Frequently Asked Questions

Commencement Banner featuring student in cap and gown smiling as she goes in for a hug with the Dean


Event Date & Location

When and where is Commencement?

Southwestern’s 2024 Commencement ceremony will be held on Friday, May 17, 2024, at the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. The ceremony will begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. and end at 12:00 p.m.

Seating & Ticketing

How many guests are permitted?

Graduates received an email indicating the number of tickets they have been approved for. This includes any additional tickets they may have requested. A guest ticket is required for children aged 2 and older. Children under 2 years old are considered a “lap child” and will not require a seat. 

What is the ticket requirement for children?

A guest ticket is required for children aged 2 and older. Children under age 2 are considered a “lap child” and will not require a seat/ticket.

How do I request guest tickets? Is there a deadline to register for guest tickets?

Graduates are required to request tickets through the Commencement 2024 form, which was due on March 8, 2024. 

How will graduates receive guests’ tickets?

Each graduate who requested tickets received an assigned website link via cell phone text message from Ticketmaster to retrieve all their guest tickets. Once the link is received, there are two distribution options:

  • Option 1: Click on the link sent to you via text message and log into your Ticketmaster account or create an account. Transfer the tickets to your guests via the Ticketmaster site. Follow the instructions on the site on how to make the transfer.
  • Option 2: Click on the link sent to you via text message and log into your Ticketmaster account or create an account. Screenshot each ticket and distribute to each guest individually via text. Each guest will need to show their ticket for scanning upon entry. Each ticket is distinguished by the number on the bottom (i.e. 1 of 8, 2 of 8, etc.)
  • Option 3: If your group is arriving together, forward the link via text to a designated guest who is able to show their phone at the entrance where all the tickets will be scanned upon entry. The designated guest will need to log into their Ticketmaster account or create an account in order to retrieve the tickets.

Important Notes:

  • The 8 invitations you received in your Commencement packets are NOT the tickets. Only the digital Ticketmaster tickets will be accepted at the Rose Bowl.
  • A ticket can only be scanned once. It will no longer be valid once a ticket has been scanned.
  • Each guest must have a ticket in order to enter the Rose Bowl stadium. Graduates do not need a ticket as they will be checked-in by SW staff members at the entrance.
  • Children age 2+ and requiring their own seat, will be required to have a ticket.

How will seating be arranged?

Seating is first come, first serve between tunnels 3 – 6. Handicap seating is available and located on the same level as the tunnel exits. Guests who need to be seated in the designated handicapped area should see a Rose Bowl staff member to request assistance.

Can I request additional tickets?

Additional tickets are no longer available.

Can graduates transfer tickets to another graduate?

Yes. If tickets are transferred to another graduate, it is advised to screenshot the ticket you would like to transfer and distribute via text message, making note of the ticket number located at the bottom (e.g., 1 of 8, 2 of 8, etc.) as the ticket can only be scanned once.

What else should I know about ticketing?

  • All guests must have a ticket to enter the stadium.
  • Tickets can be presented using a mobile phone/other digital device.
  • Guests should have their tickets prior to arriving at the stadium gates.
  • Individuals without a ticket will not be permitted into the event under any circumstances.
  • Guests must remain in their seats throughout the duration of the ceremony except to use the restroom, order concessions, or in the event of an emergency.


Will handicap seating be available?

Yes. Handicap seating is available and is located on the same level as the tunnel exits. Rose Bowl staff will be available to assist guests who need handicap seating. Please note that the accessible seats provide spaces for wheelchairs and one companion seat.

Will wheelchairs be available?

No. Wheelchairs will not be provided onsite.


When can we start arriving?

  • Graduates are asked to begin arriving at 8:30 a.m. and proceed to Gate A – Graduate, Faculty, and BOT Entrance and check-in.
  • Guests will be permitted to enter the stadium at 9:00 a.m. Guests should proceed to the main Gate A entrance after parking.
  • Parking is located at Lot F and will open at 8:00 a.m.


What do I need to know about parking?

  • Guest parking will open at 8:00 a.m.
  • Parking is available in Lot F.
  • Gatherings, tailgates, and loitering are not permitted in parking areas. Failure to comply will result in removal from the parking area.


What are the COVID-19 guidelines for the in-person ceremony at the Rose Bowl?

There will be no COVID-19 protocols or requirements in place for this event. This is subject to change at any time.

Food and Beverage

Are food and beverages allowed?

Food and beverages are not permitted except the following:

  • Two (2) factory-sealed 32 oz. bottles of water are permitted per individual.
  • Two (2) empty 32oz. reusable water bottles.

Are we able to purchase concessions in the stadium?

  • Water and soft drinks will be available for purchase inside the stadium gates.
  • Concessions are cashless.
  • Concessions will close 30 minutes prior to the end of the event.

Is alcohol permitted in the stadium?

Alcohol is not permitted in Rose Bowl Stadium parking areas or inside stadium gates.

Bag Policy

Are bags permitted in the stadium?

Bags, backpacks, luggage, purses, etc. are not permitted in the stadium. However, the following are permitted and will be inspected prior to entry:

  • Clutches smaller than 4.5" x 6.5"
  • Clear bags 12” x 12” or smaller
  • Medical bags
  • Diaper bags accompanied by an infant

Prohibited Items 

What items are not permitted in the stadium?

  • No bags larger than 4.5" x 6.5" – only clutch size will be allowed to enter. Must be 4.5" x 6.5" or smaller to enter. This includes purses, camera bags, backpacks, fanny packs, etc. Clear bags that are 12”x6”x12” or smaller are permitted.
  • Outside food/beverages with the exception of two (2) 16.9 oz. sealed bottles of water per attendee will be allowed to enter or empty reusable bottles.
  • Noisemakers, including vuvuzelas, air horns, whistles, speakers, boom boxes, thunder sticks, and musical instruments.
  • Balloons
  • Balls, toys, or sports equipment
  • Gifts
  • Umbrellas
  • Weapons or projectiles
  • Animals
  • Banners, signs, flags, poles, or sticks
  • Drones
  • Coolers
  • Cans, bottles, alcoholic beverages
  • Boxes or wrapped packages
  • Laser pointers
  • Fireworks, firecrackers, and confetti poppers
  • Stadium seat cushion with metal frames
  • No camera tripods, monopods, or selfie sticks

Non-Smoking Facility

The Rose Bowl Stadium and its surrounding parking lots are non-smoking areas. Use of electronic cigarettes (vapes) and smokeless tobacco products are also prohibited in all areas of the Rose Bowl Stadium.


  • All attendees must exit the Rose Bowl Stadium at the conclusion of the ceremony.
  • Gathering and photo opportunities are not permitted inside stadium gates upon exiting.

Virtual Celebration

Will the ceremony be livestreamed?

Yes. The in-person ceremony will be live-streamed and available on-demand for future viewing. Use this link for both.


How will graduates get their official diploma?

Graduates will receive a mock diploma at the Commencement ceremony. The Registrar’s Office will mail graduates their actual diplomas. Graduates should email with diploma questions.