FAQ for Class of 2021

Updated: April 9, 2021

We have received permission from state authorities to host in-person commencement celebrations this spring for the graduating classes of both 2020 and 2021.

The in-person ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students will take place at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. To accommodate the State’s restrictions on density and rules for sanitizing following each event, we will need to schedule graduation ceremonies, twice a day from May 14 to May 25. All ceremonies will combine wonderful elements of USC’s traditional main graduation ceremony with those of individual school and college ceremonies. Every graduate will be invited to one ceremony with their specific school or degree program cohort. Graduates will have the opportunity to process across the stage, hear their name announced, receive their diploma covers, and have photos taken, while projected on the screens at the stadium. Density restrictions require graduates to have no more than two guests.  Due to distancing requirements, it will not be possible to hood doctoral candidates. Hooding ceremonies will take place in the future when restrictions are lifted.

Those who plan to attend should stay informed about the California Department of Public Health’s most recent travel advisory.

For those who cannot join us in Los Angeles, all in-person activities will be broadcast online, live, and on-demand for future viewing. The university is building a new digital platform to host a memorable, feature-rich remote experience for all who participate. Every school will host a virtual celebration for its graduates on May 13.

Below please find additional information. If you have further questions, please contact us at acevents@usc.edu.

Information for in-Person Commencement Ceremonies at the Coliseum

What graduates are considered part of the Class of 2021?

Students who completed their requirements from Fall 2020 through Summer 2021

What will the in-person Commencement ceremonies at the Coliseum look like?

On May 14, the President and Provost will begin hosting commencement ceremonies to confer the degrees of our graduates at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Socially distanced ceremonies will take place at a limited capacity. The ceremonies will take place twice a day from May 14 through May 25 and graduates will attend based on their school’s designated date or dates. These dates will be assigned by the third week of April, once we receive RSVPs from all graduates. Students will receive an email from Marching Order with the RSVP link or may log into usc.marchingorder.com with their USC email address.

What will take place at the in-person Commencement ceremonies?

The in-person ceremony will be a combination of the traditional Main Ceremony and School Ceremony, following the California state guidelines.  The President and Provost will present and confer degrees at this ceremony. Remarks will be given by the keynote commencement speaker and the Valedictorian along with the Dean of your school. The Trojan Marching Band and a student from the Thornton School of Music will perform. Graduates will have the opportunity to process across the stage, hear their name announced, receive their diploma covers, and have photos taken, while projected on the screens at the stadium.

If my school’s ceremony date is not on May 14, will my graduation date change?

No, all 2021 graduates have a graduation date of May 14.

What date will my ceremony be held?

A series of ceremonies will take place twice a day from May 14 through May 25. Graduates will attend based on their school’s designated date or dates. These dates will be assigned by the third week of April, once we receive RSVPs from all graduates. Students will receive an email from Marching Order to log back into the reservation site to confirm their RSVP.

How do I sign up to attend the in-person Commencement ceremonies at the Coliseum?

Due to State regulations, all graduates must RSVP to attend. All students will receive an email with the RSVP link or may log into usc.marchingorder.com with their USC email address. If you are unable to login, please fill out this survey to be added to the reservation site.

What do I do if I did not get the Marching Order email?

If you did not receive an email from Marching Order, you must be added to the system before you can register. Please fill out this form. After filling out the form, we will process your information and within 3 to 5 days, you will be sent an email from Marching Order that provides a personalized link that cannot be shared.

What do I do if I lost my email from Marching Order? 

Please visit usc.marchingorder.com. Click on REGISTER under NEW USERS. There, you can enter your email address. A link to set your password will be sent to you via email. Please note: you must use your USC email address, or the record will not be found.

Will I be able to invite guests to attend?

Density restrictions require graduates to have no more than two guests. Friends and family at home can watch live on our virtual platform. 2021 Graduates must register guests through the Marching Order registration system.

How do I register my 2 guests?

You will receive an email inviting you back into Marching Order to register your two guests. Note, at this time, the state continues to require guests to be California residents, and they are not making exceptions for those who have been vaccinated. We will continue to urge state officials to allow out-of-state guests to attend commencement ceremonies. We will let you know immediately if these requirements change.

Do children count towards my two guests?

Children over 2 years old will require their own ticket and seat. Any child under 2 years old must be seated on the ticket holder’s lap during the event.

Will the ceremonies be broadcast for those unable to attend?

