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Graduation Central
Master's/CAGS/EdS Ceremony

Class of 2020 and 2021 Commencement
July 29, 2021 - 6:00pm - Gillette Stadium

Graduate Student Commencement Speaker Guidelines

Every year a Master's or CAGS/EdS degree candidate is chosen to address the commencement audience and represent the graduating class as the commencement student speaker. Being the student speaker at the event gives you an opportunity to reflect upon your experience at BSU, to convey a message of inspiration and motivation, and to thank friends, family and members of the university community who have supported you. Assistance will be provided to help finalize your commencement speech. You will also be a part of the platform party and be seated on the stage.

Qualifications and Eligibility
  • Students must be in good academic standing by achieving a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Students that have graduated in August or December 2020 or have applied to graduate in May 2021 are eligible to serve as the 2021 Graduate Student Commencement Speaker
  • Students must have met all graduation requirements

  • Students must have submitted an application to graduate
  • Students must submit a Graduate Student Commencement Speaker application
  • Students must attach a 3-4 minute draft of their proposed graduation speech to the Graduate Student Commencement Speaker Committee. The speech should be eloquent, entertaining, expressive, and must resonate with the audience. The draft should be typewritten, double-spaced, and should include a cover page with name, address, telephone number, e-mail and date of graduation. Do not include name or identifying information on the essay pages. Please read the general guidelines for speech writing.
  • Students must submit one letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor or DGCE Chair.
  • Selection will be based on incorporation of guidelines and overall quality of writing.
  • Student must be available for an audition of their commencement speech before the committee members (date TBD)
  • Student must be available for speech rehearsal (date TBD)

Deadlines and Important Dates
  • Application to Graduate – February 1st
  • Graduate Student Commencement Speaker application with draft must be submitted by May 14th
  • Applications will be reviewed by the end of May. Completion of all graduation requirements will be verified by the graduation coordinator.
  • Notification to finalists by early June.
  • Interview and audition of speeches by mid-June.
  • Selection and notification to student speaker and alternate student speaker by late June.

Committee Members
  • College of Graduate Studies staff members
  • Faculty member

General Guidelines for Speech Writing

The message from a member of the graduating class traditionally falls before the hooding ceremony. The following information is provided to guide the development of your speech.

  1. A successful commencement speech should convey a message that is specific to the speaker and also has significance for a wide audience. Your own experience should be your inspiration, but while your personal story may have great meaning for you, it may not resonate with all guests in the audience.
    • Use personal anecdotes and appropriate humor to motivate, encourage and inspire your audience.
    • Remind your audience of the joyous event they are celebrating.
    • Remember that you are speaking to/for/with your classmates.
    • Consider using any one of the following suggestions to develop an inspirational thread to weave throughout your speech: overcoming of a challenge-personal or academic; achieving a goal; leading by example; making a difference; and/or using shared experiences as a springboard for future success
    • Remember, an effective commencement speech reflects the sentiments of your classmates through shared experiences. Use personal experiences only as an inspiration to your classmates. The spotlight may seem to be on you, but your job is to use your experience and refocus its beam on your classmates and your shared achievement – graduation.
  2. Consider your audience: classmates, faculty, staff, family, and friends. Your speech should acknowledge those whose sacrifices and encouragement have helped you achieve your goals.
  3. Ask yourself - what do I want my audience, particularly my classmates, to feel at the end of my speech? Motivated? Inspired? Encouraged?
  4. Ask yourself - what do I NOT want my audience to feel at the end of my speech? Bored? Relieved? (Imagine yourself sitting in the audience listening to your speech. What do you feel? If it's bored or relieved, go back to the drawing board. Revise and edit.)
  5. Avoid clichés. Make appropriate use of metaphor.
  6. Be original.
  7. Be brief. Be sincere. According to Whitman and Foster (1987), a commencement speech generally addresses the following three topics:
    • It offers congratulations
    • It reviews accomplishments, and importantly,
    • It issues a challenge. The word commencement denotes a beginning....What inspirational thoughts can you share which will assure that you and your classmates are prepared and ready to take up life's challenges as you take your place in society?

Any questions or concerns, please contact Peg Buonanduci, Assistant Director, College of Graduate Studies, Maxwell Library, room 021, Bridgewater State University 508.531.1238.

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Master's/CAGS - Popular Links

Graduation and Degree Requirements
Apply to Graduate
Claim Tickets
Accessibility Request Form
Commencement Participation Appeal

Dates to Remember

Apr 29 Academic Robes available
at the BSU Bookstore
(currently available online)
May 14 Student Speaker Application Due
Jun 14 Claim Tickets
Jul 15 Accessibility Request Form Due
Jul 29 Commencement Day

College of Graduate Studies
Maxwell Library
Room 021