Our 2023 Commencement ceremonies will take place Saturday, May 6
T he Henry Ford College (HFC) Commencement will take place Saturday, May 6, 2023. The ceremonies welcome students who graduated or will graduate with a degree in the Fall 2022, Winter 2023, or Summer 2023 semesters. Each student is assigned a specific ceremony based on your academic program.
You must obtain the HFC-approved cap and gown to participate in the commencement ceremonies. Cap and gowns from other ceremonies or institutions will not be permitted.
Important: Please review this webpage carefully for complete details about the ceremonies, regalia, and other information that will help everyone enjoy a great celebration of this wonderful day.
Ford Community & Performing Arts Center
15801 Michigan Ave
Dearborn MI 48126
Guest Information / Instructions (behavior, tickets, attire, prohibited items, etc.)
Attire for guests
- Appropriate guest attire is business or business casual.
Tickets are required
- Tickets for guests are distributed to graduating students, who then give the tickets to their guests. The number of guest tickets varies, depending on the number of attendees. Students usually receive 3 guest tickets. Students will be notified via their Hawkmail accounts if additional tickets become available.
- EVERY guest must have a ticket to enter the theater. This includes babies and children. Due to seating limitations, we cannot make any exceptions to the ticket policy. Tickets will only be distributed to the graduating student. Tickets are for general admissions seating. You may not save seats for other guests. If you wish to sit together, please enter the theater together.
- Guests without tickets may view the ceremony by sitting in our overflow room. The overflow room offers a live feed of the ceremony projected on a large, 10' by 10' screen. Guests with small children may use the overflow room for comfort. Guests must leave the theater and the overflow room after each ceremony concludes.
- The ceremony will also be live streamed for those who wish to watch the ceremony from home or a remote location. The streaming link will be provided on this webpage the day of the ceremony.
Cell phones and photos
- Cell phones and other electronic devices must remain silent. Guests should refrain from accepting or placing phone calls during the ceremony.
- Official photos of graduates will be available after the ceremony. Guests will not be allowed to enter the graduate area to take pictures. You may take photos from your seat.
No balloons, floral bouquets, food, or beverages
- Balloons are not allowed anywhere inside the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. Other prohibited items include noise-makers, confetti, silly string, shaving cream, and anything else that would be disruptive to the ceremony or our graduates and guests.
- Bouquets of flowers should not be brought into the theater, because space is limited. Corsages are permitted.
- Food and beverages are not permitted in the theater.
- Please behave in a way that will allow everyone to enjoy the ceremony and participate in the celebration. Please remain seated throughout the ceremony. You may cheer for your graduate as they cross the stage.
- Saving seats is not permitted, due to seating limitations. Guests must enter the theater with their entire party. Those who arrive at a different time will be seated separately.
- Disruptive guests, or those who violate the guidelines on this website, will be escorted out of the facility.
- Once the ceremony is completed, guests and graduates should meet in a location that you have determined in advance.
Graduating Students Information / Instructions
Commencement Regalia (cap and gown)
Order your HFC cap and gown no later than March 16, 2023.
You must wear the HFC-approved cap and gown to participate in the commencement ceremony. Cap and gowns from other ceremonies or institutions will not be permitted.
- Graduates receiving a bachelor’s degree must have an HFC-approved black cap and gown. Graduates receiving an associate degree must have an HFC-approved blue cap and gown.
- Comfortable business attire should be worn underneath your gown. Comfortable soft sole shoes are encouraged. You will be standing for a long period of time.
- Graduates may wear Honors, Student Council, Nursing, Phi Theta Kappa cords, sashes, tassels, pins, and medallions during the ceremony. Note: These items will not be provided at the ceremony. Graduates must obtain these items in advance.
- Graduates may not wear decorative pins, corsages, boutonnieres and other distracting items during the ceremony.
- Graduates must leave personal belongings in vehicles or with guests. This includes purses, flowers, phones, and similar items.
Decorating graduation caps
- Decoration of your Commencement cap is allowed, as long as the content is appropriate for an academic ceremony*. If the content is deemed inappropriate, you will need to remove the content to participate in the ceremony. If the content cannot be removed, you will not be permitted to wear the cap. *(Appropriate content for cap decorations must be respectful, relevant, non-political, non-discriminatory. Decorations must not extend more than 1" above the level of the cap's surface, and they must not extend beyond the frame of the cap. Decorations must be firmly affixed so they will not fall off and potentially impede other graduates.)
- Eligible graduates will receive an honor cord when they pick up their Commencement tickets. Please email email@example.com no less than 4 days prior to the ceremony if you have questions regarding the cord.
- Note: Eligibility is determined by your current cumulative GPA at the end of the Fall 2022 semester; it is not for an individual semester. Cords will not be provided at the ceremony.
- A professional photographer will take two photographs of each graduate.
- There is no obligation for you to buy photographs.
- A QR code will be sent to your Hawkmail prior to the ceremony. The photo company will mail thumbnail proofs and purchase information to your home after the ceremony.
Commencement Flowers provides graduates and guests with the opportunity to pre-order products online. Customers can purchase and reserve their products ahead of time and have them available for pick-up at the commencement venue.
- Graduates must arrive at the venue one hour prior to the start of the ceremony.
- Graduates will pick up a name card upon arrival. You will be directed to the appropriate line according to the first letter of your last name.
- Graduates should review your name card for spelling accuracy and apply corrections to it. If needed, please add a phonetic spelling to help the announcer pronounce your name correctly (i.e., If your last name is "CHARBONEAU," state on the name card that it is pronounced "SHAR-BO-NO").
