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, degrees are conferred to more than 300 USU  students. This convocation marks the culmination of years of education, training, leadership and research for military and civilian members of the  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 dresses the edge of the hood and varies 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. 

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


On the cap or tam hang tassels. The color of these threads coordinate with the velvet trim of the hood and the paneling and crossbar of the  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) 295-9805

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




USU Commencement is always held on the third Saturday in May -- Armed Forces Day.  The next Commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 17, 2025.  Rehearsal will take place on Friday, May 16, 2025. 

Upcoming dates:

Saturday, May 16, 2026 (Rehearsal is Friday, May 15, 2026)
Saturday, May 15, 2027 (Rehearsal is Friday, May 14, 2027)


The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall, 18th and D Streets, N.W., Washington, DC, has been reserved for the 2025 ceremony; however, an official contract must be let before it can be confirmed. 

Schedule of Events

9:00 a.m. - Outer doors open for families and guests
9:30 a.m. - Inner hall doors open for families and guests
10:30 a.m. - Ceremony begins (Please note that any guests who are outside the venue, or outside of the inner hall when the procession begins will not be allowed back into the venue or inner hall until the full procession has ended).  
12:30 p.m. - Ceremony concludes

Livestream Link

The 2024 ceremony will be livestreamed via the University's YouTube channel  at:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X52SzDMlVio.  Please offer your congratulatory comments and well wishes in the comments section as it goes!  

Campus Access

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


USU faculty and staff supporting or participating in the ceremony may park at the Department of Interior garage directly across from Constitution Hall.  A parking pass is required and may be obtained from External Affairs once they are available for distribution.  

The following parking garages will be open for Commencement families and guests at a flat rate of $20.50 (2024 rate) per vehicle. Guests must present the USU parking pass to receive this discounted rate.  These passes will be distributed to the graduating students in advance of the ceremony to distribute to their guests. 

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

DAR Constitution Hall is also Metro accessible.  It is an 11-minute walk from the Farragut West station. 


Student Regalia - The University rents regalia, which is provided to each student participating in the Commencement ceremony.  Regalia must be returned to MDL staff immediately upon the conclusion of the ceremony.  

Faculty Regalia - Faculty participating in commencement are responsible for providing their own regalia. The following are several vendors that will rent academic regalia. If you have any questions regarding your rental order with any of these vendors, please contact them directly using the contact information provided on their websites. The deadline to place orders is April 2 to ensure that regalia is received in time for Commencement.

Balfour - https://www.buildagrad.com/uniformedservices
Jostens - https://www.jostens.com/apps/store/productBrowse/1067039/Uniformed-Services-University/Graduation-Caps-and-Gowns/col_greg_1067039/CATALOG_COLLEGE?subCatalog=true 
(Please be advised that this does not imply endorsement of these vendors by the University.) 


Do I need a ticket?
Yes, tickets are required for entry to the Commencement ceremony.  Tickets for students and their guests will be distributed in mid- to late April.  Tickets for USU personnel participating in the procession and support staff will be distributed by External Affairs personnel in late April.  Tickets for VIP guests and USU and other personnel not participating in the procession will also be distributed in late April. 

What time should I arrive on Commencement day?
Students should arrive between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m.   
Outer doors open to guests at 9:00 a.m.  Inner doors to the hall open at 9:30 a.m.  

Which entrance should I use?
Guests of graduating students, USU personnel not supporting or participating in the ceremony, and other guests must enter through the 18th Street entrance.  
USU personnel supporting the ceremony should use the D Street entrance.
Graduates and faculty participating in the ceremony should use the D Street entrance.
Wheelchair guests, or those who are unable to use stairs, should use the D Street entrance.  They may be accompanied by one other guest.  The rest of the party should use the 18th Street entrance. 
VIP guests bearing maroon tickets should use the D Street entrance. 

Who is the keynote speaker?
The 2024 Commencement speaker will be ABC News Correspondent Mr. Bob Woodruff

Bob Woodruff
(Credit: ABC News)






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?
Yes, but not in the aisles or in front of the stage during the ceremony. 

Will there be a professional photographer?
Yes.  USU photographers will be there to take photos throughout the ceremony.  A number of these photos will be shared on social media after the ceremony.  USU will provide each graduating student with a photo file of them receiving their diploma and one as they leave the stage.  


Commencement Program

2024 Commencement Program