Baccalaureate Service

Baccalaureate 2020 will be held virtually this year. The virtual Baccalaureate Service video will be released on the Commencement website on Sunday, May 17 at 10am. 

Picture of the Baccalaureate ceremony facing the North Transept.

About the Service

The Baccalaureate Service is a multi-faith service celebrating the completion of each undergraduate's academic career.

This ceremony features a procession that includes undergraduate degree candidates from Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of General Studies, and Barnard College. Service highlights include hymns, musical selections, readings, reflections, and speeches by students. All undergraduate degree candidates and their guests are invited to attend.

Picture of the Baccalaureate ceremony in the Nave of St. Paul's Chapel.


The Baccalaureate Service is believed to have originated at Oxford University in 1432 when each bachelor was required to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of his academic exercise. This historical British practice continued with the earliest universities in this country, which were founded primarily to educate ministers. Columbia University began this tradition in 1897 and the ceremony continues today as an interfaith, intercultural service celebrating each undergraduate's academic career.

Mother hugging her daughter after the Baccalaureate ceremony outside the front of St. Paul's Chapel.


Date: Sunday, May 17, 2020
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Academic Attire: Required of participating graduates
Tune in to watch the Service via live Webcast.

Columbia University continues to closely monitor the evolving COVID-19 developments. At this time, we are pleased to share that we will have a virtual Baccalaureate Service. A pre-recorded version of the Service will be shared on the Commencement website the morning of Sunday, May 17th. 

The service is coordinated jointly by the Earl Hall Center for Religious Life and the Commencement Office/University Programs and Events. For more information about this event, please visit the University Commencement Website and the Commencement website Baccalaureate page.