Illinois Commencement FAQ


When is my Commencement Ceremony?

Illinois graduates are split into two separate ceremonies:

NCE graduates:  Saturday, June 21, 2013, 10:00am (Processional begins at 9:45am)

CAS & CMB graduates:  Saturday, June 21, 2013, 2:30pm (Processional begins at 2:15pm) 

Where is the Ceremony?  How do I get to the Arie Crown Theater?

The ceremonies will be held at the Arie Crown Theater, located at 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616. 

Where do I park?  How much does it cost?

McCormick Place/Arie Crown Theater offers convenient underground parking for all performances. There is an $21.00 parking fee. The garage is accessible for entrance up to a half-hour after the scheduled performance begins.

How long is the ceremony?

Each ceremony should last approximately 2 hours.

I have not received information about the commencement ceremony, should I worry? Am I registered for the ceremony?

Registered Commencement participants will receive emails through their NLU e-mail account periodically with reminders about ordering your regalia, and upcoming events and information for graduating students. 

Registered participants can pick up their commencement tickets and information packet at Commencement Fairs scheduled on each campus.  If a student is unable to attend any of the fairs, their tickets will be mailed to their permanent address on file approximately one month before the ceremony. 

If you are not receiving information, and you completed your Degree Finalization Request, stating you would attend the Illinois Ceremony, please contact the Commencement Office at 312-261-3568 or 

Commencement Day

When do I need to arrive?

Graduate Line-up opens 2 hours prior to the start of each ceremony, 8:00am for the NCE ceremony and 12:30pm for the CAS & CMB ceremony. 

Participants arriving less than half an hour before the start of the ceremony may not be able to walk and be seated with their classmates, but will join the processional at the end of the line, so please arrive early to find your group. 

Where Should I go when I get there?

All commencement participants should go directly to the graduate line-up area located downstairs from the main Arie Crown Theater lobby.  

What should I bring?

Please remember to bring your cap and gown and your reader card.  We recommend that you leave purses, suit jackets, umbrellas, valuables, etc. with their families and friends during the ceremony. 

Do we have to sit in a specific order?

Graduates will be seated in groups based on degree program. Marshals will have signs showing the beginning of each program/major. You may sit with your friends as long as they are receiving the same degree. 

What do I do if I have mobility issues or other special needs?

Wheelchair seating will be available for graduates, and a wheelchair ramp will allow participants with special needs to receive their diplomas.  Please specify that you need wheelchair seating on your Degree Finalization or contact to allow us to assist you in advance. If you require special assistance during the ceremony and/or need to sit on the aisle, please inform the Marshal assigned to your line.


How do I order my cap & gown?

You should order your cap & gown online from Herff Jones.  Herff Jones will also be on each campus during our Commencement Fairs if you need assistance with online ordering.

When should I get it?

Your cap & gown will be shipped to your home.  Please allow 2-3 weeks for manufacturing.  Once your order ships, a shipment confirmation email including the tracking number will be sent to the email address you provided. 

I have a specific question about my regalia order.

All concerns or questions regarding your apparel should be directed to Helen LeDonne at Herff Jones at (312) 265-1576 or

What should I wear under my cap & gown?

The Arie Crown Theater, including the graduate line-up area, is air-conditioned. We recommend that women wear low-heeled shoes because of the amount of standing and walking.  Please use caution in going up and down stairs in gowns.

Where does my tassel go?

For Undergraduate degrees, your tassel should start on the right side of cap, and move to left after degree is awarded (there will be a point in the ceremony where you are instructed to move your tassel).
For graduate degrees, the tassel starts on left side of your cap and remains there

How do I wear my hood?

Doctoral degree recipients will be hooded during the ceremony by a faculty member, so should carry, not wear their hood into the ceremony.

