Held annually on Armed Forces Day at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., Commencement incorporates the traditions and pomp and circumstance of both military service and academia. During the ceremony, deans from each of our schools confer degrees to more than 300 students. This convocation marks the culmination of years of study and preparation for military and civilian members of each graduating class.

Like most universities, we borrow academic regalia traditions from the earliest students at the oldest schools. Reaching back to the 12th century, medieval scholars wore cloaks with hoods. This was the simplest and most effective way to stay warm in the unheated stone buildings that functioned as the first scholarly venues.

Moving into the 14th century, modest virtue forbade "excess in apparel" and universities like Oxford and Cambridge prescribed the wearing of long gowns as part of ordinary academic life. Though European universities wielded much control, even to the extent of minor details, there was great diversity among learning academies. In fact, American universities were the first to implement finite systems regulating cut, style, material and color assignment for academic regalia.


21st century regalia have transcended their austere roots. The hood, in particular, is quite spectacular. At USU, the hood beautifully apposes school colors — purple and gold — lending color and vibrancy to the Commencement ceremonies. Velvet trim — green, blue, apricot and salmon pink — dress the edge of the hood and vary according to individual fields of learning.


The USU master's gown is black and untrimmed with long, oblong sleeves open at the wrist. The doctor's gown, black like the master's, has wide, bell-shaped sleeves and the front is faced with panels of velvet with three bars across each sleeve. The color of the panels and crossbars correspond with the binding or edging of the hood. Green is for medicine, apricot for nursing, blue for doctorates of philosophy and salmon pink for graduates of public health.

Faculty members participating in Commencement wear the university robe or the clothing of their alma mater. The USU president, Dr. Richard Thomas, wears the university gown.


On the cap, in the shape of a square mortarboard, hang tassels. The color of these threads coordinate with the velvet trim of the hood and the paneling and crossbar of the doctor's gown. As degrees are conferred, students often move their tassels from the right to the left side. This symbolizes the accomplishment of one of life's great milestones.




(301) 295-2114

Uniformed Services University Commencement Office
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814




USU Commencement is always held on the third Saturday in May -- Armed Forces Day.  Upcoming dates:

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Saturday, May 20, 2023


The ceremony has been traditionally held at the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall, 18th and D Streets, N.W., Washington, DC.

Schedule of Events

9:30 a.m. Doors open for families and guests

10:30 a.m. Ceremony begins

12:30 p.m. Ceremony finishes

Campus Access

Guests wishing to visit Uniformed Services University must follow base access guidelines. Review the guidelines by visiting USU Security.


The following parking garages are typically open for Commencement and charge a flat rate of $20.00 per vehicle:

  • 1717 Pennsylvania Ave NW
  • 1747 Pennsylvania Ave NW
  • 1730 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Reserve a parking space in one of these garages

DAR Constitution Hall is also metro accessible.


What time should I arrive on Commencement day?
Students should arrive between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m.

Who is the keynote speaker?
The keynote speaker is typically announced by the USU President several months prior to Commencement.

Is transportation provided to the Commencement site?
Bus transportation is provided for graduates, faculty, and University support personnel only.

Are guests allowed to take pictures?

Will there be a professional photographer?