Graduation and Commencement

Harper Diploma

2017 Graduation Ceremony

The Commencement Ceremony will be held Saturday, May 20, 2017, with a delayed start time of 11:45 a.m. 

Weather Update

5/20/17 11:20 a.m.: Harper College continues to monitor the weather for today’s commencement ceremony. Due to the weather forecast, the graduation ceremony is delayed until 11:45 a.m. Updates will be posted online.

Indoor viewing is available in Buildings D, E and W, or you can watch the ceremony online.

In case of inclement weather:

  • Rain: The ceremony will be held as scheduled or slightly delayed if the forecast calls for the rain to subside. Ponchos will be provided for graduates. Guests should bring their own rain gear.
  • Lightning or other severe weather: The ceremony will be delayed for a reasonable period of time. In the event lightning or severe weather continues, the ceremony will be cancelled.

The College will make every effort to hold the ceremony at or near the scheduled time, with the safety of our graduates, guests, faculty and staff taking first priority. If the ceremony is cancelled, it will not be rescheduled.


The ceremony will include fall 2016 graduates and candidates for spring 2017 and summer 2017 graduation. While we encourage you to participate in the graduation ceremony, attendance is optional.

Students may complete program requirements at the end of fall or spring or summer semesters. However, there is only one Commencement Ceremony, held in May.

Arne DuncanAs managing partner at Emerson Collective, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan returns to Chicago on a mission to improve the lives of young adults in his hometown. Through partnerships with local business leaders, community organizers, and nonprofit groups, Duncan aims to create job and life opportunities for disconnected youth between the ages of 17 and 24.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Duncan served as chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools. From 2001 to 2008, Duncan won praise for uniting the city’s stakeholders behind an education agenda that included opening 100 new schools; expanding after-school, summer learning, early childhood, and college access programs; dramatically boosting the caliber of teachers; and building public-private partnerships around a variety of education initiatives. Duncan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1987, majoring in sociology. At Harvard he served as co-captain of the basketball team and was named a first team Academic All-American.

Emerson Collective is an organization dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential. Established by Laurene Powell Jobs, Emerson Collective centers its work on education, immigration reform, the environment and other social justice initiatives. 

Application for Degree or Certificate

Students must submit the Application for Degree or Certificate Completion no later than one week after the mid-term of the semester in which the student intends to receive a degree or certificate. The student's records are reviewed and the student is notified of his or her eligibility to obtain a degree or certificate.

Graduation Regalia

All graduates attending the ceremony must order a cap and gown. The cap, gown and tassel are yours to keep. Order your cap and gown by April 12, 2017 to avoid a late fee.


Official diplomas inscribed with individual names are not given out at the ceremony. You will be notified by mail to pick up your diploma when it has arrived in the Registrar's Office. If you know you will not meet all the requirements for graduation, you must defer participation until all requirements are met.

Official certification of spring graduates will start when all grades are final. Notification of diploma pick-up will be mailed to you in the beginning of July.   

Official certification of summer graduates will begin the first week of August. Notification of diploma pick-up will be mailed to you in late August.

Participation in the commencement ceremony does not automatically confer degrees or certificates. Confirmation of graduation will occur after a review of final coursework.

Live Webcast

The commencement ceremony will be webcast live on


Congratulations, Graduate! We look forward to seeing you at the ceremony and sharing this special occasion with you!