Yes, for those who cannot join us in Los Angeles, all in-person activities will be broadcast online, live, and on-demand for future viewing. The university is building a new digital platform to host a memorable, feature-rich remote experience for all who participate. Every school will host a virtual celebration for its graduates on May 13. The link will be available on the commencement website on May 13.

Do I need to attend the in-person Commencement ceremonies at the Coliseum to have my degree conferred?

No, graduates do not need to attend to have their degree conferred.

How do I get my diploma cover if I cannot attend in person?

Please fill out the diploma cover request form if you cannot attend the in-person ceremonies.

Will my name be called if I cannot attend in person?

No, if you are unable to attend, you will be part of the virtual procession hosted on demand on our new virtual platform.  We ask that you let us know via the Marching Order registration form. Graduates unable to attend will still be asked to upload a photo, which we will use to create the virtual processional for all those who cannot be with us in Los Angeles.

Will these in-person Commencement ceremonies replace the traditional commencement ceremonies previously held on USC’s campuses?

Yes, the in-person ceremonies, at which the university formally confers degrees upon all graduating students, will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Graduates will have the opportunity to process across the stage, hear their name announced, receive their diploma covers, and have photos taken, while projected on the screens at the stadium. Ceremonies will be broadcast online, live, and on demand for future viewing on our new virtual platform. The link will be available on the commencement website on May 13.

Will the class of 2020 ceremonies be combined with the class of 2021 ceremonies?

Yes.

In addition to the in-person Commencement ceremonies at the Coliseum, will there be other school-specific events?

Yes, each school will host a live virtual school celebration on Thursday, May 13 on our new virtual platform. The links will be available on the commencement website on May 13.

What are the live virtual school celebrations?

Virtual school celebrations are online programs that will be hosted individually by each school at USC. These celebrations will vary depending on the school, but may include messages from Deans, alumni, student speakers, as well as possible commencement speakers. Virtual school celebrations will give students from each school the opportunity to interact and celebrate directly with their cohorts.

When will my school’s live virtual celebration take place?

Live virtual school celebrations will take place on Thursday, May 13. More information will follow. Please check back later to learn what time your school will host its virtual celebration.

What will graduates and family members be able to experience on the virtual platform?

In addition to hosting the live broadcast of each in-person ceremony at the Coliseum, guests will be able to engage in a number of different experiences on our new virtual platform. These include viewing social media posts, taking photos in a virtual photo booth, submitting images to be included in a USC photo collage, downloading the virtual “grad kit,” and interacting with friends and family in the chat rooms. There will also be a custom-designed virtual commencement site for each school, on-demand programming of ceremonies, and video congratulatory messages from alumni, faculty, families, special guests, and some surprise celebrities.

How do I participate in social media and submit videos of congratulations?

When posting to your social media, please use the hashtags #USCGrad and #2021Trojan. These submissions will be used as part of the online celebration of the Class of 2021.

To submit videos of congratulations, please visit here.

Please note that video submissions and social media posts should not include any music to avoid copyright issues.

Will cultural celebrations be taking place this year?

Yes, cultural celebrations will take place on Thursday, May 13 on our new virtual platform. The link will be available on the commencement website on May 13.

Will Baccalaureate take place this year?

No. We look forward to continuing that tradition next year.

Will Doctoral Hooding’s take place this year at the Coliseum?

As a result of current safety guidelines regarding social distancing, the University will not be hosting doctoral hoodings at this time. Doctoral graduates are still welcome to attend the in-person commencement ceremonies.

Will my Doctoral Hooding be postponed to a future date?

Yes, doctoral graduates who wish to return in the future for their hooding can contact their school’s commencement coordinator to request being included in a future program when it is safe and social distancing is not required.

I am a graduate that resides out of state. Can I attend my in-person ceremony?

Out of state graduates are permitted to attend. All graduates must register via Marching Order by April 15 in order to attend. Note, at this time, the state continues to require guests to be California residents, and they are not making exceptions for those who have been vaccinated. Anyone planning to attend commencement should stay informed about, and comply with, all state and local travel advisories.

Regalia

Do I need to wear regalia for the in-person Commencement ceremonies?

Yes, regalia is available to rent or purchase through the USC Bookstore.

Who can I contact if I have questions regarding regalia?

Please send an email to: gradproducts@usc.edu.

Will regalia be shipped to my home, or can I pick up at the Coliseum?

You can order your regalia via the USC Bookstore website, and it will be shipped directly to your home. There is currently no option to pick up regalia on-site the day of your ceremony.

Can I rent regalia the day of my Commencement ceremony?

