Fanny Packs
    • Cinch/Drawstring Bags
    • Luggage of any kind
    • Computer Bags
    • Diaper Bags
    • Binocular Cases
    • Briefcases
    • Non-approved seat cushions, which include large traditional seat cushions that have pockets, zippers, compartments or covers

    Prohibited Items

    • Purses larger than a clutch bag (4.5" x 6.5"), briefcases, backpacks, and cinch bags of any kind, fanny packs, luggage of any kind, computer bags/cases, camera bags/cases, binocular bags/cases or any bag larger than the permissible size (12" x 6" x 12")
    • Coolers, thermoses, cups, bottles, cans, flasks
    • Food of any kind
    • Video cameras, tripods, recording devices, detachable camera lenses over 6", selfie sticks
    • Weapons/Concealed Weapons-SC Open Carry Law does not apply to College of Charleston
    • Campus
    • Alcoholic Beverages
    • Containers of any kind
    • Aerosol and Spray Cans
    • Mace/Pepper Spray
    • Animals (except service animals)
    • Laser lights, Strobe Lights and Pointers
    • Irritants such as artificial noisemakers
    • Fireworks/Explosives
    • Inflatables (beach balls, etc.)
    • Flags and flagpoles, unauthorized banners or posters
    • Strollers
    • Illegal Drugs
    • Drones

    Additional Insights on Policies & Bags

    • Clear Bags are available Near the Venue: Guests that do not have a clear bag will have the opportunity to purchase a bag (or Ziploc-style bags) from any campus store (including the College of Charleston Campus Store) as well as surrounding area retailers. Be sure to leave your non-clear bag in your vehicle.

    • Guests with prohibited bags will be NOT permitted inside the venue: You've been advised. Place your necessary belongings in a clear bag. Leave your prohibited bag at home.

    • One bag per person: Each ticketed guest can carry one large clear bag – either a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag or the 12" x 6" x 12" clear bag – plus a small clutch purse (4.5" x 6.5". The small clutch must be carried into the venue outside the clear bag and is subject to search.

    • Cameras, phones, bincoulars, and pocket items: Guests can continue to carry permitted items in their pockets and/or hands such as keys, phones, wallets, makeup, etc. if you choose not to put them in a clear bag or clutch. Prohibited items have not changed. Camera and binocular cases will not be allowed. 

    • Clear Backpacks: Clear backpacks that do not exceed the 12" X 6" X 12" clear bag protocol are permitted. Any type of clear bag that does not exceed the clear bag size is permitted.

    • Blankets and Cold Weather: Guests may bring blankets by tossing them over a shoulder or arm as they arrive at the gate. These items can be easily screened.

     

  • Weather Policy

    Leading up to the ceremony, College of Charleston monitors the weather for Commencement weekend 24 hours a day.

    If inclement weather occurs, the President’s Office will make an announcement that will be prominently displayed on the College of Charleston website home page (www.charleston.edu) as well as on local TV and radio stations. 

    Weather can also delay the start time of the ceremony, and if so, this information will be included in any announcements.

  • Traditions, Memorabilia & Mementos

    Keep the celebration going with these gifts, keepsakes, and alumni connections.

    College of Charleston RingCollege of Charleston Ring

    Celebrate your graduate by ordering an official College of Charleston Ring. 

    Shop for your official College of Charleston Ring



    College of Charleston diploma frame sampleDiploma Frames

    Show off your achievement with a College of Charleston diploma display frame.

    Shop the College of Charleston Bookstore for diploma frames.

     



    Clock with College of Charleston "C" logo on the clock face.Gifts & Accessories

    Select that perfect College of Charleston gift for your grad.

    Shop the College of Charleston Barnes and Noble Bookstore

     


     

    College of Charleston logo with "alumni" underneath.Class Notes & Alumni Benefits

    Once a Cougar, always a Cougar.

    Join us by staying connected with your classmates and forging new relationships with fellow College of Charleston alumni.

    Whether it’s through a local chapter event, or through social media, the Alumni Association is your source for all things College of Charleston.

    As soon as you graduate, you become a lifetime member of the Alumni Association and there are no dues.


    Update your information and submit a Class Note!

     


     

    Grad Pack

    Visit our Grad Party Materials page to download graduation signage, sheet cake graphics, party decorations and more.

    Go Cougars!

    Visit the Grad Party Page!

     

    College of Charleston Graduate yard sign in maroon with College of Charleston logoYard Sign

    For front yard fanfare or to let graduation party guests know they're in the right spot, share your Cougar pride with friends and family. 

    Download the College of Charleston Graduate Yard Sign

     

    College of Charleston graduate Instagram frame examplesInstagram Frames

     


     

    Personalized Graduation Announcements
    Personalized graduation announcements may be ordered online through Balfour. Please place your order 4-6 weeks prior to ceremony. You can then mail your graduation announcements to family and friends two weeks prior to ceremony.

    Special Note: Graduation announcements are not tickets for reserved seating at the College's commencement ceremony in the Cistern Yard.

    Guests with graduation announcements and no ticket can sit at one of the satellite viewing locations, which are located in close proximity to the Cistern Yard and do not require a ticket.

    Order your graduation announcements through Balfour

     


     

    Hometown News Announcement

    Media Relations at the College of Charleston regularly distributes news releases announcing graduation, awards, offices held and other student accomplishments to the hometown newspapers of our current students.

    To submit your Hometown News item, please complete and return the Hometown News Form to the contact and address listed on the form.

    Download the Hometown News Form

  • Online Viewing Options

    Commencement Ceremonies are live-streamed on the College of Charleston Facebook and YouTube pages.

    The ceremony videos become available on the commencement website archive approximately four weeks after the ceremony.