General Information for Guests

Arrival Times and Location

Both ceremonies are held at The Commencement Lawn by the Lakes.

Please plan to arrive an hour before the ceremony to make your way on to campus.

    9 a.m. - noon ceremony.
  • School of Arts and Humanities
  • School of Business and Economics
  • School of Education
    3 - 6 p.m. ceremony
  • School of Science and Technology
  • School of Social Sciences

Ceremonies last 3 hours. We proudly call every graduates name as part of Commencement. Please plan to attend the complete ceremony.

Majors Listed by Academic School

Arts & Humanities American Multicultural Studies, Art, Art History, Chicano and Latino Studies, Communication Studies, English, Fine Arts, French, Liberal Studies (Hutchins School), Music, Organization Development, Philosophy, Spanish, Theatre Arts

Business & Economics Business Administration, Economics

Education Early Childhood Studies, Education

Science & Technology Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer and Engineering Science, Computer Science, Earth Science, Engineering Science, Geology, Interdisciplinary Studies/Special Major, Kinesiology, Mathematics, Nursing, Physics, Statistics

Social Sciences Anthropology, Counseling, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Cultural Resources Management, Environmental Studies, Geography, Global Studies, History, Human Development, Liberal Studies (Ukiah/Napa Programs), Political Science, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies

Guest Seating

Due to the large crowd expected (about 5,000 per ceremony) and the limited seating capacity, graduates are asked to invite no more than four guests. Seating is on a first-come basis. All guests should be seated at least 30 minutes before the ceremony or risk missing the processional as certain pathways will be closed while the graduates walk in.

Webcast Viewing of Commencement

We encourage family and friends to view the ceremonies with the live webcast. A link to the live webcast can be found at

Download the Livestream app and watch the live webcast of the 2015 Sonoma State Commencement ceremony on your personal electronic devise or tablet. Once you download and open the Livestream app, search for Sonoma State University to watch live.

On campus viewing will be in the Student Center Ballroom. Seating in the viewing rooms is on a first-come basis.


Parking permits are not required on Commencement day. All lots are open and available. Only park in disabled parking spaces if you are legally able to do so with a valid placard. See campus map for locations. Lot G is designated for disabled parking only. You must have a valid disabled placard to park in Lot G.

Guests with Disabilities or Mobility Limitations

The assigned seating area is for guests who have disabilities, mobility limitations and for those needing an American Sign Language interpreter, who will be stationed nearby. 

The Commencement area is within walking distance of parking lots and guests should bring their own wheelchairs, walkers, etc. Guests needing assistance from a friend or family member may have that person sit with them.

To request an assigned seating guest pass, please fill out the form for guests with disabilities or mobility limitations and return by April 22.

For additional information please email: or call: (707) 664-2404. Requests should be made by April 21. If you miss the deadline, guests should go directly to the assigned seating area on the Commencement Lawn upon arrival. We will make every effort to accommodate those who have not made reservations in advance.

In order to process your guest pass request, provide the following information:
1) Name of guest sitting in assigned seating. Indicate if the guest will have a helper sitting with them.
2) Indicate if the guest is attending the morning or afternoon ceremony.
3) Specific needs of guest: i.e.: limited mobility requires a sign language interpreter, etc.
4) Mailing address where pass should be mailed.

You must have a valid disable placard to park in Lot G. A campus map will be included when assigned seating guest passes are mailed. University employees will be available to transport guests with limited mobility using golf carts or their own wheelchairs from the parking Lot G to the Commencement Lawn/Assigned Seating area.

Maps, Campus and Area

Campus and area maps are available online. The main campus map slows the location of the Commencement Lawn and parking lots.

Professional Diploma Photographs

Photographers will take each graduate's photograph as he or she receives his or her diploma. Graduates will receive an e-mail proof of their photo within a few days of the ceremony. E-mail addresses will be written by the graduates on cards that they fill out when lined up prior to the ceremonies. Orders can be placed once photo proofs are received. Students may list a second email address for family to also receive a digital proof

Personal Photography

Audience members are free to take photographs or to video, however they should do so from their seating area and take care not to disrupt the ceremony, block another person's view, or in any way detract from the enjoyment of the event. Professional photographs of each student receiving his or her diploma will be taken and are available for purchase (see above).

Commencement Programs

Printed programs containing the order of ceremony, names of graduates, a list of faculty, and other information about the campus and Commencement will be distributed on Commencement day. Guests will be able to pick up their programs as they enter the Commencement area.


The Sonoma State University Children’s School, a program of the Associated Students, Inc., offers a variety of flowers for sale from booths at various campus sites on Commencement day. Proceeds benefit the Children’s School.


Food and beverages are available for sale at concession booths around campus beginning at 8 a.m. Please see Commencement map for locations.


Consumption of alcoholic beverages is not permitted before, during or after Commencement. Drinking and misconduct by even a few would be disturbing to the graduates, faculty, and guests who expect and deserve a safe, orderly, and dignified ceremony. Any graduate who appears to be intoxicated will not be permitted to participate in the ceremony.

University Store

The University Store will be open Commencement day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. See the Commencement map for additional booth locations around campus where SSU memorabilia can be purchased.


Restrooms are located in the Art Buildings, Stevenson Hall, Salazar Hall and the gymnasium. Maps of restrooms will be available at many locations during Commencement and in the Commencement program.


Smoking and use of tobacco, will be strictly limited to parking lots. Lit tobacco or other smoking products must be extinguished and butts or other residue must be properly disposed of prior to leaving these areas. Such items must never be discarded on the ground or pavement.

Cell Phones

Please silent cell phones and personal electronic devices during the ceremony.


Only service animals are permitted at Commencement or on the University grounds on Commencement day. Service animals need to be clearly identified. No other animals are permitted.

First Aid

An emergency first aid station will be set up near the northeast side of the International Hall building. Look for signage on Commencement day.

A Special Message About the Weather

It has rained during recent graduation ceremonies. Ceremonies will proceed in inclement weather. A reminder that the seating area is not covered and the lawns in this area and on campus can become wet and muddy. Please proceed with caution when navigating the lawns- in particular guests with limited mobility should take special care. In case of rain, bring raincoats and appropriate footwear.

Please check the local weather forecast to be best prepared. The weather can be very warm, and there is little shade available at the Commencement site.

In Case of Rain

The ceremony will go forward, on the Commencement Lawn even in the event of rain. Please note the ceremony may be abbreviated to ensure the safety of all graduates, guests, faculty and staff. Speeches could be omitted from the program and names may not be able to be read.

Information and Lost and Found

An information and lost and found center, north of the Commons will be set up and staffed on Commencement day.

Meeting Guests after the Ceremony

Graduates are urged to make arrangements before Commencement to meet family and friends after the ceremonies at the academic School receptions or another pre-designated location. Please remind guests that the audience must remain in their seats during the Recessional.

Commencement Definition

A ceremony at which academic degrees or diplomas are conferred.

Graduation Definition

the successful completion of a program of study.

Academic School Receptions

Each Academic School hosts an informal reception for graduates and their guests immediately following the Commencement ceremonies. Refreshments are served. The receptions provide a good opportunity for graduates to greet faculty and introduce family and friends, and for informal photographs.