Commencement recognizes your hard work and dedication, and it signals the beginning of your life as a Hope College alumnus.

Commencement participants and their two guests are requested to arrive no earlier than 30 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. There will be two entrances available on the west side of the stadium. Guests will check in with gate attendants before being admitted to the stadium. Socially-distanced seating for guests will be marked in the bleachers. It is important to provide Hope College employees plenty of time to clean all seats, so arriving significantly early and staying after the ceremony is discouraged this year.

All Commencement participants and guests will be required to wear a facial covering throughout the Commencement ceremony. We encourage all members of the Hope community to practice CDC recommendations for social distancing, hand washing and other steps to protect yourself and others.

As Commencement weekend draws closer, we will be finalizing the finer details of the day and making adjustments as necessary to comply with local and state guidelines. This website will be updated with the most current information.


To allow Commencement participants a time to worship together as a class, Baccalaureate will be an outdoor service, near Dimnent Chapel, at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 16. At this service we will do the traditional “Rope of Hope” and the Rev. Dr. Trygve Johnson will deliver the message.

This event is for students only and a reservation will be required. Students should plan to arrive by 8:15 a.m. There will be no assigned seating.

Reservations for Commencement and Baccalaureate

Due to social distancing guidelines, Commencement participants will be allowed two (2) guests to attend the Commencement ceremony. No paper tickets will be issued. Guests will check in upon arrival at the stadium.

Baccalaureate will require an advance reservation for the Commencement participant to attend. No guests will be allowed at Baccalaureate.

Commencement participants have been sent a form to submit their reservation requests. The deadline for making reservations is Friday, April 30.


An upscale boxed lunch featuring Michigan products will be available to Commencement participants and their two guests at no charge between 12 and 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 16.

All meals will be available for pick-up at Phelps Dining Hall. In accordance with MDHHS guidelines, we are able to offer the following seating options:

  • Phelps Dining Hall: seating for 100 guests
  • Cook Dining Hall: seating for 100 guests
  • Large tent outside of Phelps Hall
  • Large tent across from the Dow Center Picnic tables next to the Keppel House on 10th Street
  • Various picnic tables in the Pine Grove

Commencement participants have been sent a form to submit their reservation requests. The deadline for making reservations is Tuesday, May 11, at 12 p.m.

Dress Code

Participants should wear all Commencement attire (cap with tassel, gown, stole and anchor zipper pull) to Baccalaureate and Commencement. The tassel should be on the front left of the cap. Assuming Commencement is held outside, please wear flat-soled shoes to protect the artificial turf in the stadium.

Honor cords, tassels and other adornments are allowed if they have been distributed by a Hope-sponsored organization.

Traditionally, men follow the President's lead and remove their caps and leave them off for the duration of the Baccalaureate service. This is also true for the Commencement ceremony, although men may put their caps back on when President Scogin rises to award degrees. Women may keep their caps on throughout both Baccalaureate and Commencement.

REMINDER: If you haven't done so already, stop by the Bookstore anytime during their normal open hours to pick up a cap and gown. Stoles and zipper pulls will be distributed in the Student Life area of the Bultman Student Center on Monday, May 10, and Tuesday, May 11, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Commencement Parking

Guests can park in any Hope College parking lot not reserved for handicapped parking, as well as surrounding city streets as permitted by local ordinances. The Holland Department of Public Safety will be assisting with traffic flow and access to the stadium. We encourage you, if you are able, to walk from campus.


Lot 75, on the west side of Ray and Sue Smith Stadium, is reserved for handicapped parking only. Entrance to Lot 75 is only permitted from East 16th Street. Guests who need golf cart assistance to their seats will be met at their vehicles and escorted into the stadium.


Guests who wish to drop passengers off near the general pedestrian entrance (located at East 13th Street and Fairbanks Avenue) may do so only on East 13th Street. Stopping and guest drop-off is strictly prohibited on Fairbanks Avenue. 

Inclement Weather Plan

If we go by historical data, more than 90% of our Commencement ceremonies have had good weather and have been held outside. But in the event that inclement weather prevents us from hosting Commencement outdoors, the ceremony will be moved inside to DeVos Fieldhouse. Only Commencement participants (students) would be allowed to attend in-person. Hope College employees will host several locations on campus where the ceremony will be live-streamed for guests:

  • Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts Auditorium
  • Knickerbocker Theatre Auditorium
  • Bultman Student Center Family Room and Schaap Auditorium

These spaces will be available to guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Of course, live streaming will also be viewable by anyone below or at

Degree Posting and Diplomas

Student records will be checked for completion after final grades are due, starting:

  • May 24, 2021, for spring/May 2021 graduates
  • July 26, 2021 for summer/July 2021 graduates
  • January 3, 2022 for fall/December 2021 graduates

Check your unofficial transcript in your account to confirm your degree has been posted.

Assuming you do not have a financial hold, your diploma will be mailed to your permanent address, starting:

  • Early June 2021 for spring/May 2021 graduates
  • Mid-August 2021 for summer/July 2021 graduates
  • Mid-January 2022 for fall/December 2021 graduates

Keep your address up-to-date with the Alumni and Family Engagement Office.


Why is Hope College hosting two Commencement ceremonies and limiting graduates to two guests?

As we have practiced in our academic program this academic year, Hope College remains committed to hosting Commencement ceremonies that comply with state, county and college guidelines to maintain the health and safety of our graduates, guests and community.  The number of 2021 Commencement participants did not allow us to offer our traditional one ceremony.

Many colleges are not allowing participants to invite any guests to their Commencement ceremony. Hope College was committed to find a healthy and safe way to prioritize guests witnessing the commencement of their dear students.  We hope and pray that graduates, friends, and families are able to find their own special way to celebrate together after the ceremony.

Is there a way for my family and friends that cannot attend in-person to watch the 2021 Commencement ceremony?

Absolutely! Hope College will be live streaming both ceremonies at below or at

Why are the ceremonies divided by last name?  

The Registrar’s Office and the Provost’s Office looked into several variations that would allow us to remain compliant with current regulations. We looked at arranging the separate ceremonies by degree type, division, department and several combinations of these parameters. We have seniors earning multiple degrees and majors, and there was not a natural way to divide the graduating class in half, except by last name. Therefore, the two ceremonies will be divided as follows:

  • Last names A-K will attend the 11 a.m. ceremony.
  • Last names L-Z will attend the 3 p.m. ceremony.

What safety and health precautions is Hope implementing at the ceremonies?

  • Face coverings are required for all Commencement participants and guests.
  • Graduate seating will be appropriately spaced according to distancing guidelines. The number of guests invited to the ceremony was determined by the Covid-capacity of Ray and Sue Smith Stadium.  
  • Between ceremonies, Hope College employees will wipe down all guest and participant seating.

Will graduates walk across the stage?

Yes, this part of the ceremony will remain traditional. Faculty marshals will process rows of graduates to the stage, the Provost will announce the graduating student by the reading of their name, and the President will congratulate the student. This is normally done with a congratulatory handshake. However, rumor has it that this year President Scogin may be creative with his congratulatory acknowledgement of each student.

Will the Order of Exercises remain the same as a traditional year ceremony?

Graduates will not process as a class to their seats; they will immediately find their seats when they arrive at the stadium. In place of a processional, a celebratory introduction video will be shown. All other traditional ceremony exercises remain the same.

How long is each ceremony expected to last?

While the number of graduates has been reduced by fifty percent, the Commencement exercises (Commencement speaker, student names being read, students processing across the stage, etc) remain the same. Each ceremony is expected to last approximately 90 minutes.

Commencement Ceremony Live Streams

11 a.m.

3 p.m.