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Commencement Information for Graduates

Salem State graduates take a selfie before the ceremony

Congratulations, Class of 2017!

Your Guide to Graduation

Commencement 2017

2017 Commencement Ceremonies

School(s) Ceremony Date and Time Candidates Arrival Time Arena Opens to Guests
College of Health and Human Services,
Bertolon School of Business
Saturday, May 20,
10 am
8:30 am 9 am
College of Arts and Sciences,
School of Education
Saturday, May 20,
3 pm
1:30 pm 2 pm
School of Graduate Studies

Thursday, May 18,
4 pm

3 pm

3 pm


Students who are pursuing double majors will be asked to designate their primary major when they complete their application for degree and will attend the ceremony for that major.

Who Can Participate? 

Students who have completed all degree requirements during the summer 2016, fall 2016 and those completing their requirements by May 2017 will be eligible to participate in commencement. In addition, students who will complete their requirements during the summer 2017 term may participate if they meet specific guidelines. For complete information, visit the Student Navigation Center's graduation page.

Ticket Information

Each graduating student who indicated their intent to attend a commencement ceremony and who received notification from the registrar’s office that they are eligible to participate in commencement may reserve up to four (4) commencement tickets to his/her assigned ceremony. Graduating students from the School of Graduate Studies may reserve up to six (6) commencement tickets to his/her assigned ceremony.

How to Reserve Commencement Tickets

  1. Visit between April 12 and May 1, 2017
  2. Enter your Navigator username and password
  3. Select your ceremony
  4. Select the number of tickets (up to four for your ceremony)
  5. Indicate if any of your guests need accessible seating accommodations. For more information, contact disability services at or 978.542.6217 (TTY: 978.542.7146), video phone: 978.910.0167, or visit the Berry Library, room G20, no later than Monday, May 1, 2017.
  6. Print or email your tickets to your guest(s) 

Additional tickets released May 16

A small number of additional tickets will be released at on Tuesday, May 16. The schedule is as follows:
            - 9 am: additional tickets released for College of Arts and Sciences/School of Education ceremony
            - 12 pm: additional tickets released for the College of Health and Human Services/Bertolon School of Business ceremony
            - 2 pm: additional tickets released for the Graduate School ceremony

Guest Ticket Reminders

  • The unique bar code on each ticket allows only one entry to the event. The first copy of an e-ticket(if there are multiple copies made) to arrive at the event will gain entry after scanning and validation. If additional copies of a ticket are presented, that individual will be denied entry.
  • Tickets are non-replaceable if lost or stolen and should be handled as you would any other valuable or cash. In addition, the sale of commencement tickets is prohibited.
  • Any person entering the arena must present a ticket for admittance, including children and guests with disability seating requests.
  • Tickets need to be printed in actual size and only one ticket on an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper.
  • If you try to shrink/enlarge the ticket size the barcode will not scan at the door and it will delay your entry to the venue.


Questions about commencement? Fill out our contact form or call 978.542.7455.

Additional Commencement Information

  • Parking

    The main parking lot for Salem State's commencement ceremonies is located at the O'Keefe Complex at 225 Canal Street in Salem. 


    However, the university provides satellite lots in case of overflow. These lots are located at our Central and South campuses and are within walking distance to the O’Keefe Complex. Shuttle service will be available during the two undergraduate commencement ceremonies to provide transportation to the O’Keefe Complex from all parking locations. Shuttle buses will run continuously from Central Campus to O'Keefe  and will run intermittently from South Campus to the O'Keefe Complex.


    Please note that satellite viewing for Saturday's ceremonies, which takes place in the Ellison Campus Center, is on North Campus and parking is available there as indicated on the map.

  • Caps and Gowns

    All candidates participating in commencement exercises must wear proper academic regalia. Caps and gowns are provided to students who are eligible to participate in commencement at no additional cost. Students may pick up their cap and gown at the bookstore starting April 12, 2017, through May 15, 2017. Please contact the bookstore for additional information.

  • Graduates or Guests with Disabilities

    Individuals needing accessibility accommodations, such as sign language interpreters, wheelchair access, ground level seating, will be able to request this service through the ticket reservation process. For more information, contact disability services at or 978.542.6217 (TTY: 978.542.7146) (video phone: 978.910.0167) or visit the Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons, room G20, no later than Monday, May 1, 2017.

  • Arrival time and Assembly of Candidates

    Candidates in Saturday's ceremonies should arrive at O'Keefe Sports Complex no later than 90 minutes prior to their ceremony. Candidates in the School of Graduate Studies should arrive at O'Keefe Sports Complex no later than 60 minutes prior to their ceremony. Late arrivals may not be admitted to commencement activities.


    At check-in candidates will receive a colored 3 x 5” index card with a number. Keep this card with you at all times. The card will be presented on stage just prior to the announcement of your degree. It is also important that once candidates are placed in order in the gym by commencement staff, the candidates remain in that position. Because degrees are arranged in the order of the student lines, and each graduating student will receive an actual diploma, failure to maintain the correct place in line or to present the card on stage will result in the candidate not receiving his or her own diploma.

    If candidates need to leave the arena after checking in, they must show the index card (see below for more card information) and a hand stamp for re-entry. Check-in will take place at the main entrance of the Harold E. and Marilyn J. Gassett Fitness and Recreation Center. Commencement staff will assist the candidates with lining up in the Twohig Gymnasium and will guide them to the seating area on the rink floor.


    There is no secure storage for personal belongings at the O’Keefe Sports Complex, so please plan accordingly.

  • Decorum

    We ask for your cooperation before, during and after the ceremony in helping us to present a program to your family and friends of which we can all be proud. Please remain in your seats until all graduates have received their diplomas and the ceremony is concluded.

  • Honors Designation

    Honors cords will be distributed at commencement check-in to undergraduate seniors graduating with a cumulative grade point average of 3.300 or higher as of the end of the fall 2016 semester and who will have earned at least 60 credits in residence at Salem State University by the end of the spring 2017 term. For a complete description of the honors categories, please visit our academic catalog and review the academic policies section of the catalog. 

  • Photography

    A commercial photographer with a special high-speed camera will take a picture of each student at the moment their degree is presented. A few weeks prior to commencement, degree candidates will receive detailed information in the mail from the photographer. For more information, contact Essex Commencement Photographers at 978.388.9832.


    No private photographers will be allowed on the floor or near the stage.

  • Tobacco

    Please be aware that since September 2011, Salem State University is a tobacco-free campus.

  • Senior Awards, Speakers and Singers

    The Senior Awards are presented to a select group of graduating seniors who are members of the Class of 2017 and who meet the following criteria for each award:

    Silver Key

    Applicant has a cumulative grade point average between 3.00 and 4.00, significant involvement within the major area of academic concentration, and participation in co-curricular activities within the university community.

    Special Recognition

    Applicants have demonstrated involvement within the major area of academic concentration and demonstration of significant involvement in co-curricular activities within the college community.

    Student Commencement Speakers and Singers Application Information

    Student commencement speakers and singers are selected through an application and interview process. Completed applications are due by March 10, 2017.


    Questions may be directed to Kathleen Neville, School of Graduate Studies for graduate students, and to Rebecca Jimenez, director, student activities and involvement for undergraduate students.

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