Commencement

Image - Group of 2019 Southwestern graduates with teal to purple gradient overlay

We can't wait to celebrate with you!

Commencement 2024 will be on Friday, May 17, 2024, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Ceremony planning is underway. Check back for updates.

Commencement ceremony planning is underway! This year, Southwestern is celebrating its one-hundred-and-ninth annual commencement ceremony on Friday, May 17, 2024, at the Rose Bowl. All students who have successfully completed coursework for the J.D., LL.M., or J.D./M.B.A. during Fall 2023, January 2024, Spring 2024, and July 2024 terms are invited to participate in the ceremony.

Grads should check their SW email regularly for Commencement announcements and reminders. Contact commencement@swlaw.edu or visit the Administrative Services Office in W100 for any questions.

Southwestern extends its congratulations to you.


Please submit the Commencement 2024 Form by February 2, 2024. 

  1. Grand Marshal

    The 2024 Grand Marshal will lead the graduation processional line into the stadium and announce graduate names during the distribution of diplomas. The Grand Marshal Election Ballot Form will be emailed to graduating students in October 2023. The last day to vote is November 17, 2023. The election results will be announced via email.

  2. Commencement Program

    The Commencement program lists graduates in alphabetical order in order of degree, with LL.M. graduates listed first, followed by J.D. graduates. Honors Programs participants, recipients of certain scholarships or awards, and torch bearer graduates will be identified in the program as well. A graduate is considered to be a torch bearer if a member of the student's immediate family is a Southwestern alum, faculty, or staff member. Commencement programs will be available at the entrance of the venue and digitally online.

    Confirmation of your name and degree is required for the Program. An email will be sent to your SW email to confirm the information that will appear on the Program. Your response is required by February 23, 2024.

    Questions about your degree should be sent to registrar@swlaw.edu.

  3. Graduate Admin Day

    Graduate Admin Days will be held on April 9 and 10, 2024 from 3:00pm - 6:00pm at BW 2nd Floor.  Graduates can pick up their cap and gown, invitations, and purchase stoles. Grads will be required to show an ID.

    If you cannot attend the Graduate Admin Days, a friend or relative may pick up your Commencement items for you. Send a written authorization via email to commencement@swlaw.edu before distribution dates to make these arrangements. The friend or relative must show an ID to retrieve the items. You must receive approval from the Administrative Services Office for this request.

    After Graduate Admin Day, commencement items will be available for pick up at the Administrative Services Office (W100). The office hours are Monday – Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Regalia cannot be mailed and must be picked up on campus.

  4. Tickets

    Ticket requests can be made through the Commencement 2024 Form. Graduates may request up to 8 tickets, and should only request the actual number of tickets needed. Each guest must have a ticket in order to enter the Rose Bowl stadium. A guest ticket will be required for children age 2+ and requiring their own seat.  Requests through the form is due by February 2, 2024.

    Information about additional tickets will not be available until after all the ticket requests have been tallied. An email notification will be sent to all graduates once additional tickets are available for request.

  5. Caps and Gowns

    Southwestern’s traditional regalia includes the black gowns with rounded sleeves marked with three purple velvet bars, academic hood, and a tam. Graduates may order their tam, gown, and hood by completing and submitting the online Commencement 2024 Form. The form must be submitted by February 2, 2024. Disposable measuring tapes are available in the Administrative Services Office in W100. Your order will be placed with the Collegiate Cap and Gown Company and will be available for pick-up during Graduate Admin Day in April.

    The tam, gown, and hood are rentals and must be returned to Southwestern immediately after the ceremony. Tams, gowns, and hoods will be collected near the Rose Bowl exit after the ceremony.  There is no additional cost to the graduate for regalia rental, however, the Collegiate Cap and Gown Company will bill students for the full purchase value ($600) for any items which are not returned.

  6. Name Pronunciation

    Graduates may specify how they would like their name to be announced during degree distribution and provide phonetic pronunciation. Name pronunciations may be submitted on the Commencement 2024 Form, which is due by February 2, 2024. Name cards will be distributed at the Graduate Check-in, which the students will hand to the Grand Marshal during degree distribution.

  7. National Anthem

    Graduates with singing experience are invited to audition to sing the National Anthem at the 2024 Commencement ceremony. To qualify, the graduate must be a December 2023, January 2024, May 2024, or July 2024 Southwestern graduate, complete and submit the National Anthem Audition and Application Form to commencement@swlaw.edu or to Administrative Services (W100) by 6 p.m. on March 1, 2024, and be prepared to sing the National Anthem acapella. Auditions will be performed before a panel of judges.

