May Commencement FAQs
Class of 2020 / 2021 Frequently Asked Questions
We are delighted to be able to host in-person commencement celebrations this spring for the graduating classes of both 2020 and 2021.
The in-person ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students will take place at Alumni Park. Graduates will have the opportunity to process across the stage, hear their name announced, receive their diploma covers, and have photos taken. Density restrictions require graduates to have no more than two guests.
Those who plan to attend should stay informed about travel advisories issued by the California Department of Public Health and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
For those who cannot join us in Malibu, all in-person activities will be broadcast online, live, and on-demand for future viewing. Below please find additional information.
In-Person Commencement Ceremonies at Alumni Park
The Class of 2020 commencement ceremony will take place Friday, May 21, 2021 at 3:30pm in Alumni Park.
Students who completed their requirements in Spring 2019 who had more than 12 units in summer, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020.
The Class of 2021 commencement ceremony will take place Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 3:30pm in Alumni Park.
Students who completed their requirements from Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021.
The President and Provost will host commencement ceremonies to confer the degrees of our graduates at Alumni Park overlooking the ocean. Socially distanced ceremonies will take place at a limited capacity. Masks will be required for all guests and attendees. The ceremonies will take place on Friday, May 20 at 3:30 PM for the Class of 2020 and Saturday, May 22 at 3:30 PM for the Class of 2021. Students will receive a link to claim their guest tickets (2 per graduate) no later than May 7. Guest seating will be in the bleachers.
The President, Provost and Dean will present and confer degrees at this ceremony. Remarks will be given by the commencement speaker. Graduates will have the opportunity to process across the stage, hear their name announced, receive their diploma covers, and have photos taken.
Yes. Out-of-state graduates are permitted to attend, whether or not they are fully vaccinated. All graduates must RSVP to attend. The state of California has determined that guests who live out of state may attend commencement ceremonies provided they are fully vaccinated; graduates are limited to two guests due to social distancing requirements.
All graduating students will receive an email with the RSVP link. Due to state regulations, all graduates must RSVP to attend. Free guest tickets will be available to claim online starting on May 7. Graduates will be allowed to invite 2 guests each.
Los Angeles County Public Health Department density restrictions require graduates to have no more than two guests. Friends and family at home can watch live on our virtual platform. Graduates must RSVP and must claim tickets for their guests through our online ticketing platform, which will be available on May 7.
Tickets for the May commencement ceremonies are available at the Seaver commencement ticketing website.
As you prepare to register for tickets, please be aware that graduates must submit all ticket requests at the same time. Additional requests are not permitted in the ticketing system. When acquiring tickets, you will be required to indicate the vaccination status and/or residence of your guests, which will also be verified upon entry to the commencement ceremony.
The state of California has determined that guests who live in California may attend the in-person commencement ceremony. Guests will need to indicate their California residency upon acquiring tickets and provide proof of residency upon entry to the commencement ceremony.
No. All Pepperdine graduates are considered in-state residents by the State of California and do not need to be vaccinated to attend commencement. All graduates must complete their Wellness Check online prior to their arrival to campus.
Children over 2 years old will require their own ticket and seat. Any child under 2 years old must be seated on the ticket holder’s lap during the event.
In accordance with state and country directives, all guests age 16 and older will be required to present a state-issued identification (e.g., driver’s license or similar) that indicates their state of residence in order to gain entry to the commencement ceremony. All guests who are not residents of California will be required to present a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or a photo of their card evidencing their fully vaccinated status.
It is also recommended that you bring sunscreen and hats as sun-sensitive seating areas will be extremely limited.
Graduated seniors of 2020 and graduating seniors of 2021 may apply to speak at commencement. Two student participants are needed for each graduation: 1) Graduation Speaker; 2) Graduate to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The deadline to apply is Monday, May 3. For additional information, please visit the Senior Speaker page.
Due to the current county guidelines, there will not be concessions available at the ceremony, but water bottles will be made available for all graduates. Guests are welcome to bring their own water to the graduation ceremony.
Yes, for those who cannot join us in Malibu, all in-person activities will be broadcast online, live, and on-demand for future viewing. The link will be available on the commencement website.
No, graduates do not need to attend to have their degree conferred.
Diploma covers will be mailed to all graduates who cannot attend in person.
Yes. All graduate names will be read at the ceremony, whether they are able to attend or not.
Yes, Loqui will take place virtually on Thursday, May 20 and will be livestreamed. Full details on the program and graduate participation may be found on the Loqui website.
President Gash will deliver a virtual commissioning prayer and message on Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22 at 10 AM. The Office of the President invites graduating seniors and guests to attend the virtual prayer service. This time of prayer and worship will celebrate God’s work through students in their studies and service at Pepperdine, and offer blessings over their future journeys.
The state of California has determined that guests who live out of state may attend commencement ceremonies provided they are fully vaccinated; graduates are limited to two guests due to social distancing requirements. Guests will need to indicate their state residency and vaccination status upon acquiring tickets and upon entry to the commencement ceremony.
Yes. The state guidelines for guests to attend from out of state stipulate that all guests traveling from outside of California must show proof of being fully vaccinated (2 weeks past their final shot) to attend, regardless of age.
An individual is considered fully vaccinated (1) two weeks or more after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (e.g., Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) or (2) two weeks or more after they have received a single dose vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson / Janssen).