A limited amount of regalia will be available to rent outside of the Coliseum on the day of your ceremony; however to avoid waiting in possible long lines, we recommend ordering in advance via the USC Bookstore.

Do I need to re-rerent my doctoral regalia for the rescheduled hooding if I am renting it for the May 2021 ceremonies at the Coliseum?

No. If you have rented or are renting regalia for the May ceremonies at the Coliseum, please hold on to your regalia until the rescheduled hooding event to avoid having to pay again. After the rescheduled event, please return the rented regalia onsite, or you can return the regalia to Herff Jones with the original return label provided in your delivery.

How do I return my regalia after the in-person Commencement ceremony?

All rented regalia should be dropped off in the return bins located around the Coliseum following your ceremony.

Can I keep my cap and tassel that came with my rented regalia?

Yes, the cap and tassel are yours to keep.

Am I allowed to come to campus and take pictures in my regalia?

We are currently working with the State and County to provide an opportunity for graduates to take pictures on campus safely prior to the May 14 start of the ceremonies at the Coliseum. Due to State regulations, the campus will be closed to visitors while the ceremonies take place at the Coliseum.

Honor Cords

How do graduates get honor cords?

Honor cords are only given to undergraduate students who have a minimum 3.5 GPA. You will be contacted by your school’s commencement coordinator or academic advisor during the spring semester if you are eligible to receive one. They are free of charge.

Where do I pick up my honor cord?

Honor cords are provided by your individual school and will be mailed to your permanent address prior to commencement.

Diplomas & Program

If I am a May 2021 graduate, when will I get my diploma?

Diplomas will be mailed to your permanent address approximately six weeks after degrees are conferred on May 14.

Will my name be in the 2021 commencement printed program?

If you have worked with Degree Progress to confirm that your requirements are complete, you will be listed in the program.

How do I get a copy of the 2021 commencement printed program?

The commencement printed program will be handed out at the in-person ceremonies at the Coliseum. You will also be able to download a copy of the program from the commencement website and virtual platform.

If I cannot attend in person, how can I get a copy of the printed program?

Please fill out this form to request a copy of the printed program. You will also be able to download a copy of the program from the commencement website and virtual platform.

How can I purchase a yearbook?

Graduates may purchase their yearbook online and choose to have their yearbook sent directly to them when ordering at uscelrodeo.com.  For questions and details, please see the El Rodeo website or contact Student Publications at elrodeo@usc.edu.

How can I have my picture included in the yearbook?

Please visit uscelrodeo.com/photos/graduates for information on participating in the yearbook portraits section at no cost.

International Students

Can international students attend the in-person Commencement ceremonies?

International students currently located abroad should work with the Office of International Services to review potential visa and US entry challenges involved with such travel. All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States. Please check back often for updates.

Other Questions

What if Los Angeles County moves back into the Purple tier?

The situation with the pandemic is very fluid. If Los Angeles County moves back into the Purple tier (the most restrictive tier), the State and County guidelines prohibit gatherings of any size. If the county regresses to the Purple tier, the in-person ceremonies will be postponed to a future date when it is safe for everyone to gather. In their place, the University will host a virtual conferring of degrees ceremony, along with all of the virtual school celebrations.

I am a dual major from two different schools – can I attend both ceremonies?

Due to State and County Regulations, there are limited capacities permitted at each ceremony at the Coliseum.  Note that these restrictions are not just for USC but for all Universities in California. Due to this regulation, all students are allowed to attend one ceremony at the coliseum. You can select your assigned ceremony by choosing from the drop-down menu on Marching Order. Ceremony Selections must be made by April 15. Any requests to change after that date may not be able to be accommodated.

I earned a progressive degree from two different schools – can I attend both ceremonies?

Due to State and County Regulations, there are limited capacities permitted at each ceremony at the Coliseum.  Note that these restrictions are not just for USC but for all Universities in California. Due to this regulation, all students are allowed to attend one ceremony at the coliseum. You can select your assigned ceremony by choosing from the drop-down menu on Marching Order. Ceremony Selections must be made by April 15. Any requests to change after that date may not be able to be accommodated.

I earned two degrees from the same school, can I go to both ceremonies?

All levels of degrees from your school will be combined into one ceremony. You will attend only one ceremony.

When is the deadline to upload a photo to Marching Order?

You can upload a photo of your choice to be included in the virtual processional on the commencement website. It must be uploaded by April 25th.

What is the deadline to make any changes to my Marching Order account?

April 25th