  8. Stoles

    Stoles will be available for purchase by graduates who have been on the Dean’s List, Dean's Fellow, or completed at least one year of participation in any of the following academic co-curricular honors or extracurricular service programs: Journal of International Law, Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, Law Review, Moot Court, Negotiation Honors Program, Student Bar Association, and Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP). Graduates who have participated in multiple academic groups may purchase stoles for $20 each. Stoles will be distributed during the Graduate Admin Day. The stoles are yours to keep and should not be returned to Collegiate Cap and Gown with the other Commencement regalia after the ceremony.

  9. Student Speaker

    Graduates are invited to apply to become the Commencement 2024 Student Speaker. To qualify, the graduate must be a December 2023, January 2024, May 2024, or July 2024 Southwestern graduate, currently be in good academic standing and be present at Southwestern’s 2024 Commencement. For consideration, please submit the Student Speaker Application Form and your speech to commencement@swlaw.edu or to Administrative Services (W100) by 6:00 p.m. on March 1, 2024, and be prepared to present a draft of the speech to the graduation speaker committee, if selected as a finalist. The speech must be original work and cannot exceed 5 minutes. The selection criteria are based on: quality of speech, substance of speech, quality of oral presentation, representation of graduating class, academic achievement, service to Southwestern student body, and community service.

  10. Torch Bearer

    Graduates with torch bearer status at Southwestern will be identified in the Commencement program and will be given a torch bearer chord to wear at the ceremony. Additionally, the SW alum family member will be invited to join the graduate on the field and participate in degree distribution. A graduate is considered to be a torch bearer graduate if a member of the student’s immediate family is a Southwestern alum, faculty, or staff member. Graduates can identify if they are a Torch Bearer on the Commencement 2024 Form that is due on February 2, 2024.

  11. Photographs

    The law school has arranged with a professional company to photograph the graduates. During the ceremony, a photographer will take pictures from the stage of each graduate receiving his/her diploma. The photographer will email ordering information directly to graduates approximately five days after the commencement ceremony. Complete the Grad Images Photo section on the Commencement 2024 Form by February 2, 2024. The form is available on the Commencement portal page.

  12. Invitations

    Eight Invitations will be provided to each graduate. Commencement invitations will be distributed at the Graduate Admin Day in April. Invitations are not personalized and are sent to individuals who will be attending the commencement ceremony.

  13. Announcements

    The commencement announcement and invitation texts are substantially different. Announcements state the pertinent information concerning graduation (e.g., degree awarded, date degree received, etc.) and are sent to individuals who will not be attending the commencement ceremony. Please allow approximately four weeks for order processing. The link for ordering announcements is not yet available and will be sent to graduates via email in January 2024.

  14. Ceremony Details

    Place, Date, and Time

    Commencement will be held on Friday, May 17, 2024, at the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl is located at 1001 Rose Bowl Dr. in Pasadena. The ceremony will promptly begin at 10:00 a.m. and conclude by 12:00 p.m.

    Arrival Time and Assembly Area

    The graduate entrance location will be announced at a later date. Graduates must be at check-in area by 8:30 a.m. Graduates should arrive robed, and if applicable, wear your stole(s). Graduates should hold on to their name pronunciation card that will be given to them at check-in. The card will be given to the Grand Marshals during diploma distribution. Staff will be available to assist with robing.

    All belongings will need to remain with the graduate at all times. Graduates will not return to the check-in area after the event. It is suggested that personal belongings are left with your family members. Any items left behind will be turned in to the Rose Bowl lost and found.

    Processional Line

    Beginning at 9:30 a.m., the student processional line formation will be organized by staff members. The graduate line is organized alphabetically by degree program to help your family and friends know when you will be receiving your diploma for photographic and videotaping opportunities. At 10:00 a.m., the faculty processional line will walk into the stadium field first, followed by the grand marshals and the graduates. Staff members will be located on the field to direct grads where to sit.

    Parking

    Parking is available in Lot F. There is no fee for parking. Make sure to allow time for parking and getting to the gate entrance. A shuttle cart will be available for disabled guests requiring assistance from the parking lot to the gate entrance. Tailgating and congregating in the parking lot is not permitted.

    All guests must leave immediately after the ceremony. Vehicles left in the parking lot longer than 30 minutes after the conclusion of the event will be towed at the owner’s expense.

    Guest Entrance

    Guest entrance location will be announced at a later date. The entrance will open at 9:00 a.m.

    Seating for Disabled Guests

    Reserved seating will be available for disabled guests. Disabled guests seating is fully ramped and located close to the tunnel entrance/exit.  Ushers will be available to assist with disabled seating.

