Milestone Events & Traditions

Graduation celebration

Graduate Milestone Events  

The Graduate School celebrates the accomplishments of its graduate student community through various events. Whether it's our pinning ceremony at Orientation, our Graduate Recognition and Hooding Ceremony, our White Coat Ceremony, or Howard's Homecoming celebration, each event marks the achieved milestones and accomplishments of our graduate students and alumni. Below are a few of the events that celebrate accomplishment and community at Howard. 


Graduate School students in regalia at Hooding Ceremony

Graduate School Annual Recognition & Hooding Ceremony 

The Graduate School’s Annual Recognition and Hooding Ceremony is a rite of passage and the final milestone for master's and doctoral degree candidates who have met the requirements to receive their respective graduate degrees. During the Recognition and Hooding Ceremony, each candidate is recognized by their department as they walk across the stage.  As part of the event, deans, department chairs, and guest speakers honor students' achievements and dedication to research. The milestone event features the Doctoral Walk, a ceremonial procession of doctoral candidates led by African drummers as a tribute to the African ancestors on whose shoulders they stand. Candidates carry their hoods to demonstrate their continued pursuit of knowledge.

White Coat Ceremony

White Coat Ceremony 

The Graduate School’s White Coat Ceremony is an annual tradition marking the entry of an incoming class of Speech-Language Pathology graduate students into the Communication, Sciences, and Disorders department within the Graduate School and into their clinical and research experiences. This rite of passage for beginning students honors their commitment to pursue careers reflective of empathy, compassion, and care. During the ceremony, Howard Graduate School deans and faculty members recognize students as they don their first white coats. The White Coat symbolizes the oath of commitment students take to dutifully serve and care for their patients. During the ceremony, students are offered an inspiring charge and recite an oath to service, as a firm commitment to care for their patients with integrity. 

Bouchet honor society induction at Howard

Bouchet Graduate Honor Society Induction Ceremony 

Named for the first African American doctoral recipient in the United States (Yale, Physics, 1876), the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society (BGHS) promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education. The Society seeks to develop a network of scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for those who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy. Each April, a group of nominated Bouchet Scholars is inducted into the Bouchet Honor Society at the Annual Yale Bouchet Conference typically held in New Haven, CT. This annual conference is also a great opportunity for BGHS members to present their research in an interdisciplinary setting.

Graduate School Pinning Ceremony

Graduate School Pinning Ceremony

The Pinning Ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of incoming students into the Graduate School community. New students are presented with official Howard pins by Graduate School faculty and staff. For many students and alum, the pin holds the symbolic value of community and belonging. In the Spring 2021 Issue of Howard Magazine, Dana Williams-Johnson, a Ph.D. student in the Communications Culture and Media Studies program at the Graduate School remembers the first time she received a Howard pin as an incoming college freshman and recounts returning to Howard as an instructor and receiving the pin during new faculty orientation: "The orientation leader passed pins out and welcomed us all as new faculty to Howard University. I kept swirling that pin around in my palm, feeling all the things I felt back in 1996. I was a Bison. I was home.”

Student presenting research during Research Month

A Month Dedicated to Research 

Howard dedicates an entire month to research. Research Month is part of Howard’s ongoing efforts to advance the university’s research mission and celebrate its distinguished research enterprise. The month showcases the breadth and depth of research innovation and creativity being conducted by Howard's faculty, students, and research staff across all disciplines. The month’s activities range from guest speakers and workshops to a research symposium that expands multidisciplinary collaboration opportunities. The Research Symposium, held in April, brings together Howard's students, faculty, and staff to discuss their research work and findings, supporters from various federal and local agencies, and members of the higher education community.

Howard Homecoming band playing

Howard Homecoming  

Howard's Homecoming Celebration welcomes students, alumni, staff, and friends to its campus for several key Homecoming events including the Homecoming football game and Bison Pep Rally, the Fashion Show, Greek Life Step Show, Homecoming Day of Service, Yard Fest, and the Lavender Reception. It is a celebration of fellowship that brings together alumni and current students to celebrate community at Howard. Talk to any Howard alum and they'll tell you about the surreal experience of arriving at Howard’s campus and seeing the University’s marching band, its legendary brassy renditions of the latest musical hits and choreography, and the iconic Yard Fest which draws large crowds from across the country or about being stunned by an enveloping sense of community and many examples of Black excellence all around them.