A crowd of graduates wearing graduation caps and gowns with red and yellow balloons falling down on them.

May 2023 Commencement by the Numbers

Commencement is here. These are some of the key stats that explain just what that means.

Each year, May commencement marks the end of an academic year and a new beginning for thousands of Virginia Commonwealth University graduates. This year’s universitywide ceremony will be held on May 13 at 10 a.m. at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. These numbers help show what makes the day so special for VCU’s unstoppable grads and their many supporters.

A collage of photos of student portraits


… students (approximately) are graduating this week. That includes more than 3,000 undergraduates. Almost 1,000 are earning master’s, while more than 370 are receiving first-professional degrees (e.g., M.D., D.D.S.) and more than 250 will pick up a Ph.D. About 180 will receive certificates, while four (at last count) are earning post-professional degrees. You can get to know more than 30 of our newest graduates here.

A stage with people wearing caps and gowns sitting down. In front of the stage are rows of seats of students wearing graduation caps and gowns.


... career blocks for Mo Alie-Cox, Saturday's commencement speaker, during his career on the VCU men's basketball team.

A photo of a man wearing a cap and gown standing with is hands on his hips. Behind him is black text that reads \"VCU Our grads are UNSTOPPABLE\"
Mo Alie-Cox recalls his days at VCU and prepares to motivate graduates at commencement.


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

World map.
(Getty images)


…first-generation graduates are earning bachelor’s degrees, making the day a particularly special one for them and their families.

Top five degree fields

…for this week’s graduates:

Social Work





A woman wearing a graduation cap and gown jumping in the air with pom poms

Some more about our roughly 4,700 grads: The oldest is 67 years old and the youngest is 19. Underrepresented minorities constitute 30% of the graduates.

May commencement is the university’s largest event of the year, and it requires extensive planning and coordination by a dedicated team. It also requires a bit of flair to make sure the atmosphere is suitably festive. Some of the features to look for include:


…black and gold balloons will float at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Saturday.

A man wearing a graduation cap and gown walking and holding two giant balloons in front of a crowd of graduating students.


…VCU-branded foam sticks will help shine a light on the graduates and their special moment.


…pom poms will be waiting for our graduates and their fans to cheer on their accomplishments.


…folding chairs will accommodate the students, faculty, staff, family members and friends who have come to celebrate the big day.

White foam sticks that say \"VCU CLASS OF 2023\" in yellow and black letters.
Chairs with pom poms and plastic bracelets


…ceremonies will be held 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. More details about those events are available at commencement.vcu.edu.

Students wearing caps and gowns waving black and yellow pom poms in the air.


…students will receive the Board of Visitors Award, which recognizes the achievements of outstanding undergraduate students who represent the distinctive attributes of a VCU student. Isabel “Izzy” Diaz is a mass communications student in the Robertson School of Media and Culture, and Zion Segears is a student in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences in the College of Humanities and Sciences. The recipients receive a one-year scholarship in the amount equal to in-state tuition and fees.

Two students wearing cap and gowns hugging
Photos by Enterprise Marketing and Communications