Search Search

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Commencement information will be distributed to BS candidates at Grad Fair (April 19) 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 626/395-2352 or email with questions.

Students receiving their Engineering, M.S. 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.

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 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, 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 www.weather.com 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. 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 special needs?

Specific information for guests with accessibility needs can be found at the Visitor Information 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 special needs may be made by contacting the Commencement Office at 626/395-2352 or commencement@caltech.edu.

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 handicapped seating.

Are there kosher or vegetarian 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 on the reservation form.

Where may I park?

Parking is available in lots and structures throughout the campus. Please see the map for the locations. 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.

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.

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 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.

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.