- Graduates will be asked to go to another table to complete a card for the photographer. Graduates should complete a photography card even if you do not intend to purchase photos.
- Once graduates have received your name card and completed your photography card, you will be seated in the chairs provided. Do not rearrange the chairs. The chairs have been set to reflect the graduate seating arrangement inside the theater.
- Graduates should ensure that your tassel is on the right side of your cap. You will be told when to move the tassel from the right to the left side of your cap.
- Graduates must remain in the ballroom for further instructions.
During the Ceremony
- Graduates should walk at least one arm's length behind the person in front of you.
- Rise as a group and sit as a group when directed.
- When you proceed to the podium on the stage, the photographer’s assistant will collect your photography card. You will then hand your name card to the announcer who will read your name as you cross the stage.
- The photographer will photograph you as you are handed your diploma cover. The photographer will photograph you again before you return to your seat.
- Graduates are expected to stay for the entire duration of the ceremony. Leaving during the event is disruptive and disrespectful to fellow graduates.
- When the ceremony ends, you will be excused by rows and will proceed out of the theater. You will be directed to exit the theater through the left and right side doors. Follow those in your row as they exit.
- Do not stop in front of the theater doors after leaving the theater. Move away from the theater doors to ease congestion. Before the ceremony, decide where you and your guests will meet after the ceremony.
- Soon after Commencement, the photography company (not affiliated with HFC) will mail thumbnail proofs of each graduate, along with information on how to order pictures.
- Diploma packets for May 2023 graduates will be mailed by the end of August.
- Diploma packets for August 2023 graduates will be mailed by the end of November.
Definitions: Graduation, Commencement, Degree, Diploma, and Transcript
The Difference between Graduation and Commencement
Graduation means you have successfully completed your degree requirements and have earned your diploma.
You must apply for graduation. After you apply, the College will review all your coursework to make sure you have fulfilled the requirements to be awarded a degree. If you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will be eligible to attend Commencement, and you will receive a diploma about three months after the Commencement ceremony.
You do not have to attend the Commencement ceremony to graduate. We encourage you to attend the ceremony, as it is a wonderful event each year in May. But it is not required.
Commencement is a public ceremony in which you wear a cap and gown and celebrate your graduation with your family, friends, and fellow graduates. During the ceremony, you have the opportunity to have your name called and walk across the stage to receive a diploma cover and shake hands with the College president.
We encourage you to participate in the Commencement ceremony, but this is optional. You are not required to come to the Commencement ceremony to receive your degree.
Participation in a Commencement ceremony does not mean you have graduated. Earning your diploma happens when you have completed all the requirements for a degree and apply to receive that degree.
Sometimes people call the Commencement ceremony "graduation," which can be confusing. Graduation and Commencement are not the same thing, but it is understandable that people sometimes mix up the terms.
You must apply for and earn your degree to participate in Commencement
Who is eligible to attend the Commencement ceremony in May?**
*You are eligible if:
- You graduated the previous Fall semester OR
- You will earn an associate degree or bachelor's degree in the Winter or Summer semester AND
- You have applied for graduation by the March 15th deadline.
You will receive notifications about graduation and commencement through your Hawkmail email address. To attend the Commencement ceremony, you will need to complete and return the Commencement application and order a cap and gown.
Due to seating limitations, the Commencement ceremonies are open to students who earn an associate or a bachelor's degree from Henry Ford College. We are not currently able to include students who have earned a certificate.
You will not receive your actual diploma during the Commencement ceremony. We will mail your diploma to the address on file about 12 weeks after the semester ends. Log into student self-service to make sure your address is up to date and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if an update has been made.
The Difference between a Degree, a Diploma, and a Transcript
A college degree is one of the most important accomplishments you can achieve during your lifetime. You earn your degree after you have successfully completed the classes that are required for your degree with a sufficient grade in each class. You apply for graduation in the spring each year.
Why does a college degree matter?
A college degree is evidence that you have studied and learned skills or information that will help qualify you to perform a job or undertake advanced study. A college degree also teaches you valuable life skills such as critical thinking, how to use technology, how to think about and interact with other cultures and people, how to communicate and write effectively, and how to understand things like basic finances and numbers.
Most high-paying jobs require some form of college degree. A college degree is a lifetime accomplishment that will always be yours. It will continue to provide value to you throughout your career and lifetime.
Lifetime earnings vary greatly, depending on education, the number of years you spend in the workforce, your career path, and other factors. On average, data shows that a college degree can be worth $900,000 to $1.4 million more in lifetime earnings than you would earn if you only have a high school diploma.
A diploma is a high-quality paper representation the College will send you after you have completed your degree (graduated). The diploma uses ornate text and official language to certify that you have earned your degree.
The diploma is not the degree itself, but many graduates frame and hang this diploma on their wall. During the annual Commencement ceremony, the College will give you a padded diploma cover that is designed to hold and display your paper diploma.
Many employers and most universities will require that you provide an official HFC transcript before you begin a job or enroll in an advanced degree program.
The transcript is an official record of every class you took at HFC, the semester during which you took each class, and the grade you received in each class. Your official transcript is a form of proof that you have completed coursework and any certificates or degrees from HFC.
To order an official transcript from Henry Ford College, follow these instructions.
Previous Years Commencement Ceremonies / Tributes to Graduating Classes
If you have questions not addressed above, please reach out to us:
Office of Registration and Records
Henry Ford College
Dearborn, MI 48128