Masters degree recipients, place the hood around your neck and shoulders so that the major portion hangs down the back and the velvet is up.  Fasten the cord in front of the hood to your shirt, dress or gown to keep the hood away from your neck.  Fasten the cord in the back of the hood to the button that is at the top back of the hood. The cord helps to keep the hood in place to show the lining.

Reader Cards

What’s the reader card for?

The reader card is your ticket to the commencement ceremony.  You will hand this card to the Reader before you walk across the stage to be congratulated, to help them pronounce your name correctly. The photographer also uses it to verify addresses and mail proofs of your pictures to you.  It is important that YOU fill out the card completely, including a permanent email address to receive your proofs. 

How do I fill out my reader card?

Please print your name phonetically and clearly on the back of the card the way that you want it announced when you go across the stage

I lost my reader card!  What do I do?

If you misplace your card, a replacement card may be obtained at the information table located in the graduate Line-Up Area, directly to the right as you go down the stairs.


How many tickets do I get for guests?

The number of guest tickets each participant receives is determined by the number of students participating in each ceremony.  For the Illinois ceremony, all students will receive 7 tickets. There will be no extra tickets available. Arie Crown theater will allow guests without tickets to attend AFTER the graduates have taken their seats. These guests will be allowed to sit in the balcony.

When should guests arrive?

Arie Crown Theater doors open for guests an hour prior to the beginning of the ceremony, 9:00am for NCE and 1:30pm for CAS & CMB.  Ticketed guests will be guaranteed a seat until the processional begins.  Fifteen minutes prior to the ceremony start time, guests will be held at the door to allow the Graduate Processional to enter the theater. Please remind your guests to arrive early and take their seats before the processional. 

Do I need a ticket for myself?

No, the reader card is your ticket to the ceremony.

What if I have more guests than tickets?

After the ceremony begins, tickets will no longer be needed and all those waiting to get into the ceremony will be given the remaining seats.  Because the ceremony will already be in progress, only seats in the balcony will be available for guests without tickets or guests arriving after the ceremony begins.


I lost my tickets!  What do I do?

If you lose your tickets, your guests will have to wait until after the ceremony begins and enter the theater with other guests without tickets.  Because the ceremony will already be in progress, only seats in the balcony will be available for guests without tickets.  Please put your tickets in a safe place where you will remember them.

What accommodations are there for my guests with special needs?

If your guests need wheelchair seating, require a sign language interpreter, are mobility impaired, but not in a wheelchair, or need any other assistance, NLU and the Arie Crown Theater will provide reasonable accommodations.  Please indicate the number and needs of your guests on your degree finalization or call the commencement office at 312-261-3568.   

Arie Crown Theater ushers will assist guests with special needs in finding seats.  Arie Crown Theater does not provide wheelchairs for guest transportation.  Guests who cannot walk long distances should be dropped off at Gate 31 prior to parking.  Wheelchair seating will be available for guests in their own wheelchairs.

Are there restrictions on what guests can bring into the theater?

For security, the Arie Crown Theater will not permit you or your guests to bring any balloons, backpacks or large bags into the theater.  They will be confiscated.  Arie Crown Staff will not hold balloon bouquets during the ceremony, and guests will be requested to return balloon bouquets to their cars. Please make your guests aware of this so they are not disappointed.Diaper bags will be allowed for parents with infants or small children


Where do I order a class ring?

If you are interested in purchasing a class ring, you can obtain detailed information from Herff Jones. 

Can I get other NLU memoribilia?

In addition to regalia and class rings, Herff Jones offers Diploma Frames, Graduation Announcements, and Souvenir Tassels!

For NLU apparel and other gifts, visit eCampus.

How many photos will we get?

GradImages photographers will take 3 different poses as you walk across the stage, and send proofs to you using the contact information you provide on your reader card.   You will also have the opportunity to take a formal graduation portrait AND a professional portrait at the Commencement Fairs held on each campus.

How do I contact the Commencement Office?

If you read through this page and still have questions, or need specific information on your Commencement registration, please e-mail us at or call us at 312-261-3568


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