Commencement Ceremony

*Financially supported by Student Activity Fees

Commencement is a celebration honoring your achievement of completing the program requirements to earn a degree or certificate. 

**A decision will be made by March 1, 2021 regarding the format of the spring 2021 commencement ceremony**


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The spring commencement program will be available in digital PDF form prior to the ceremony. Hard copies will be available on the night of the ceremony.


The spring commencement ceremony can be viewed here once streaming begins. 

Please be advised that beach balls, balloons, silly string, signs and confetti are not permitted on the Mini-Dome floor.

All graduates are expected to dress professionally and comfortably. Gentlemen wear dark dress pants and dress shirts. Ladies wear dresses or blouses with skirts or dark dress pants. Wear comfortable but nice shoes (no flip flops or tennis shoes). High heels and wedges are discouraged due to the artificial turf flooring of the ETSU mini-dome. We highly recommend that all students wear flat shoes. Participating students must wear regalia. It is best to take your gown out of the plastic bag and hang it up before wearing. No one other than the degree candidates will be allowed on the floor during the ceremony. Participating students are not permitted to leave during the ceremony so please be aware of this time commitment if you are planning celebration activities afterward. Please leave personal belongings with family or friends. Distracting items such as balloons, silly string, confetti, and signs are not permitted on the Mini-Dome floor.

A photographer will be present from 4:00-6:00pm for students wishing to have individual cap and gown portraits. Please arrive no later than 4:45pm to ensure adequate time for your portrait to be made. Students who do not wish to have individual cap and gown portraits made should arrive no later than 5:45pm to check in and begin lining up for the processional. The commencement ceremony begins at 7:00pm. The length of the ceremony will be approximately 2 hours, but this will depend on the number of graduates participating.

Please be advised that there are new security measures upon entrance to the ETSU Mini-Dome. Therefore, graduates and guests will need to arrive early to accommodate the additional security measures, which include metal detectors and bag searches. Any unsearchable bag, container or package will not be allowed into the facility. Graduates and guests are encouraged to only bring essential items to the ceremony in order to expedite the security process. 

Graduates will be allowed to carry personal items such as cell phone, car keys and wallets on the floor level of the ETSU Mini-Dome as long as they are secured under regalia. Students are encouraged to leave personal items in their vehicles.  

  1. Entrance: Jack Vest Drive on State of Franklin. Alternate entrance to parking garage will be closed
  2. Parking Garage: Parking is available in parking garage. Disabled parking is available on the 2nd floor.
  3. Parking Lots: Additional parking is available in these lots.
  4. Disability Drop-Off: This location is reserved for dropping off friends, family, and graduates with disabilities. Area is blocked off to general traffic.

Note: Please enter using the Jack Vest Drive entrance located on W. State of Franklin Road. It is letter A in the map pictured.

Map of Parking and Seating

Accessible Seating

  • Due to the limited number of accessible seats available at the ETSU Mini-Dome, individuals are encouraged to use general seating; if possible. General seating is accessible to guests with disabilities by the ramps on the west side of the Mini-Dome. General seating offers an unobstructed view of the stage and allows all members of a party to be seated together.
  • Accessible seating is available at the floor for individuals. Due to the limited number of seats in this area, entire families cannot sit in this location. Each individual may have up to TWO family members join in this location.
  • Seating will not be reserved. Please arrive early to ensure open seating. 
  • Guests can drop off those in need, on the west side of the Mini-Dome. Police/Security officers will be there to assist you.
  • Once inside the Mini-Dome, there will be signs providing direction to the Accessible seating area.
  • Ushers will be available to seat you.

NOTE: Due to the accessible seating area located below stage level, visibility is somewhat limited.

Accessible Parking

  • Accessible parking is available on the west side of the Mini-Dome. If you have a Placard for parking, you may park in any accessible location or general parking area. The parking garage is also available for parking.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation! Our goal is for everyone to enjoy this special evening.

The processional and recessional of students and faculty dressed in academic regalia is a traditional part of these commencement exercises. This history of academic dress goes back to the medieval universities. In the 12th and 13th centuries, when universities were taking form, they were under the jurisdiction of the church. Those studying wore a habit or a cloak to which was attached a cowl or hood. This could be pulled up over the head or thrown back, according to weather conditions. Later, the gown served the dual purpose of providing warmth in the unheated halls as well as uniformity of dress.

Please Note: Students are required to wear their graduation cap, gown, and other graduation regalia. Students may pick up their cap and gown at Grad Kickoff or in the Office of Admissions and Records beginning in late March. Students will receive an email notification with the date regalia will be available for pick up.

PhotoGenius will be providing individual cap and gown portraits for any graduate prior to the graduating ceremony. These will be taken from 4:00 - 6:00 before graduation on a background with studio lighting to provide a professional quality portrait. Please arrive no later than 4:45 p.m. to ensure adequate time for your portrait to be made. Graduates will be able to view portraits at time of sitting and also at after graduation. You may purchase your individual cap and gown portraits at this time or online. If you would like a proof to be mailed to your home address, there will be a $5.00 sitting fee. Proofs and order forms will be mailed to each graduate's home address. If you have any questions, please call: 1.276.386.2547 or email Each individual graduate will be photographed while walking across the stage during the ceremony. Your online code will be sent to you via email 48 hours after the ceremony. If you do not receive your code, please contact photogenius at 1.276.386.2547 or email

PhotoGenius 2020 Order Form

Do I have to attend the commencement ceremony?

While participation is not mandatory, we encourage all graduating students to attend. This is a time for you, along with your family and friends, to celebrate your accomplishment. 

How many guests can attend?

There is no limit on guests and admission is free to the public.

Can I order invitations for the ceremony?
You can order invitations and class rings from Jostens. A Jostens representative will be on campus for our Grad Kickoff event in late March. Orders can be placed at that time or you can order online. 

Is there a rehearsal prior to the commencement ceremony?
No. Northeast State does not have a rehearsal. Please arrive early and you will receive instructions from staff when you check in. 

How long will the commencement ceremony last?
The length of the ceremony is approximately 2 hours, but this will depend on the number of graduates participating.   

Will I receive my diploma at the commencement ceremony?
Diplomas are not distributed at the commencement ceremony. Diplomas for fall, spring, and summer will be available for pick up in the Office of Admissions and Records approximately 4-6 weeks following each graduation semester. Email notifications will be sent to students with the date diplomas will be available. 

Does my participation in the ceremony mean that I have been awarded a degree or certificate?
Attending the commencement ceremony in no way confirms official graduation. All program requirements must be completed before the credential can be placed on your transcript or diploma.