Guest Instructions

The information below outlines everything guests need to know to see their graduate in the 2020 commencement ceremony. See Graduate Instructions for information about where graduates need to be on commencement day, when and how they can get there.

Commencement Day Protocols


All guests over two years of age must be registered by their graduate for entry. Each graduate may register a maximum of 4 guests.  Additional guests will not be admitted on Commencement Day. The Commencement ceremony is at capacity, so there are no extra tickets available. Guests are encouraged to watch the livestream of the ceremony available on the Duke Commencement website.

Guest Seating

Guest seating is on a first come, first serve basis.  We ask that guests be seated no later than 8:30AM.  If guests arrive after the procession has begun, they may be held back until the students and faculty are seated.   Please allow plenty of time for travel and parking.  Please see the Parking & Transportation and Abele Quad venue maps for additional details.

Mask Requirements

Please note: all attendees at the commencement weekend are expected to be vaccinated. Masks will be required at the football game and the commencement ceremony but are not required in other outdoor settings (walking on campus, exercising, etc.).  Masks are required inside all Duke buildings and on campus buses and shuttles.

Bag Policy

  • Bags and items larger than 12” x 12” x 6” (including backpacks, duffel bags, large purses, suitcases, wrapped gifts, etc.) are prohibited from entering the venue. Please leave such items in personal vehicles or hotel rooms.
  • If bags are required for medical or childcare reasons, clear bags (12” x 12” x 6” or smaller) are highly recommended to expedite entry and minimize touch points.
  • If larger items are required for a medical or accessibility need, please contact Duke Disability Management for additional information and accommodations.

Staying Cool in the Heat

We encourage guests to hydrate before and during the ceremony.  Water bottles will be located at multiple stations throughout the venue.  Sunscreen is encouraged.

Tobacco-Free Campus

Duke University is a Tobacco-Free Campus. The use of any tobacco-based product is prohibited, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco, snuff, and electronic smoking devices (including e-cigarettes, vaping products, and IQOS). For more information on Duke University’s Tobacco-Free Campus policy, visit

Commencement Day Parking


Parking information is available, including maps, routes and parking lots reserved for graduates and their guests.


The Allen Parking Lot, accessible from Flowers Drive, will be reserved for guests requiring accessible parking accommodations. Guests with mobility restrictions may be dropped off at the West campus bus stop via Chapel drive until 8:30 a.m. After 8:30 a.m., accessible guests may be dropped off in the Allen Parking Lot.

Hired Car Services

Many campus roads are private, so taxis are not readily available. If you plan to use a taxi or other hired car service, please schedule in advance. Taxi companies and ride-sharing services often increase their standard rates throughout commencement weekend due to the high demand.

The following locations will have designated areas held for hired car services drop-off and pick up:

  • Wannamaker Road, via the Chapel Drive traffic circle (~ 6 min walk to the ceremony)
  • Wannamaker Road, via / Towerview Rd Traffic Circle, across from Blue Zone Lots entry