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Commencement FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligible students invited to participate in Commencement have graduated from July of the previous year to June of the current year. This group makes up the current graduating class. In addition, graduates from prior years who have not yet participated in a Commencement ceremony may attend one ceremony per earned degree.

Yes, online registration is required. The invitation/registration process begins in March. All graduates are required to purchase a cap and gown when they register as well as complete all required registration information.

No, the Graduation Fee and Commencement registration are separate. All students are required to pay the Graduation Fee. Commencement registration is required for graduates who choose to attend and there is a fee for your cap and gown assessed at registration.

Yes, after you register online you will receive a confirmation email immediately. If you do not receive your confirmation, please contact the Commencement Office.

If you are registered to attend Commencement, you will receive your cap and gown when you check in at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on the day of Commencement. For those who have ordered a cap and gown, but are not attending, you will receive it in the mail following the ceremony.

Each cap and gown is custom ordered; we do not have any extras on hand on Commencement Day. Therefore, it's important that we have your correct height and weight information so your gown will fit properly.

The associate and bachelor's degree gowns are black, knee length and have long sleeves; the master's gown is also black, and made with a long, closed sleeve with an arc of a circle appearing near the bottom, and a slit for the arm. The black Oxford or mortarboard-style cap is worn for all degrees.

The most distinctive feature of academic dress is the hood. It varies in length depending on whether the wearer has an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree. The hoods for all degrees are lined in silk with the academic colors of the institution conferring the degree; for Excelsior degrees, that means purple and gold. The trim on all hoods except the associate degree hood is velvet and the color indicates the degree granted: white for arts and letters; drab for business areas; yellow-gold for science; apricot for nursing; and peacock blue for public administration.

In addition, eligible grads may wear cords that indicate membership in an honor society or the achievement of academic honors.

The number of guests is not limited and tickets are not required. However, a large audience is anticipated at the ceremony so an overflow seating area with a monitor will be available with additional guest seating.

The Commencement Ceremony is approximately two hours long. It begins at 3 pm and ends at 5 pm. Immediately following the ceremony there will be a reception located just outside the Convention Hall for all graduates and guests.

Yes, we strongly encourage graduates and their guests to use the shuttle buses as parking at the Empire State Plaza is limited. Reservations are not required.

Note: Graduates and/or guests who require use of an accessible shuttle bus must make prior arrangements by calling the Commencement Office no later than June 14. Only one shuttle bus will be accessible and reservations will be necessary for the accessible shuttle.

There are directions in the printed Commencement invitation booklet. For online or GPS mapping services, use the following addresses:

Empire State Plaza Convention Center/The Egg
279 Madison Avenue
Albany, NY 12210
This address will bring you to the Madison Avenue entrance of the Empire State Plaza. 

GPS coordinates for the Empire State Plaza Parking Lots:
N 42.650674, W 73.760061.

The Desmond Hotel
660 Albany-Shaker Road
Albany, NY 12211

Yes, military graduates are encouraged to wear military uniforms to all Commencement activities, but must wear an academic gown for the ceremony.

Island Photography will take pictures of you as you cross the stage and complimentary proofs will be sent to each graduate for purchase consideration. If family and friends would like to receive a direct link to the photos, visit the Island Photography website to register. Images will be posted within 72 hours of the ceremony. All inquires should be made to Island Photography at 800-869-0908. Purchase is optional.

Yes, handicapped parking is available in the V-Lot, but is not accessible to oversized vehicles due to the height limitations (6-1/2 feet) of this underground facility. Handicapped parking and parking for oversized vehicles is available in the Cathedral Lot. After parking, visitors using wheelchairs should enter Empire State Plaza through the New York State Museum building. Take the elevator to the Concourse level hallway and proceed straight, following signs for the The Egg, Convention Center, and Excelsior College Commencement.

To learn about more local hotel options, go to Keep in mind the following:

  • Downtown area hotels are located near the ceremony site/Convention Center
  • Airport/Wolf Road area hotels are located near the Desmond

The Commencement shuttle buses run from the Desmond Hotel only.

No, the Commencement ceremony is held at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in the Convention Hall.