Commencement Week 2024 Know Before You Go

From tips on where to eat to transportation recommendations to security guidance, find out details of GW’s signature event celebrating its graduating students.

May 13, 2024

Commencement 2024 preview

Graduates from the GW Class of 2023 celebrate Commencement on the National Mall on May 21, 2023. (Photo by Joy Asico/For GW Today)

The George Washington University is set to celebrate the achievements of its 2024 graduating class on Sunday at Commencement at the National Mall. Graduates and their guests will be recognized throughout the week at individual school celebrations before being honored at the base of the Washington Monument on Sunday.

GW Today has compiled a guide to make the visit to D.C. easier for friends and family coming to celebrate. Please note security details and free speech guidelines for this year’s celebration.

Planning your visit

GW is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., and within walking distance to some of the nation’s most iconic sights—including the White House and Lincoln Memorial. The university is close to three major airports, including Ronald Reagan Washington National, Dulles International and Baltimore Washington International, as well as Union Station.

Metro, taxi, rideshare and Capital Bikeshare are available to help you navigate Foggy Bottom and the National Mall.

For those who have not yet booked, there are many options for lodging across the D.C. area, including some options that are close to Foggy Bottom and the National Mall. Be sure to ask any hotel if they offer a discount for the weekend of GW’s Commencement.

Check out GW Today’s Foggy Bottom guide for the best places to eat, relax or explore.

Individual school celebrations

All schools and colleges will host a celebratory experience for their graduating students. Graduating students will receive individual recognition, including having their names announced, walking across the stage and having an individual photo taken. During these celebrations, they will hear from school leaders and other prestigious speakers.

These ceremonies run from Thursday, May 16, through Monday, May 20. Please visit the Commencement Week schedule for dates, times and locations of school and college celebrations.

Senior Week

Class Years Program and the Division for Student Affairs introduces the first-ever Senior Week. Get ready for a week packed with activities such as Senior Laser Tag, Last Night carnival and an exclusive Class of 2024 Cruise with Whitlow’s on Water.

Senior Week began Friday and runs through Thursday, May 16, with each day offering students a variety of activities to choose from. Spots for certain events will be limited, so graduating seniors should check the schedule and RSVP to make the most of their final week on campus. 

All Class of 2024 undergraduate seniors are invited to the GW Senior Class Toast, an annual reception welcoming them into the GW Alumni Association. The event, running from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the University Student Center, includes light refreshments, a champagne toast and brief remarks from GW alumni and student leaders. 



The Commencement on the National Mall ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. Graduates and guests must be seated by 10:15 a.m.

Staging area

Commencement site map 2024

The staging area will be at the base of the Washington Monument, located at 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. (for guests that do not need access to the ADA drop-off area); ADA seating guests should use 1600 Constitution Avenue, NW. The Commencement site will be secured by fencing with entrance gates as indicated on the site map. The U.S. Park Police and other security personnel will be on site.

Graduate seating opens at 8 a.m. Graduates must be seated by 10:15 a.m. Graduates may use any entrance, but it is recommended to use Gate 3 for the most direct access to the graduate seating area.


Graduates must be prepared to show the QR code from their GradPass, either on a mobile device or a printout. To access GradPass, either:

  • Log into the registration system and click on “Print Your GradPass.” Screenshots are acceptable.
  • Click on the link on the email titled “Your GradPass for [EVENT NAME]* is Here”

*Each event has a unique GradPass that may only be used at the event listed above the QR code.

Guest seating

Guest seating opens at 8 a.m. Electronic tickets with QR codes—either on a mobile device or printed out—are required for all guests 2 years of age or older. All guests must have a ticket for admission. Please expect longer-than-anticipated lines at entrance gates.

Guest seating is available on a general admission basis. Please note the location of guest entrances on the map provided. ADA seating is available at 1600 Constitution Ave. NW. The ADA seating area is reversed for guests who have limited mobility, and they may be accompanied by one guest.

There is no shade available in any guest seating area, including no shade in the ADA seating section.  Guests may not use umbrellas as they block the view of other guests; umbrellas are allowed in the overflow viewing area.  

Please note the plastic flooring used in all guest seating areas, which is required by the National Park Service, has a reflective surface that makes the seating area very bright and can increase the air temperature by 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The same flooring can become slippery to walk on if there is rain or condensation remaining from the morning dew.  Use caution when walking on the flooring as it may be uneven in areas.