No. All out-of-state guests who wish to attend a commencement ceremony must be fully vaccinated. Additionally, Los Angeles County Public Health has indicated the following may not be used as exceptions to this requirement:
- I have a medical exemption and cannot receive the vaccine.
- I am a child younger than 16 and therefore not eligible for the vaccine.
- I have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90-days.
- I had COVID-19 and can show proof of immunity with antibody test results.
The only other exemption for out-of-state residents pertains to graduating students as they can participate in the commencement ceremony due to an exception made specifically for university students.
The University is not being more restrictive than what LA County Public Health allows, and in many cases throughout the pandemic has worked with colleagues at Public Health to allow further flexibility. Guests who have questions about the protocols the University is following are encouraged to call Pepperdine's COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. Restrictions are based on guidance from the California Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Pepperdine is actively working to include all of our graduates and as many guests as we are permitted to have at commencement ceremonies.
Throughout the pandemic, Pepperdine has petitioned L.A. County Public Health for adjustments to their protocols where appropriate. For example, the University petitioned to allow all graduates to attend commencement as in-state participants to which they agreed. Because the University wants to ensure that all graduates have the opportunity to participate in commencement, Pepperdine would not have held ceremonies this spring without this agreement.
Commencement ceremonies at Pepperdine must comply with California Department of Public Health and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health mandates, specifically the state's COVID-19 guidance for Commencement/Graduation Ceremonies and Outdoor Seated Live Events and Performances, and the county's Protocol for Live Outdoor Events and Performances. The progression of applicable guidance and protocols is detailed below:
- The California Department of Public Health COVID-19 guidance for Commencement/Graduation Ceremonies applies to all ceremonies in California and links to the state's COVID-19 guidelines for Outdoor Seated Live Events and Performances.
- California's COVID-19 guidance for Outdoor Seated Live Events and Performances protocol stipulates only in-state spectators are permitted. According to this protocol, information will be prominently placed on all communications, including reservation and ticketing systems, to ensure guests are aware of reservation and ticketing requirements. At the time a guest purchases tickets, the University must obtain an attestation that the guest's block of seat reservations contains no more than three households and that the guest, as well as all members of the guest's party, will be in-state visitors.
- The state's COVID-19 guidance for Outdoor Seated Live Events and Performances indicates events must comply with the county protocols in addition to the state protocols.
- The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Protocol for Live Outdoor Events and Performances indicates fully vaccinated individuals coming from outside of California can attend events which are limited to in-state attendees only.
- Pepperdine also sought and received clarification from the state/county that students (but not students' families or guests) could be considered in-state residents for purposes of commencement.
Yes. Graduation regalia must be picked up by the graduate in advance of the commencement ceremonies on Thursday, May 20, at the Malibu campus in the Drescher Graduate Campus parking lot. The Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 stoles/sashes will also be available for purchase. This will be a drive-through event restricted to graduates. Additional details, including the process to reserve a time period for regalia pick-up, will be shared no later than Wednesday, May 12.
Graduates attending the ceremony in person are not required to take action until the regalia distribution day. The regalia will be provided by Herff Jones free of charge but it must be returned after the ceremony. Regalia will be distributed based on sizing (height), no reservations are required. Students interested in purchasing sash/stoles will be able to do so on the distribution day.
Graduates who will not be participating in the commencement ceremonies may rent a cap and gown directly from Herff Jones to have them shipped to their homes. Due to delayed shipping and COVID-19 cleaning protocols, regalia rentals may take several weeks to arrive. There will be a charge to rent regalia and for shipping.
Regalia will be available for pickup at the Drescher Graduate Campus parking lot on Thursday, May 20.
A limited amount of regalia will be available at Alumni Park on the day of your ceremony; however, to avoid waiting in possibly long lines, we strongly recommend picking up your regalia in advance on Thursday, May 20.
All rented regalia should be dropped off in the return bins located at Alumni Park following your ceremony.
Please use the return shipping label that was included in your original delivery to ship back to Herff Jones.
Yes, the cap and tassel are yours to keep.
The university has partnered with Grad Images to provide our graduates with a safe and easy option for graduation photos that will be taken following the receiving of your diploma.
Honor cords are only given to undergraduate students who have a minimum 3.5 GPA. You will be contacted by your school’s commencement coordinator or academic advisor during the spring semester if you are eligible to receive one. They are free of charge.
Honor cords will be available for pickup prior to your commencement at the Graduate Check-In area.
Diplomas & Program
Diplomas will be mailed to your permanent address approximately eight to twelve weeks after degrees are conferred on May 21.
If you have worked with OneStop to confirm that your requirements are complete, you will be listed in the program (more details can be found here). There will be a program for the Class of 2020 and a separate program for the Class of 2021.
The commencement printed program will be handed out to students and guests at the in-person ceremonies at Alumni Park. You will also be able to download a copy of the program from the commencement website.
International students currently located abroad should work with the Office of International Student Services to review potential visa and US entry challenges involved with such travel. All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States. Please check back often for updates.
The situation with the pandemic is very fluid. If Los Angeles County moves back into the Purple tier (the most restrictive tier), the State and County guidelines prohibit gatherings of any size. If the county regresses to the Purple tier, the in-person ceremonies will be postponed to a future date when it is safe for everyone to gather.