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Illinois Commencement FAQ


When is my Commencement Ceremony?

The Illinois commencement date will be June 16, 2018. Illinois graduates are split into two separate ceremonies:

NCE graduates:  10:00am (CST)

CPSA graduates:  2:00pm (CST)

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 a 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 90 minutes.

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 will recieve their commencement tickets electronically to their NLU e-mail account at the end of May.  Please make sure you continue to check your NLU account for information, details, and tickets.

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 12:00pm for the CPSA ceremony.  Graduates must be in line 30 minutes before the ceremony begins.

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.  We recommend that you leave purses, suit jackets, umbrellas, valuables, etc. with families and friends during the ceremony. There is not a secure place to hold your belongings 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

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. Please make sure you bring your cap & gown, there will not be able opportunity to purchase during the ceremony.

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 graduates 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'll fill this out in the graduate line up area.  You will hand this card to the Reader before you walk across the stage to be congratulated and to aid in the pronounciation of your name. 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 photography 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


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. Tickets will be sent electronically through TicketMaster at the end of May. Tickets will be checked at the door, DO NOT allow your guests to duplicate the 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 1:00pm for CPSA.  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.

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!

We will be selling NLU gifts at the ceremony. For NLU apparel and other gifts, visit eCampus.

How many photos will we get?

GradImages photographers will take 2 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.

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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