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Frequently Asked Questions

When will I receive information about my student's graduation?

Commencement information will be distributed to BS candidates at Grad Fair and mailed to their parents at the end of April. This will include reservation instructions for the President's Garden reception, Senior Banquet and post-Commencement Luncheon. As with seating at the ceremony, there are no restrictions on the number of guests a student may bring.

Please contact the Commencement Office at 626-395-6314 or with questions.

Students receiving their Engineering, MS and PhD degrees can pick up commencement information either at the Grad Fair or from the Graduate Office. Contact Natalie Gilmore, Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies, at 626-395-3812 or The Graduate Studies office with questions. 

This will include reservation instructions for the Graduate Studies luncheon, President's Garden reception and post-Commencement Luncheon.

How do I receive portraits taken of my graduate and/or family?

GradImages is available to take graduate and family photos in April at the annual Grad Fair, and on campus, both in the assembly area and at the President's Reception, the day before the ceremony. To view the proofs of these images and order proofs, go to and enter the graduate's last name, "California Institute of Technology," and the graduation year in the search fields.

How do I receive photos taken of my graduate during the ceremony?

GradImages takes photos of each graduate receiving his or her degree during the ceremony. To view the proofs of these images and order proofs, go to and enter the graduate's last name, "California Institute of Technology," and the graduation year in the search fields.

Will the graduation ceremony be live-streamed or posted online as videos afterward?

The ceremony will be live-streamed at beginning shortly before 10:00 a.m. PST on Commencement day. Alternately, the livestream will also be available to view on Caltech’s Facebook page, as well as on Caltech’s YouTube channel.

The livestream will be immediately archived and available to view on both Facebook and YouTube. For those wanting to see a video featuring the Commencement keynote address, that shorter video will be available on YouTube typically by the next business day.

What should I wear to events?

We often receive calls about what type of clothing to wear for each event or how to dress for the weather. The important thing is that you feel comfortable. Below is suggested attire.

Thursday: Graduate Studies Luncheon, President's Reception, Senior Banquet and Student Concert

Cocktail attire is appropriate for women. A nice pant suit, cocktail dress or skirt.  For the gentlemen, a suit and tie is not required, but a sport coat and nice slacks is appropriate.  The reception is held on a lawn, so you may want to wear comfortable shoes.  You may wish to bring a sweater or jacket, as some of the banquet seating is outdoors and evening temperatures may drop.

Friday: Commencement Exercises and Luncheon

Graduating Students
Wear your cap and gown to the ceremony as well as any cords or hoods you have received. It is a good idea to iron the gown beforehand; wear the tassel on the left. You may want to bring bobby pins to secure your cap.

Underneath the gown, we recommend that men wear a shirt and dark slacks, dark socks, and dark shoes. Women may wear a blouse and skirt or slacks or a dress and dark shoes. The collar of a white shirt or blouse nicely complements the academic robe.

Note: Purses, flowers, water bottles, laptops, backpacks or other large items may not be carried by graduates during commencement. Please make arrangements for someone to hold these items for you or leave them at the Information Booth which will be located at the south end of the Beckman mall.  A water bottle and program will be under your seat.

Parents and Guests
As these events are held outdoors on the lawn, keep in mind both the sun and the changing temperature when selecting your attire. You may also want to wear shoes appropriate for walking on grass. It may be chilly in the morning and then very warm in the direct sunlight toward the afternoon. Layering, sun block, and hats are all good choices.

What will the weather be like?

The weather is almost always sunny and warm to very warm for Commencement with the exception of the early morning and evening hours, which can be chilly. To check the forecast in advance, visit and use the campus zip code 91125.

Do I need tickets for the ceremony and how many may I have?

You do not need tickets to attend the Commencement convocation. Caltech is pleased to accommodate all parents and guests of graduates for the ceremony. Seating in chairs on the lawn is provided on a first come, first served basis (there is no reserved guest seating). Any number of guests can also be accommodated at the various commencement celebrations, reservations are required.

How will you accommodate guests with accessibility needs?

Specific information for guests with accessibility needs can be found at the Accessible Services page on this site. For all the events listed, arrangements for persons using wheelchairs, for those who are hearing-or sight-impaired, or for those who have other accessibility needs may be made by contacting the Office of the President at 626-395-6314 or

Special services—such as large-type programs, American Sign Language interpreters, and assistive listening devices—will be available. The large-type programs can be found at the Information Booth on the south side of Beckman Mall.

Please note that only one person may accompany the guest requiring accessible seating.

Are there vegetarian, vegan or other menu options for the Graduate Studies Lunch, Senior Banquet and the Commencement Luncheon?

Yes, if reserved in advance, Caltech is happy to offer a vegetarian option for these events. Simply indicate your dietary requirements or restrictions when making reservations.

Where may I park?

Parking is available in lots and structures throughout the campus. As a courtesy, the Caltech Parking Office will not be charging for guest parking on Commencement day. The two-hour parking limit on surface streets surrounding campus will also be lifted that day. More detailed information, including a parking map, is available on the Visitors page.

What restaurants are there in Pasadena?

There are many fine restaurants for lunch and dinner within walking distance of campus along the South Lake Avenue shopping district or near Old Town Pasadena.

What hotels are nearby?

Hotels with discounted Caltech Commencement rates can be found on our Hotels page. You must ask for the Caltech Commencement rate when you book your stay at one of these hotels. Several of these hotels offer shuttle service around the Pasadena area. Inquire about shuttle availability when checking in to the hotel.

How can I find out more about planning a visit to Pasadena?

The city of Pasadena is a beautiful destination, and there are several on-line sites that provide information on transportation, accommodations, attractions, weather, and more.

Planning a Visit to Pasadena

City of Pasadena on the web

Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau

How do I join the Caltech Alumni Association or the Athenaeum?

Caltech Alumni Association membership includes benefits such as e-mail and career services, an alumni network of nearly 9,000 members, a 15 percent discount on many items at the Caltech Store, and invitations to special events. Keep your forwarding information current to receive the membership packet via mail in the fall. Contact the Caltech Alumni Association office for more information.

As a graduate, you are also eligible to apply for membership to Caltech's Faculty Club, the Athenaeum. Visit their website for an application form and more information.

How do I order graduation announcements, flowers and other graduation items?

The Caltech Store is the source. You may order graduation announcements, class rings, diploma frames, online beginning in April.  Regalia may be purchased through the Caltech Store. All graduating students are encouraged to attend the Grad Fair in front of the Caltech Store where diploma frames, Caltech rings and regalia will be available for purchase or order.

Flowers have been available for purchase from The Commencement Group.  You can pre-order and pick up your bouquet on site at the Information tent before the ceremony begins.  As a reminder, students cannot process with a bouquet, but you will have the opportunity to present the gift following the ceremony.

Flowers will also be available for sale at the ceremony at the same prices, but the availability of colors and size of bouquets cannot be guaranteed.

Is there a limit to the number of guests a student may invite to the meals and concert?

No, there are no limits. Caltech is pleased to provide ample space for you to celebrate your graduation with your friends and family. Any number of guests can be accommodated for the Graduate Studies Luncheon, President's Reception, Senior Banquet, Student Concert, and post-Commencement Luncheon. Please observe the deadline for reservations.