Preparing for Commencement

The 2015 SPH Commencement Ceremony will be held Saturday, May 16, at 1:30 p.m. at Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Avenue. Each year, Boston University also holds an All-University Commencement Ceremony in May. The 2015 All-University Commencement Ceremony will be held Sunday, May 17, at 1 p.m. at Nickerson Field, 285 Babcock Street. Tickets will not be required for either ceremony.

This guide has been prepared in an effort to anticipate as many questions as possible. As Commencement approaches, graduates will receive additional and more specific information. Important information about Commencement will be mailed to the address that is on file with the Registrar’s Office. Please contact us with any questions. Commencement is a rite of completion, and the ceremony honors the achievement of the graduates and expresses the pleasure, excitement, and pride of their families, teachers, and friends.

Please see the information below for specific details regarding preparation for the Commencement Exercises:

I. RSVP Form

If you are planning to attend the ceremony, it is imperative that you fill out the SPH Commencement RSVP form.  This allows us to have your diploma ready and your name read as part of the marching procession at the SPH ceremony.  If you are not planning on attending, please let us know on this form.  Please RSVP no later than Friday, April 17th.

 II. Academic Regalia

If you are a master’s degree candidate, academic regalia (cap, gown, tassel, and hood) must be purchased for Commencement ceremonies.  Doctoral candidates may rent academic dress.  Please visit the Barnes and Noble Bookstore website for details regarding purchasing regalia.

January 1 through March 16 online ordering is available through Herff Jones and includes a $10 discount on all regalia packages. With online orders, you’ll have the option of home delivery or pick-up at Barnes & Noble @ BU, with the exception of doctoral regalia, available for in-store pick-up only

Beginning April 20th, through Commencement weekend, regalia will be on sale for in-store purchasing at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore at Boston University on the Charles River Campus. The Bookstore is located in Kenmore Square and is accessible from the Kenmore stop on the MBTA green line.  The “regalia s hop” is located on the fourth floor of the Bookstore. Please call (617) 267-8484 for store hours. Master sets of regalia are priced at $113.  Doctoral rentals are priced at $95.

The School of Public Health has a limited supply of academic regalia for students to borrow who find it a financial burden to attend commencement and would otherwise not be able to go without the ability to receive regalia on loan.  Loaner regalia will be available on a first come first served basis beginning Tuesday, April 14th starting at 10am. Students can visit Student Services in Talbot 206C or 209C between 10am-6pm Mon-Thurs, or Fri 9am-5pm, for loaner regalia.

The Masters of Public Health academic dress consists of a red gown, a black mortarboard (cap), a salmon-colored tassel and a hood.  The hood has an external salmon band with a black border and an internal white band with a red border.  Please note that each college within Boston University has different hood and tassel colors.

We recommend that you obtain regalia early.  Do not wait for the week before graduation when an error or shortage cannot be corrected!

III. Student Speaker

The BUSPH Administration selects the student speaker for the SPH Commencement.  The selection is based on nominations from graduating students, faculty, and review of academic records.  Students who graduated in September 2014, January 2015, or are tentatively scheduled to graduate in May 2015 are eligible for nominations.  Tentative September 2015 graduates are eligible to be the student speaker at the May 2016 Commencement ceremony.

The deadline to submit the Student Speaker Nomination is Friday, April 3rd 2015.

IV. Norman A. Scotch Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Norman A. Scotch Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding and sustained contributions to the education program of Boston University School of Public Health. The award is meant to recognize individuals, faculty or others, who have substantially enriched the educational experience for the students at the School.  For the purposes of this award, teaching is broadly defined to include superior performance in classroom teaching, innovation and creativity in course design, commitment to the advising and mentoring of students, and/or excellence in other activities that contribute to student education.

Please take a moment to nominate a teacher or colleague whom you believe fulfills the criteria for this important recognition.  As recent winners Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Taryn Vian, Vicky Parker, James Wolff and Sophie Godley are not eligible this year.

The deadline to submit the Norman Scotch Award Nomination is Friday, April 3rd, 2015.

V. Assistance for People with Disabilities

Accessible seating and parking is available for guests with disabilities and their companions and/or family members at the All-University Commencement Exercises at Nickerson Field as well as at individual school/college convocations.

Arrangements for accessible guest seating, parking and other services may be made through the Office of Disability Services. Please refer to the disability section of the Commencement website for more information and instructions on how to request these services beginning April 1.

VI. Parking & Public Transportation

All campus parking lots will be open throughout the weekend unless otherwise noted. Due to the anticipated traffic on Commonwealth Avenue during Commencement Weekend, graduates and guests are urged to use public transportation to and from campus whenever possible. For your convenience, the University will provide shuttle bus service to stops along Commonwealth Avenue throughout the weekend.   Visit the Visitor Parking & Public Transport website for for shuttle route map. Where the shuttle route doesn’t reach, you can quickly and easily hop on a bus or a train from campus to various places in the city and beyond. Check the MBTA site at for maps and schedules or to use their trip planner.

A Commencement parking map will be available on the Parking & Transportation Services website by mid-April. Traffic along Commonwealth Avenue can become heavily congested, and long delays should be expected. You are strongly encouraged to arrive early, park your vehicle close to your last venue of the day and move about campus by foot or shuttle.  Generally speaking parking spaces will be found more easily to the east of BU Bridge.

VII. Outstanding Student Account Balance

Students must complete payment of any outstanding balance by April 30, 2015 to ensure the release of diplomas is not delayed for financial reasons. The University will make every effort to ensure that students who meet academic requirements but do not settle their accounts by April 30 will have their diploma awarded at Commencement.  However, this cannot be guaranteed.  Please contact Student Accounting Services at 617-353-2264 if your account is not settled, or stop by the SPH Registrar’s Office if you need assistance in understanding your account.  Students can access their accounts through the Student Link at

VIII. Institutional and/or Federal Stafford Direct Loans

If you received institutional and/or Federal Stafford Direct Loans, you must schedule an exit interview with the Office of Student Financial Services before you graduate.  Please schedule an exit interview at OSFS in the A-building, 3rd floor.  This is a federal and Boston University requirement.  If you do not have an exit interview prior to graduation, your diploma will be withheld.  Please call 617-638-5130 if you have any questions.

IX. SPH Commencement Website

Please see the Student Services Commencement website for more information about hotels, area restaurants, parking, transportation, directions, and much more.