Student News

May 2024 grads: Your most-asked questions about Commencement

The University of Kentucky May 2024 Commencement Ceremonies will take place May 3 and 4 at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 27, 2024) — This week, the University of Kentucky will celebrate its newest alumni at the May 2024 Commencement Ceremonies, taking place Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.

For many of this spring’s graduating seniors, this will be their first-ever graduation ceremony, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closings and cancellations that occurred in spring of 2020, when they graduated high school.

Around 4,300 graduates have registered to participate across the four ceremonies (out of 5,736 total degree candidates conferred by the UK Board of Trustees). Those who are registered are receiving email communication with details regarding the ceremonies, and should continue to read those emails up until the day of the ceremony for important information and updates. 

To ensure everyone is well-informed and prepared, UKNow went directly to some of these graduating students to ask what additional questions they still have, or may have missed in the hustle and bustle of wrapping up their academic journey at UK. 

Do you need tickets to attend Commencement?

No. There are no tickets or assigned seats for guests of graduates during Commencement.

What time should graduates and guests arrive at Rupp Arena?

Graduates should arrive ONE hour before their ceremony for check-in. The entrance is located on West High Street and there will be signage directing graduates to check-in. Grads can find their college’s ceremony time here:

Guests of graduates may arrive up to one hour before the ceremony start time. Doors to Rupp Arena will not be open prior to one hour before the ceremony.

Where should graduates and guests park? Is there a shuttle?

The Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center parking lot is located on West High Street and will have free parking for all guests and graduates. To ensure all graduates and their families have an enjoyable experience, guests are asked to move their vehicle from the High Street Lot immediately after their ceremony concludes to ensure the next ceremony can start on time. A map of these locations can be found here.

Shuttle services will run continuously from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday from Administration Drive (across from Cornerstone Garage, Parking Structure #5) to Rupp Arena​ at Central Bank Center. The Cornerstone parking structure, located on 401 South Limestone, will also be open for those interested in shuttling from campus. Entrances to the parking structure are located on both South Limestone and South Upper Street.

Is there a processional of graduates at the beginning of the ceremony?

No. After graduates check in they will make their way into the arena and find a place to sit with their college. Faculty marshals and posted signage will direct graduates on where to go. The platform (stage) party will process into the arena at the beginning of the ceremony when all graduates are seated. 

Which side of the floor is my college sitting? Where should I tell my family to sit so they can see me?

Seating charts for each ceremony are available here. Families may opt to sit on the side that faces their graduate’s college.

What’s the walking order for the colleges in my ceremony?

The walking order for each ceremony is listed here:

Will there be a speaker?

A graduating student will give a 5-minute address and there will also be a brief performance by a spoken word poet. 

How will I know when it’s my turn to cross the stage?

During check in, graduates will receive a card with their name on it. They will hold on to this card until it's time to walk across the stage. During the presentation of diplomas, graduates will be instructed to stand and line up by the faculty marshals. Just before going on stage, graduates will hand their card to event staff who will run the card through a device that will display the graduate’s name/degree on the jumbotron/livestream, and the reader will say the graduate's name as they walk across the stage.

What happens after I receive my diploma? Where should I go?

After being handed their diploma, graduates will take a quick professional photo on stage, exit the stage/arena, take an additional portrait against a backdrop, and be greeted with a gift from the UK Alumni Association. Graduates are then welcome to follow signs over to Club C on the Lower Level of Central Bank Center for Grad Gathering, hosted by the Alumni Association, where they can meet up with their family and friends and enjoy refreshments, receive a gift and take their own photos against a Commencement backdrop. 

Does Commencement follow Rupp Arena’s security policies?

Yes, with some adjustments. Patrons may only have one clear bag (no larger than 12"x12"x6") or one small clutch purse, with or without handle or strap (no larger than 9”x 5”) for their personal items. All bags and items will be searched.

All signs, flags, posters and amplification devices (megaphones, speakers, etc.) are strictly prohibited.

Is there ceremony livestreamed?

Yes. All ceremonies will be livestreamed on UK’s YouTube channel. Links and embedded videos of the streams will be available to watch and share via the UK Commencement website and UKNow the day of the ceremonies. Full video of each ceremony should remain available to watch on YouTube after the event concludes.

How long do the ceremonies last?

Ceremonies are expected to last around two hours depending on how many students participate. This may vary from family to family as students will leave after walking across the stage, so graduates may not be inside Rupp Arena for the full two hours.

Is there a reception following the ceremony?

Yes! The Alumni Association hosts a Grad Gathering following each ceremony. Graduates and their families are encouraged to attend and meet up in Club C on the Lower Level. Signage will direct graduates to the reception after they exit the stage/arena. Learn more here.


The UK Commencement ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, May 3, and 9 a.m. Saturday, May 4. A list of college and ceremony times can be found at

Find more information and answers to additional FAQs here.

Congratulations to the May 2024 UK grads! Share your special day on social media by using the hashtag #UKgrad.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.