It's Time to Celebrate Commencement 2021

Commencement is one of the most joyous events at Columbia Southern University, and we are committed to providing the Class of 2021 with a memorable commencement experience. Every year, we look forward to celebrating this incredible milestone with our graduates and their loved ones.

As we continue to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic, we hope to celebrate with you in person. Your safety is our top priority. We will continue monitoring the ongoing situation and will provide updates as they are available.  Please review our COVID-19 Policy before attending Commencement.

CSU graduate smiles and shakes hands as she crosses the stage during commencement

2021 Ceremony Details

Foley Event Center at OWA
Friday, Oct. 22, 2021

A total of three ceremonies are planned, the times being 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. Graduates will be evenly distributed among the ceremonies and your time will be assigned when your registration request is approved. The university will limit each ceremony to a 75% capacity.

Please contact us with any questions regarding the 2021 Commencement Ceremony.

If you have previously registered and been approved, CSU will contact you with your assigned ceremony time. 

Registration Information

The commencement registration deadline is Aug. 13, 2021, or when maximum seating capacity is reached, whichever comes first. Once registration is closed, CSU will add all additional registrants to a waitlist until further notice.

  • Students must submit a petition to graduate and receive audit results.* 
  • Students must submit a $145 ceremony fee along with the commencement registration form to participate. 
  • Students must complete all graduation requirements or have submitted their enrollment registrations for any remaining course(s) required for program completion at the time of commencement registration.
  • Students who have not completed all graduation requirements by the registration deadline are not eligible to be designated as graduating with honors.

*Students must complete the registration form in addition to submitting their petition to graduate.

Close up of a CSU graduate shaking hands and accepting diploma during commencement
Rows of CSU graduates seated during commencement


For many, earning your degree has been a longtime goal. We encourage you to invite friends and family to join you at the ceremony. Each graduate may request up to four guest tickets. To ensure an accurate head count, you must request all guest tickets on the registration form. Small children who do not require their own chair will not require a ticket. As a graduate, you do not need a ticket to participate.

Bert Thornton is wearing a black suit with a yellow patterned tie

Keynote Speaker

Bert Thornton

Bert Thornton is a Georgia Institute of Technology Graduate where he played collegiate football and joined Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. After graduation he spent 2 years in the United States Army.

Bert began his career with Waffle House in 1971 on the grill and quickly moved up the food chain to president and COO of Waffle House. Presently, he is retired Vice Chairman Emeritus. He helped grow the breakfast chain from humble beginnings into a financial and cultural powerhouse.

Today, the chain boasts more than 2,000 locations and sells more than 11 million servings of Bert's Chili each year.

He is the author of two books: Find an Old Gorilla: Pathways Through the Jungles of Business and Life- a self-mentoring handbook for the development of emerging leaders and High Impact Mentoring: A Practical Guide for Creating Value in Other People's Lives (co-authored with Dr. Sherry Hartnett), available in Fall 2021 

Commencement Speaker

Regalia Information

Graduates are required to wear regalia during the commencement ceremony. You may order your regalia through Herff Jones will ship your regalia materials directly to you prior to commencement.

Orders placed on or after Sept. 27, 2021 will incur an expedited shipping fee. Graduates must place all orders by Oct. 1, 2021 to ensure delivery by commencement. No orders will be allowed after this date.

Order Your Regalia
Regalia Package Pricing
Item Price
Associates/Bachelors Basic Package $32.70
Bachelors with Honors $39.95
Masters with Hood $59.45
Doctors with Hood $87.85

Commencement Venue, Accommodations, and More

The CSU Commencement Ceremonies are held at The Foley Event Center at OWA, located just minutes away from the CSU campus.
Please visit The Foley Event Center page for more information about Foley and the surrounding area including hotels, attractions, dining, shopping and more! 

Driving Directions from Nearby Airports

Pack Your Sandals and Sun Hats!

We are excited to celebrate our graduates at CSU Alumni Association's annual Grad Bash on Saturday, October 23rd at The Lodge at Gulf State Park. Drop in and mingle with fellow graduates anytime from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. CST.

Child in swimsuit and hat carefully lifts a plastic sandcastle mold mold to reveal a sand tower.

Bring the Family

Enjoy a backyard BBQ style lunch and activities for all ages including oversized Jenga, Connect 4, cornhole, beach volleyball, sandcastle building, music to enjoy, bingo for CSU prizes and photo areas set up around the venue and on the beach.

CSU Grad Bash 2021