Graduation cap decorated with the words the best is yet to come.
Many of the 5,000-plus will attend the universitywide commencement ceremony, which is in-person for the first time since the pandemic began. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

Spring 2022 commencement by the numbers

Roughly 5,000 graduates, more than 40 different ceremonies and a whole bunch of beach balls

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May 14. It’s a date many VCU students have been waiting for, not to mention their families and friends. It’s the day when thousands of them will be graduating. Here’s a quick look at some other numbers tied to this year’s spring commencement.

Portraits of Gabriel Thomas, Olivia White, Akira Goden, Michael Portillo, Jeff Renner and Monica Jimenez Sablich.
(clockwise from top left) May graduates Gabriel Thomas, Olivia White, Akira Goden, Michael Portillo, Jeff Renner and Monica Jimenez Sablich.


…students who are graduating this May. More than 3,000 of them are receiving bachelor’s degrees, nearly 1,000 are earning master’s, 232 will soon have Ph.D. next to their names, roughly 400 are earning first-professional degrees (e.g., M.D., D.D.S.) and 190 are receiving certificates. You can get to know more than 20 of our May graduates here.

Rows of people sitting in chairs.
The crowd at VCU's universitywide commencement ceremony in May 2019. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)


…chairs will be set up in the Greater Richmond Convention Center, where the universitywide commencement ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. on May 14. Many of those seats will be occupied by the family and friends of graduates, though at times we expect them to be empty as those family members and friends jump to their feet to cheer on their grads. While students must RSVP for the ceremony, guests do not need tickets and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

World map.
(Getty images)


…countries represented by the May graduates. And if their families can’t travel to Richmond for the universitywide ceremony, they can go to to watch a livestream of the event on Saturday.


…first-generation graduates earning bachelor’s degrees, meaning that their loved ones are extra proud to be seeing the first in their families don caps and gowns as they earn a college degree.

A bit more about our roughly 5,000 grads. The oldest is 74 years old and the youngest is 18. Underrepresented minorities constitute 28% of the graduates.

Pin in the shape of the number 1 that says You First at VCU.
First-generation graduates receive a pin to wear on their commencement regalia. (Courtesy photo)
Beach balls.
(Getty images)


…beach balls that will bounce around among the graduates at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Saturday.

a symphony conductor, speaks to his musicians during a rehearsal. everyone is wearing a mask
Terry Austin during a rehearsal of VCU's symphonic wind ensemble. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)


…consecutive years (with the exception of a two-year pandemic gap) that professor Terry Austin, Ph.D., has been leading the band at the main commencement ceremony. Austin is chair of the Department of Music and is retiring this summer after 36 years at VCU and 36 years as the director of bands.

Top five majors 

…of the students receiving bachelor’s degrees:

  • Psychology
  • Social work
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Nursing
Illustration of brain composed of puzzle pieces.
(Getty Images)
Graduates hugging.
Graduates gather outside the Altria Theater at the May 2021 School of Medicine commencement ceremony. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)


…ceremonies in addition to the universitywide commencement to celebrate students based on their college, school, department and other affiliations. They take place at venues all over the university and the city, including the Siegel Center, the Altria Theater and the Virginia War Memorial.

Samia Saleem wearing a black hijab and a dark blue blouse with white lines forming squares.
Samia Saleem, a psychology major, will be the student speaker on Saturday at VCU's spring commencement. (Photo by Kevin Morley, University Marketing.)


…student speaker addressing the crowd at the universitywide commencement ceremony. Samia Saleem is a psychology major and chemistry minor on a pre-medical track with an interest in researching Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Editor’s note: All data are accurate as of May 11, 2022.