Day of Commencement

Navigating Commencement Day

Commencement is open to the public and free to attend. Doors open at noon to all guests!

The Commencement Ceremony will be livestreamed on the WSU Tri-Cities YouTube channel.


  • Graduates, faculty, platform party and staff have designated parking located on the backside (Grandridge Blvd.) of the Toyota Center.
  • Guest parking is located in the front parking lot of the Toyota Center. Accessible parking spaces and a drop-off area are available.

Accessibility & Accomodations

  • The Toyota Center offers wheelchair access seating, but does not have wheelchairs available. Accessible seating is available in sections Q to R and in section DD on the second floor (access by elevators).
  • Graduates who are unable to navigate stairs need to contact the Commencement Office at for special instructions.
  • Real-time captioning will be available during the ceremony on large screens.


  • Personal items should be left with family members or in your vehicle.
  • No outside food or beverages are allowed.

When You Arrive…


  • Commencement ceremony begins at 1 pm.
  • Graduating students start to arrive at noon and report to line up areas no later than 12:30 pm
  • Graduating students must wear regalia to participate in the ceremony
  • Graduates will enter the Toyota Center on the backside entrance, lower level (the front doors will be locked). Greeters will be outside and inside the entrance to help direct graduates.
  • Upon entrance, grab your reader card at the information tables.
    • Undergraduate tables are on the left of the entrance.
    • Master’s and Doctoral information tables are located to the right.
    • Use the tables throughout the concourse to make any adjustments to your reader card.
    • You must have your reader card with you for your name to be announced during the ceremony.
  • Line up at the area assigned to your college. There will be signs posted by each college throughout the student line up area to indicate your designated major.
  • Mirrors and water stations will be provided throughout the lower level for graduates.
  • Several WSU commencement volunteers will be available to assist you.
  • Check out the commencement floor plan


  • Doors open to guests at noon.
  • Enter the Toyota Center through the main front doors near the flag. All other entrances will be locked.
  • Guests are not permitted to enter by way of the graduate entrance.

Dos and Don’ts



  • Double check. Make sure you have your cap, gown, tassel, honor cord/hood (if applicable) with you.
  • Arrive at NOON. Traffic can be unpredictable.
  • Check in. Pick up your reader card. If you did not pick up your honor cord the last two weeks, you can pick it up at the check-in table.
  • Wear sensible shoes. There are ramps and carpet to navigate. You’ll be on your feet waiting to process. Trust us.
  • Listen and be respectful. We know this is an exciting moment for you, but we ask that you be respectful of other graduates and the commencement volunteers while waiting for the processional to begin. The commencement volunteers are there to guide you and ensure you get to where you need to be.
  • Have fun! This is a celebration of a huge accomplishment. Post your pics with #CougGrad and #CougGradWSUTC!


  • Be late. Plan to arrive at the Toyota Center starting at noon and be in the line up area by 12:30 p.m. The processional begins promptly at 1 p.m. Late arrivals will be seated in overflow in the back rows.
  • Bring extra stuff. There is no secure place to store your purse, backpack, etc.
  • Forget to be grateful. Take a moment to thank the friend, professor, parent and anyone else who helped you achieve this goal.



  • Arrive on time. Traffic can be unpredictable. The parking lot is huge, and the walk to the venue is long.
  • Have fun! This is a celebration of a huge accomplishment for your graduate. Post your pics at #CougGrad and #CougGradWSUTC!


  • Save seats. If you want your party to sit together, you must arrive together.
  • Be late. The ceremony begins promptly at 1 p.m.
  • Stand in the aisle. The Toyota Center requires aisles to remain clear, so please take photos from your seat.
  • Stand on the commencement floor. Guests are not allowed on the commencement floor at any time.
  • Bring baby strollers and car seats. These are not allowed in the Toyota Center as aisles need to remain clear. You may park strollers near the merchandise stand at your own risk.
  • Bring in balloons. These are not allowed in the Toyota Center. Leave these in your car until commencement ends.

Master’s and Doctoral Hooding

Doctoral graduates are responsible for providing the name of their hooder (typically a professor who advised them during their program) when they register to walk for the commencement ceremony.  They are also responsible for sharing commencement information (date, time, location) with their hooder and ensure the hooder is wearing regalia.

  • Master’s and Doctoral graduates will be hooded at the commencement ceremony.
  • Master’s graduates are hooded by the Academic Director from their college.
  • Master’s and Doctoral graduates wear the tassel on the left at all times.

Processional and Hooding Instructions

  1. Doctoral graduates will walk with their hooder in the processional and be seated together. If the hooder is part of platform party, they will walk in separate and be seated on the stage instead.
  2. Master’s graduates will walk in the processional line and be seated without their hooder. Academic Directors walk in with the platform party and will be seated on the stage.
  3. Hold hood up with your right hand at the point with the trim, tail down (narrow section)
  4. Lay the top of the hood across your left arm with the velvet trim near your wrist.
  5. If there is a cord on your hood, make sure it is unbuttoned.
  6. Doctoral candidates and their hooder will be instructed when to approach the ramp to the stage. If the hooder is already on the stage, they will move forward on the platform and step up to the hooding box.
  7. When you are ushered out of your seat by row monitors to approach the stage, take the card with you and hold it in your right hand.
  8. Hand your card to the photographer at the first photo station. Do not step out of order.
  9. Keep your card out. Continue forward, and hand your card to the person on the stage who will announce your name, degree earned, and hooding professor’s name.
  10. As your name is announced, proceed to hooding person. The hooder extends hand to accept the hood from the student, then directs the student to stand in front of the hooding box.
  11. Student turns around to face the audience with heels as close to hooding box.
  12. If you are taller than your professor, bend your knees. DO NOT LEAN FORWARD, as this makes it more difficult for the professor to reach over your head. Do not try to assist. The hooder will adjust your hood so the satin lining shows.
  13. Hooder will tap student on the shoulder to indicate when hooding is completed. Student remains in place until this occurs.
  14. Turn and shake the hooder’s hand and proceed to the Chancellor to receive your diploma cover.
  15. Shake hands and pause for a photo with the Chancellor.
  16. Exit the stage on the other side where you will take another photo with your diploma cover.
  17. Faculty will be lined up along the perimeter of the main floor to congratulate you, then you will return to your seat.

Master’s and Doctoral candidates are encouraged to attend student rehearsal and to practice hooding on Thursday, April 28, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm in East Auditorium, Room 266.