A University of Mary student sitting at commencement.

University of Mary Commencement

The University of Mary invites families and the general public to attend the annual Commencement Ceremony, which celebrates the individual achievements of our students. Held in April, Commencement is the culmination of all the hard work our students put in to receive their degrees. 

The University of Mary livestreams Commencement for friends and family members who cannot attend on our YouTube page and at

Ceremony Details

Guests should enter the Event Center through door A1, which is the main arena entrance on the SW corner of the building. Graduates will enter at a different location through door E42. Parking will be free on the day of the ceremony in the Bismarck Event Center main lots. However, Lot B (west side of the Event Center) is a paid lot at $5. Lot E is reserved for event staff.

Bismarck Event Center Maps & Directions

Guests will be seated in the stadium seating of the arena. Graduates will be seated on the floor. All seats in the main arena should provide a good view of the proceedings, and the action will also be up on the big screens. However, if you would like to sit as close to your graduate as possible, here are some guidelines.

  • We cannot predict where exactly any student will end up being seated, as it comes down to degree type, alphabetization by last name, and who chooses to attend the ceremony in person.
  • Students are lined up by degree type, then by alphabet within degree type. The general order is doctoral degrees first, then master’s, then bachelor’s degrees.
    • East Side:
      • Doctoral degree graduates will be at the very front of the east floor seating.
      • Master’s degree graduates will follow the doctorates, filling most of the remainder of the east floor seating.
      • Depending on the final RSVP counts, the Bachelor of Arts graduates will either be at the very end of the east floor seating or else they will be at the front of the west floor seating.
    • West Side:
      • Depending on the final RSVP counts, the Bachelor of Arts graduates will either be at the very end of the east floor seating or else they will be at the front of the west floor seating.
      • All remaining bachelor’s degree graduates will be in the west floor seating.

The Bismarck Event Center is wheelchair accessible. If any guests require wheelchair-accessible seating, please speak to the greeting staff upon entry to the arena, and they will direct you to the elevator and the correct balcony. Note that guests will need to bring their own wheelchairs and other mobility aids—these items are not available at the Event Center.

For those who speak American Sign Language (ASL), an ASL interpreter will be cast on the big screens for easy visibility.

If other accommodations are needed, please email at least a month prior to the ceremony. We will provide information about any other services and access that is available.

No need to try and rush the stage during the pivotal moment—the Lifetouch team will professionally photograph your graduate during the ceremony. Text 422953GY24 to 90738 to opt-in to view your commencement photos after the commencement ceremony.

Photos will be available online 2-3 weeks after the ceremony. You can also visit the website to sign up and receive a notification when your images are available. 

Commencement plaques that are given out by the University of Mary upon graduation.

The University of Mary graduation plaque is symbolic of many things: it speaks of Christianity, of North Dakota, and of the Benedictine spirit. In the center of the plaque is set the University of Mary seal. In the seal, the letter “M” stands for Mary and marks the Christ-centered life of the university. It takes its form from Indian design, denoting the native culture of North Dakota. The two “hills” of the “M” are characteristic of the land on which the University of Mary stands, flat-topped prairie bluffs separated by coulees and valleys.

The simple, angular form of the plaque echoes the architectural design of the university. The cross planted between the hills symbolizes the bringing of new life to an age-old land – a message born on earth from the Creator of the earth, the mystery of the Incarnation proclaimed by the Church. The composition speaks simply of the Benedictine spirit and feeling for life, simplicity and truth, without being artificially modern, classy, or pictorial. In, of, and by itself, it is not a picture of any of these things and yet it reflects each of them.

Share the Celebration!

Family, friends, and guests of our graduates are all warmly invited to the Graduation Celebration, sponsored by Student Government and the Alumni Association, after Commencement in the Lumen Vitae University Center on the main campus. Food and beverages are served with live music, and gathering places are available both indoors and outdoors.

As you are capturing the big day, please get social! Use the hashtags #UMaryGrad and #LifeatMary on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Follow @umary for tweets from Commencement and all the surrounding festivities.