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A group of four female graduates pose. Spring commencement at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (College of Arts and Sciences ceremony). Photo by Steven Bridges

Ceremony Details

The College of Arts & Sciences 2020 Spring Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 9th at 9:00 a.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena.

RSVP Required

The online RSVP form is located here. To participate in the graduation ceremony, graduates must have a seating card. Tickets are not required for guests. Students can pick up their seating card during the last week of classes. Students will be able to pick up their seating card at the tables set up in front of room 312 in Ayres Hall from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm on Thursday, April 23rd, Friday, April 24th and Monday, April 27th.

Although tickets are not required for guests, we still need to know the number of guests attending for planning purposes.

Graduation Rehearsal

A rehearsal is scheduled for Thursday, May 7th, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the James R. Cox Auditorium, located on the second floor of Alumni Memorial Building. The rehearsal will allow graduating students to see how commencement works and will include information concerning the process for crossing the stage, professional photography provided, seating arrangements, etc. For these reasons, we highly recommend you attend the rehearsal, but we understand if it conflicts with prior commitments. If you are unable to attend, a family member or friend is welcome to pick up the printed material distributed at the rehearsal on your behalf. These materials will be available from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Office of the Dean, Room 312 Ayres Hall.

Arrival Time and Seating

Thompson-Boling Arena will open at 7:30 a.m. on the day of commencement. Graduates with seating cards and guests will be permitted to enter the arena beginning at this time.  In determining your time of arrival, please keep in mind that seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for graduates and their guests.

  • Graduates: The seating card is your ticket into the arena and into the graduate seating section on the arena floor. You will be asked to show your seating card to gain entrance to the arena floor. Please arrive at the arena dressed in proper regalia and enter on the main concourse level. Any student suspected to be under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance will be subject to arrest and will be prohibited from participating in the ceremony.Students are seated on a first-come, first-served basis, not alphabetically or by major. Please be seated in the graduate section by 8:00 a.m., as the college may be unable to accommodate students arriving after this time. Please refrain from cell phone use before and during the ceremony, and avoid bringing personal belongings (e.g., purse) into the graduate section. The college and Thompson-Boling Arena are not responsible for valuables left unattended. Programs will be placed in students’ seats prior to their arrival.
  • Guests: guest tickets are not required for entry to the arena. Guests should enter the arena on the main concourse level where programs will be provided. Please note that concessions will not be available on the day of commencement.For information regarding accommodations for persons with disabilities or mobility concerns, please click here.

Crossing the Stage

Ushers will prompt students when to rise and move toward the stage. Make sure you take your seating card with you! As you approach the stage, you will give your seating card to the Reader of Names to receive recognition as you cross.


As a courtesy to all in attendance, guests will not be permitted on the arena floor for photography purposes. A professional photographer will photograph graduates as they shake the dean’s hand on stage. A second photographer will take a professional studio shot once they exit the stage. If you have any questions regarding the professional photography (e.g., when you will receive proofs, how to order, pricing), please contact Grad Images at 800-628-4509, ext. 3581, or visit


Immediately following their second photo, graduates will be directed to the graduate seating section where they will remain until the conclusion of the ceremony. Once the ceremony has been adjourned, students may meet their guests and depart from the arena. The ceremony will last approximately two and a half hours.

Students Graduating with Honors

The following information is taken from the Academic Policies and Procedures section of the Undergraduate Catalog.

Honors are conferred upon graduating undergraduate students who have displayed a high level of achievement during their university career. Students graduating with honors must meet the following university criteria for conferral of honors:

  1. Recipients of honors receive their degrees with cum laude (3.50 through 3.64), magna cum laude (3.65 through 3.79), and summa cum laude (3.80 through 4.00). Grade point averages are not “rounded up” to achieve honors status.
  2. IMPORTANT! These honors categories are based on a student’s cumulative average at the end of the semester preceding the graduation semester (Fall 2019)—not this semester!

If you meet these requirements and are a spring graduate, your name will be listed with the appropriate honors category in the spring commencement program regardless of whether you attend the ceremony. If you meet these requirements and are a summer graduate, your name—but not your honors category—will be listed in the spring commencement program, since summer grades will not be submitted in time for us to know your “cumulative average at the end of the semester preceding the graduation semester” (see university criteria #2). If you meet the requirements once summer semester grades have been submitted, or if you raise your GPA to meet the requirements by the end of summer session, your name will be listed with the appropriate honors category in the following fall commencement program, regardless of whether you attend the spring ceremony.

Spring and summer graduates who meet the university’s criteria for conferral of honors, and who participate in the spring ceremony, will receive a gold honor cord compliments of the college. Honor cords will be distributed at the same time as seating cards. Students will be able to pick up their seating card and honor cords at the tables set up in front of room 312 in Ayres Hall from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm on Thursday, April 23rd, Friday, April 24th and Monday, April 27th. You must show a photo ID to receive your cord.

What if your GPA increases this semester? If, at graduation, your grade point average would allow a higher honors category than that determined at the end of the semester proceeding the graduation semester, the Office of the Registrar will correct the honors category noted on your diploma at no cost to you and will contact you if your diploma mailing will be delayed. The change in GPA does not affect a student’s receiving an honor cord prior to or following the ceremony.

Questions? Only those students whose names are submitted to the college by the Office of the Registrar as deserving honors will receive recognition. If you have a question about your cumulative GPA (as of Fall 2019), visit the One Stop Shop. They are legally unable to discuss such matters by phone or with anyone other than the student in question.


Please remember that commencement is a formal academic ceremony, and appropriate decorum is expected of graduates and their guests. Banners, large signs, and decorated mortarboards that obstruct the view of other participants will not be permitted. Graduates will be asked to remain in their seats for the entire event, as those who exit the arena floor will unfortunately be unable to re-enter the graduates’ seating section during the commencement ceremony.

We hope that everyone attending will focus their attention on our graduates and their accomplishments.