  • When and where is the commencement ceremony? Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at 11:45 a.m. on the Harper College main campus located at 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine. The ceremony will take place outdoors near the newly constructed Pavilion behind Building D.
  • Who is eligible to participate in the ceremony? All fall 2016 graduates and any student who has applied to graduate for the spring or summer 2017
  • Is there a guest speaker at the ceremony? Yes, the speaker is Arne Duncan, managing partner at Emerson Collective, and former U.S. Secretary of Education. Arne Duncan returns to Chicago on a mission to improve the lives of young adults in his hometown. Through partnerships with local business leaders, community organizers, and nonprofit groups, Duncan aims to create job and life opportunities for disconnected youth between the ages of 17 and 24.
  • When can I pick up my cap and gown? You may pick up your cap and gown from HarperStore (L260) beginning May 8. If you have questions regarding your cap and gown, contact HarperStore at 847.925.6275. You should arrive at the ceremony dressed in your gown. Tassels should be worn on the right side of the mortarboard and then moved to the left once degrees and certificates are conferred.
  • Will my name be in the Graduation Program? An Application for Degree or Certificate must be submitted by April 21, 2017, to have your name included in the Graduation Program.
  • Is there a graduation rehearsal? There will not be a graduation rehearsal. Information can be found from this list of FAQs and the graduation web site at Graduates must arrive at 10 a.m. in order to line up for the procession.
  • Have I graduated if I walk in the ceremony? Graduation is confirmed once all credit is awarded, grades are confirmed and degree/certificate requirements are met. The ceremony is simply a celebration.
  • What time should I arrive at the ceremony and where should I park? Please arrive no later than 10 a.m. Procession will begin promptly at 10:45 a.m. Parking is available in lots 8-12 and the enclosed parking in G (parking structure). Students and guests will not be charged a fee for parking in G the day of the ceremony.
  • Where do I go once I've parked? Go directly to Building D. Only graduates are allowed in Building D. Family and friends must go to the guest seating area. Graduates will line up according to degree or certificate – AA, AS, AGS, AES, AFA, AAS, Certificates and Health Career graduates. Signs will be placed throughout the line-up area and volunteers will be there to assist with the line-up.
  • How early will my guests be seated and where should they park? We will begin seating guests at 10 a.m. Guests should park in lots 8-12 and the enclosed parking in G. There will be signs directing graduates and guests to designated parking areas. Individuals with disabilities should park in any adjacent accessible parking spaces. Additional seating for guests to view the ceremony indoors will be located in Building D near Starbucks and Building E. Starbucks will be selling coffee and refreshments from 9am – 1:30 pm.
  • Is there a limit to the number of guests I may invite? Do they need tickets to attend? Although there is no restriction on the number of friends and family members you can invite, we ask that you limit your total number of guests to no more than five. Guests do not need tickets to attend.
  • What do I need to bring to the ceremony? You will receive your name card when you pick up your cap and gown at HarperStore beginning May 8. Please do not forget to bring your name card with you as this will be used to announce your name at the ceremony. You will hand the name card to a designated faculty name reader as you cross the stage.

    Please leave any valuables with family or guests. There will be no designated area at the ceremony where you may leave your valuables. You will not be permitted to carry your purse with you across the stage. If you choose to carry your cell phone or camera with you, please be advised that Harper College is not responsible for the loss or damage to these or any other valuables.

    As a courtesy to your fellow graduates, texting and photography are not allowed during the ceremony. Please have your cell phone or any other electronic devices set to vibrate.
  • Will pictures be taken of graduates as they cross the stage? Harper College has made arrangements with a graduation photography company to photograph you as you are shaking hands with the President and as you exit the stage. The company, Graduation Foto, will contact you regarding graduation pictures. If you do not hear from them within a few weeks after the ceremony, you may contact them at 800.482.0321.There is no obligation to purchase pictures.

    You will receive a graduation photo card when you pick up your cap and gown from HarperStore. Be sure to fill out the card and bring it with you to the ceremony. The card will be collected as you walk to the stage.
  • Can guests purchase flowers at the ceremony? Yes, Harper College has made arrangements with a florist to purchase flowers and they will be available near the guest seating area.
  • How long is the ceremony? The ceremony will last approximately one and a half to two hours.
  • I have a guest who requires accommodations for a disability, who should I contact regarding this? Contact Access and Disability Services at 847.925.6266. A sign language interpreter and closed captioning will be available at graduation. Please note that Harper College does not provide wheelchairs. There will be a drop off area for guests with special needs outside Building W, the Wojcik center. Guests will be transported to the Pavilion from this area.
  • When will I receive my diploma? Official certification of spring and summer graduates will start when all grades are final. Notification of Diploma pick-up will be sent out approximately 8 weeks after the semester ends.
  • What should I wear? The ceremony will be held in an uncovered area outdoors, near the newly constructed Pavilion behind building D. Along with the standard graduation regalia that you have ordered from HarperStore, we suggest comfortable shoes for walking. Guests should also dress appropriately for weather.
  • What should I do in the event of inclement weather such as lightning or a tornado? Please make sure to check the Harper web site for the most up-to-date information about weather conditions and the commencement ceremony.
  • Whom should I contact if I have additional questions? Contact the Registrar's Office by phone 847.925.6500 or email