The Office of University Events and Protocol is in charge of coordinating the annual Commencement ceremonies in Carbondale. Their http://commencement.siu.edu/ web site provides information for prospective graduates, participating faculty, and ceremony guests to use to make their plans for this special day. Specifically, the schedule of ceremonies is noted at http://commencement.siu.edu/ceremonies/.
Commencement ceremonies are held in May and December. There is no August ceremony, but those students who will complete their degree requirements during the Summer Session can have their degree conferred in August. Therefore, those Summer graduates who wish to attend a ceremony would normally attend the ceremony held in the following December. Some Summer graduates – but not Ph.D. students – will be allowed to attend a ceremony in the prior May per the Commencement Participation Policy, though such graduates would have to have their application for graduation submitted earlier than usual (see the graduation deadlines calendar for such deadlines).
There are usually three ceremonies held in May on the Saturday after final exams (e.g., May 14, 2016). These are held in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the early evening at the SIU Arena, and are divided up by college/school according to this schedule. (The School of Law may hold its own ceremony at a different time and place; Law graduates should contact the School of Law at 618-536-7711 for more specific information.)
There is usually one combined ceremony held in December on the Saturday after final exams (e.g., December 17, 2016). That ceremony is held in the afternoon at the SIU Arena.
Please note: If you will be having out-of-town guests come to watch you at a Carbondale ceremony and those guests will need to have overnight lodging in the area, we highly recommend that they make their lodging arrangements as far in advance as possible. Lodging choices for the city of Carbondale may be found at http://www.carbondaletourism.org/categories/stay. For the weekend of the May ceremonies, it is not uncommon for Carbondale lodging to be almost fully booked by the preceding January. If your guests are not able to secure Carbondale lodging, there are choices in other southern Illinois cities that may be found at http://www.enjoyillinois.com/thingstodo/7?rgnId=13 (though that may mean that they will be staying up to an hour or more away from Carbondale for this particular weekend).