2021 Commencement Information


Congratulations, Graduates!

We are excited to honor and celebrate our American University Washington College of Law graduates during our Spring 2021 Virtual Commencement Celebration and related graduation activities. Amid facing extraordinary times and a global pandemic, you have finished law school, learning grit and resilience which will serve you well in your professional legal careers and personal lives.

The virtual celebration, which will take place Sunday, May 23, will honor 414 JD, 61 LL.M., one SJD, and 43 MLS graduates, including all our graduates from May 2021 and December and August 2020. The ceremony will be hosted by Associate Dean David Jaffe and feature remarks from Acting Dean Robert Dinerstein and student speaker Joy Applewhite ’21, as well as a commencement address from our 2021 commencement speaker Congressman Jamie Raskin. AU President Sylvia Burwell and Acting Provost Peter Starr will welcome the Washington College of Law graduates and present the honorary doctor of laws degree to Congressman Raskin.

As part of the commencement ceremony, Anna Isernia ’21 will sing the national anthem and Veronica Faison ’21 will sing “Lift Every Voice.” The program will feature a presentation of student awards and a formal recitation of each Spring 2021 graduate’s name and photo.

Sunday, May 23 Commencement Schedule

11 a.m. Washington College of Law Virtual Commencement Celebration, featuring commencement address from Congressman Jamie Raskin

2-3 p.m. Washington College of Law 2020 Graduates In-Person Commencement Procession

4:30-5:30 p.m. Washington College of Law Spring 2021 In-Person Commencement Procession

*See the American University site for full information about In-Person Commencement Procession

AUWCL Welcomes Congressman Jamie Raskin as 2021 Commencement Celebration Speaker

Congressman Raskin

We are excited to welcome Congressman and AUWCL Professor Emeritus Jamie Raskin as our 2021 Spring Commencement Celebration speaker.

Raskin is currently serving his third term as the U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. He sits on the Judiciary, House Oversight, House Administration, and Rules Committees and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Raskin will  receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the virtual commencement event.

“What an amazing honor to return to my beloved WCL after five years of being away, to receive an honorary degree and share some thoughts with the graduating students,” Raskin said. Learn more.

Additional Commencement Events

Along with our virtual celebration, graduates can participate in the following graduation events.

May 8: American University will post online at 11 a.m. EST the university-wide Spring 2021 Commencement Celebration for May graduates and will feature honorary degree speaker Todd Park, former Obama official and health care entrepreneur; the President’s charge to the graduates; and the conferral of degrees. The video will remain online throughout May.

May 15-25: We are opening the AUWCL campus for photo opportunities! See below for more information.

May 21-22: We invite graduates and your guests to an informal gathering on the AUWCL Quad. Please try to attend at the time indicated below for your 1L section; however, you may attend a different session if your assigned session doesn’t work; transfer students are free to attend any session. This is an outdoor-only event, rain or shine. The parking garage will be open.

  • Friday, May 21:
    • Section 1, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
    • Section 2, 1-3 p.m.
    • LLMs, 3-5 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 22:
    • Section 3, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
    • Section 4, 1-3 p.m.
    • Section 5, 3-5 p.m.

We will follow D.C. regulations in place at the time, including limiting the gathering to 250 people; if too many people come at any particular time, we will unfortunately have to ask some people to leave, so if you possibly can, please plan to come in the time-window indicated for your section, and leave at the end of that window. AUWCL will provide beverages for free and food trucks will be onsite for purchases.

May 23, 4:30-5:30 pm: In-Person Individual Commencement Procession: Graduates have received individual emails from main campus to cross the stage at Bender Arena. Registration is required for the Processions and must have been completed by Monday, April 26.

For questions and additional information, please email studentaffairs@wcl.american.edu

AUWCL Commencement Photo Opportunities

AUWCL invites 2020 and 2021 graduates to return to campus for photo ops! We will host 30-minute sessions on a registration basis until slots are full on:

  • May 15, 16, and 22 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • May 17-21 and 24-25 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
    Commencement Balloons

Each slot can accommodate 10 people (graduate plus guests), who will be met at the Nebraska entrance and be escorted through campus with three optional stops for photos:

  1. The Commons: “Class of 2021” Balloon Arch
  2. The Commons: Professional photographer and backdrop for graduate and/or family pose (graduate receives email proofs for purchase; no personal photos at this station)
  3. Skippy Weinstein Courtroom

The AUWCL Garage will be open for these sessions. Graduates must complete the Daily Self Screening prior to coming to campus. (Guests must review and abide by the screening questions but do not have to complete the screening.)

Graduates may dress in their regalia or as they choose; regalia will not be available onsite. All visitors must strictly adhere to the 30-minute time frame. Masks must we worn at all times inclusive of photos. Violators will be escorted from campus. Photos are encouraged outdoors on campus, subject to DC’s density restrictions.

Register for a 30-minute photo session here.

Commencement Resources

View the applicable following videos for more information regarding graduation:

Local hotels

While guests of graduates will not be included in Commencement activities and events, the law school is securing hotel discounts for those who intend to travel to D.C. Travelers to the area should adhere to the D.C. Mayor’s Order and Phase Implementations as well as to ongoing best practices.

Graduation Checklist

Remember to review the Graduation Checklist 2021 as soon as possible. Please follow the instructions provided and submit appropriate materials by the due dates listed.

Graduation Regalia

The graduation portal (for regalia rental and other purchases, hosted by Herff Jones) is open. Regalia rentals will direct ship both domestically and internationally and include a free return shipping label.


Call 202-274-4030 or email studentaffairs@wcl.american.edu.