Below, find information for guests and visitors to Yale Law School Commencement activities.

Details for Guests

A reception hosted by Dean Gerken for all graduating students, family, and guests will be held Sunday, May 19, 2019, at 5 pm in the Law School Courtyard. 

All Yale Law School degree candidates are invited to participate in Commencement activities on Monday, May 20, 2019. 

There are two distinct ceremonies. The University Commencement takes place on Old Campus in the morning and the Law School ceremony is held in the Lanman Center at Payne Whitney Gymnasium beginning around 12:45 p.m. No tickets are required for either commencement ceremony, and there is no limit on the number of guests. The participants in both ceremonies wear caps and gowns.

University Commencement

Monday, May 20 at 10:30 a.m. (Students must be lined up on Cross Campus at 10:00 a.m.)
Old Campus (Approximate GPS Address: Phelps Hall, Yale University 344 College Street New Haven, CT 06520)
All university degrees are formally conferred during the Commencement ceremony on Old Campus. During the ceremony, the  deans formally present their approved candidates to President Salovey. The president, in turn, confers the degrees and admits new graduates to each degree’s “rights and responsibilities.” Student marshals accept symbolic diplomas from the president on behalf of their colleagues. The ceremony lasts approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.

Law School Ceremony

Monday, May 20 at 12:45 p.m., or immediately following University Commencement
Payne Whitney Gymnasium (70 Tower Parkway, New Haven, CT 06511)
The ceremony for Yale Law School takes place immediately after the University Commencement. This ceremony lasts approximately two and a half hours.


The University Ceremony (Rain or Shine)

  1. All graduating law students and faculty should gather at Cross Campus (Approximate GPS Address, Bass Library, 110 Wall St, New Haven, CT 06511) at 10:10 a.m. behind the sign that says "Law". We will line up in pairs in the following order: Dean Gerken; the faculty; the student marshals and finally, the degree candidates in the following order: Ph.D./J.S.D. candidates; LL.M. candidates; MSL candidates; and J.D. candidates. Within any category you may pair up with anyone else; students who want to sit together should march behind/in front of each other.  Law student marshals, who will be carrying white batons, will assist in assembling our formation.
  2. After the undergraduates and the Corporation party have left Cross Campus, the graduate and professional schools procession (including the Law School group) will follow them through the Noah Porter Gate, across and up Elm Street and then down High Street, entering Old Campus through the High Street Gate.
  3. Once we arrive at Old Campus, all degree candidates should take seats as directed. Please fill up every row completely and sit down immediately upon finding a seat. There is no particular order of seating during the University ceremony. Don't worry about keeping the same partner for the exiting march—you can pair up with anyone when we leave Old Campus.
  4. Procedure: During the symbolic awarding of degrees, when Dean Gerken begins to address the President, the student marshals proceed (without batons) to walk to the ramp leading to the stage (to the right side as you look at it). When Dean Gerken says, "I have the honor to present candidates…for the degree of …, …in number," the degree candidates designated rise and put on their caps at the words "in number." When the President says, "I confer upon you the degrees…and admit you to all their rights and responsibilities," the student marshals go onto the stage to receive the symbolic diplomas. When our Dean tips her cap to the President and resumes her seat, the degree candidates sit down without waiting for the student marshals to return to their seats.
  5. Dean Thompson will lead the Recessional march off of Old Campus through the High Street Gate. Once you leave Old Campus, please proceed directly to the Lanman Center at Payne Whitney Gymnasium

The Law School Ceremony

  1. Following the University Commencement exercises on Old Campus, law students will process from the ceremony held on Old Campus and march directly to the Lanman Center at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Once you enter the Payne Whitney Gymnasium through the main entrance, turn right toward the John J. Lee Amphitheater. There will be signs and law school volunteers directing you to the appropriate location. Ushers will direct you down the stairs and into the Amphitheater, where you should immediately line up alphabetically by the degree you will be receiving (e.g. JDs should line up with JDs, LLMs with LLMs, and so forth), so that you can be checked off on the attendance list. The order of entrance into the Lanman Center will be as follows: J.S.D./Ph.D., LL.M., MSL., and J.D. candidates. Water and snacks will be available in the student staging area for graduates.
  2. The Law School ceremony will include the reading of the name of each degree candidate that is present. Please start forward across the stage area when your name is called and shake the Dean's hand. This is, of course, a photo opportunity for family and friends. You may want to place the tassel of your caps on your right side, since the photographer* will be facing your left side as you proceed across the stage. (*Commencement Photos, Inc., of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, [CPI] will take individual photos of all who participate in the Commencement Ceremony. It will be possible to order photographs from the CPI website. CPI will send all graduates an e-mail with information about ordering photographs after Commencement.)
  3. After the ceremony, weather permitting we will host the Champagne Toast in the Yale Law School Courtyard. This is an opportunity to mingle with faculty, members of the administration, family and guests, and to take lots of photographs! No tickets are required for the champagne reception. In case of inclement weather, the toast will take place at the back of the Lanman Center. The location of the champagne toast will be announced at the end of the ceremony.

The Yale Law School commencement ceremony will be live streamed. It will also be broadcast live in the Yale Law School building, as will the Yale University ceremony. 

You may request a wheelchair rental for guests on a first come first served basis.

To make disability arrangements, please contact Dean Mike Thompson.

Please find information on accommodations on the Yale Commencement website.

All university parking lots are open on Commencement day, but parking will be at a premium, and meters will be monitored. Traveling and parking within the city of New Haven is always challenging on Commencement Day. Please plan ahead and allow plenty of time to travel to and around campus that day.

Additional information can be found here:

No tickets are required for family and guests to attend the Commencement ceremonies.

It can be mild and sunny or cold and rainy in Connecticut in May. Recent Commencement weekends have had both weather extremes, so flexibility and practicality are good planning principles. Dress with an eye to the weather and comfort. The University ceremony is held outdoors; the Law School ceremony is held indoors. Low heels or flats are appropriate for navigating the grass and mulched pathways of Old Campus. Rain gear, including water-impervious footwear, is important; and rain ponchos are preferred over umbrellas so sightlines are not blocked. Sunglasses and hats may also be useful. A jacket and tie or collared shirt and sports jacket is appropriate men’s attire for most events. On graduation day, it is recommended that students wear clothing with pockets, comfortable heels (if they choose to wear heels), and a shirt with a button to make it easier to tie their regalia.

We will provide snacks and water during the Law School ceremony. There are also several local restaurants available if you would like to purchase breakfast. Those restaurants include: Blue State Coffee, Maison Mathis, and Good Nature Market.

Looking for graduation gifts? Vendors selling fresh flowers will be available on site. You can also purchase hats, t-shirts, umbrellas, and other Yale memorabilia from the Yale University Official Bookstore and Campus Customs.