    Prohibited Items

    • Flowers for the graduates are permitted, but no other gifts are allowed in the venue.
    • Balloons, air horns, noise makers, including vuvuzelas, whistles, speakers, boom boxes, thunder sticks, and musical instruments are not permitted.
    • Outside food/beverages except two (2) 16.9 oz. sealed bottles of water per attendee will not be allowed.
    • Water will be available for purchase near the entrance.
    • You may bring a stroller, however, stroller storage is not permitted in aisles or under seats and guests must check strollers at guest services.
    • No bags/clutches larger than 4.5" x 6.5".
    • Diaper bags accompanied by an infant are permitted.
    • No umbrellas
    • No weapons or projectiles
    • No animals
    • No banners, signs, flags, poles, or sticks
    • No drones
    • No coolers
    • No cans, bottles, or alcoholic beverages
    • No boxes or wrapped packages
    • No unauthorized cameras with lenses longer than 3.5", interchangeable or telephoto lenses
    • No laser pointers
    • No fireworks, firecrackers, or confetti poppers.

     

  15. Class Rings

    Class ring information is available in the Southwestern Bookstore. Styles range from traditional to contemporary and cost between $250.00 and $600.00. A $30.00 deposit must accompany all orders, or the total amount may be charged on a Visa or MasterCard. Delivery typically occurs six to eight weeks after an order is placed. The law school will make arrangements to have a Jostens representative available during Grad Admin Days in April 2024.

  16. Diploma Frames

    The Southwestern Bookstore offers several diploma frame styles. The frame price range is $160 to $255. Visit the Bookstore or go visit their website at https://www.bkstr.com/southwesternlawstore/search/keyword/alumni for the diploma frames and other alumni merchandise. 

  17. Questions

    The Administrative Services Office is open Mondays through Thursdays between 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and virtually on Fridays between 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. to assist you with your Commencement questions or arrangements. Administrative Services may also be contacted at (213) 738-6800 or via email at commencement@swlaw.edu.

  18. History of the Academic Dress

    The traditional academic attire that we see as a somber yet colorful part of commencement exercises had its beginnings in the Middle Ages when the university first developed as an institution of higher learning.

    The most important centers of intellectual life in the 10th Century were the monasteries -- centers least affected by the disorders of the time. The relative stability of the monastic life left monks free to develop systematic graded education for the first time in the history of Western society. The first students were monks and priests, and the costumes they wore were more for protection from the weather than as distinctive regalia for the scholarly way of life. Caps were a necessity in the cold, drafty buildings and capes and hoods were also worn for warmth. In later centuries, as the British universities passed from the control of the monasteries, the costumes took on brighter colors, and the hood was singled out as the item to be made distinctive for various degrees by color, trimming, and lining.

    The use of caps, gowns, and hoods has been continuous in the United States since Colonial times -- the tradition having been transplanted from Oxford and Cambridge to the New World. However, the dress code was modified and the vivid colors so prevalent in Great Britain were eliminated. Prior to 1895, faculty academic costumes varied widely from university to university. Since few people knew the distinguishing marks or colors for the various degrees, the dress code was standardized for all American universities. At the same time, students began a movement which would spread throughout the country to make academic regalia an integral part of the commencement ceremony. A desire to make the festivities more impressive and interesting as well as to add grace and dignity to the ceremony led the students in this successful endeavor.

    The academic color for law is purple. Southwestern Law School regalia consists of a black robe with three velvet bars, a tam with purple tassel, and a purple and white satin hood.

    Students who have been on the Dean’s List (top 10% of each class at the end of each academic year) or participated in academic co-curricular honors or extracurricular service programs are wearing stoles in distinguishing colors as follows:  Dean’s List – scarlet with white lettering, Dean's Fellow - light green with white lettering, Law Review - gold with purple lettering, Moot Court Honors Program- white with purple lettering, Negotiation Honors Program – green with white lettering, Trial Advocacy Honors Program - purple with white lettering, Journal of International Law - purple with gold lettering, Journal of Media and Entertainment Law – silver with purple lettering, Student Bar Association - navy blue with gold lettering, and Law Commentator - light blue with white lettering. Southwestern Torch Bearers are wearing silver chord, honoring their connection with Southwestern alumni, faculty, or staff members. Military Veterans are wearing red, white, and blue chords. Students with concentrations are distinguished as follows: Civil Litigation and Advocacy - gold; Criminal Law and Advocacy - teal; Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies - forest green; Entertainment and Media Law - purple; Labor and Employment Law - white; Public Interest Law - burgundy; and Technology Law and Entrepreneurship - royal blue.