Water stations

Graduates and guests should bring a reusable water bottle to the ceremony. There are several water stations available at the National Mall Commencement site.


Jen Psaki, who served in two White House administrations including as White House Press Secretary for President Joe Biden and now hosts her own show on MSNBC, will give the 2024 Commencement address. She will also receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service.

Psaki, the host of MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki,” served as the nation’s 34th press secretary from Jan. 20, 2021, to May 13, 2022.

The student speaker is GW engineering master's candidate Yahya Aliyu.

Getting there

  • Metro
    • Those taking the orange, blue or silver line from Foggy Bottom to Commencement on the National Mall should exit at the Smithsonian station. Riders taking the red line can transfer to the orange, silver or blue line at Metro Center to the Smithsonian stop, while those taking the green or yellow line can do so at the L’Enfant Plaza station.
  • Alternative transportation
    • There are also various Capital Bikeshare stations around the city, including near our campus and the mall.
  • Parking
    • Guests are urged to take the Metro, walk or take taxis during Commencement Week. Note that parking is not guaranteed for those who do drive. For school celebrations or other events on campus, GW parking garages are available.  All GW parking garages are wheelchair accessible
    • There is no reservable, dedicated ADA parking on the National Mall. Limited publicly accessible parking spaces are available. Privately-owned parking garages are located within about half a mile of the Commencement site. Parking fees vary by location.
    • There will be an ADA drop-area. To gain access to the drop-off area, students and guests may pick up a placard for their vehicle from the Welcome Center help desk located in the University Student Center, which opens noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 15; 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16; 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19.

Celebrating online

Commencement on the National Mall will be live streamed on the web and social media on the day of the event. Viewing options will be posted on the Commencement homepage on the day of the event.

School and college celebrations will be live streamed on the web and available on their Commencement pages on the day of the event.

In case of emergency

University Commencement is held rain or shine on the National Mall, unless we are directed to move by the National Park Service or if conditions do not allow us to safely conduct the ceremony as planned. If an emergency should develop during the ceremony, the U.S. Park Police will declare an emergency. Follow the directions of U.S. Park Police and site staff and proceed to the nearest public building. If you need assistance, site staff will help you.

If the ceremony moves to an alternate site, all graduates and members of the platform party should report to the Charles E. Smith Center. For alternate site plan information, please visit

Families and guests would watch the full ceremony online at

In the event of a change to Commencement on the National Mall, information will be posted to Updates and changes will also be communicated via GW Alert (text and email), the GW homepage, GW Information Line at 202-994-5050, and on social media (Twitter and Facebook).

Free expression and reasonable limitations

Colleges and universities are laboratories for social and intellectual growth; activism, engagement, and freedom of expression are essential for these things. This freedom extends to students and faculty and encompasses diverse viewpoints, including those that are objectionable or offensive to some.

Free expression, however, is not unlimited. Speech may be regulated when it is obscene, involves true threats (serious or intentional threats of violence directed at specific individuals), incites violence, or involves illegal conduct. In addition, speech is not protected when it rises to the level of prohibited harassment based on a person’s protected characteristic (examples include age, disability, ethnicity/national origin, gender, race, religion/faith tradition, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, and many others) as defined by state, local, and federal anti-discrimination laws and university policies.

Finally, speech may be regulated in a way that focuses on reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions that are not based on the content of the speech. One example of such time, place, and manner restrictions is that the university prohibits speech that disrupts university activities or operations or threatens, endangers, or harasses others.

At individual school ceremonies: If an individual or group attempts to disrupt a ceremony and/or use any of the prohibited items, an event representative will issue a warning and ask the individual(s) to discontinue the disruptive behavior or leave. If the disruption continues, they will be told to leave immediately or they will be removed by law enforcement.

At the National Mall: The location for University Commencement on the National Mall has been reserved by the university through an agreement with the National Park Service. Those who wish to express their First Amendment rights will be directed by the United States Park Police to a separate First Amendment Zone at a nearby location on the National Mall. This follows National Park Service protocols that keep ceremonial events scheduled as planned while allowing individuals to express their opinions.

Inside the perimeter of the University Commencement ceremony, if an individual or group attempts to disrupt the ceremony and/or uses any of the prohibited items, an event representative will issue a warning and ask the individual(s) to discontinue the disruptive behavior. If the disruption continues, the individual(s) will be asked for their identification and to leave. If the individual(s) refuse to leave, they will be removed by law enforcement.