Commencement in Boston, By the Numbers

Before our city’s grads flip the tassels, we crunch the numbers.

graduation cap

Photograph by Toan Trinh

Hearing strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” in the air? Graduation season is upon us, and even if you’re not personally donning a cap and gown this May, chances are you know someone who is—after all, the Boston area is home to some 250,000 college students. As we prepare to receive the droves of proud parents—as well as such celebrity headliners as Cambridge native Matt Damon, MIT’s 2016 speaker—we take a closer look at commencement day in Boston.


Number of chairs rented for Harvard University’s 2016 commencement


Number of higher-education institutions in Massachusetts.

Highest-Paid Massachusetts Commencement Speakers in 2015

LeVar Burton, UMass Lowell: $35,000
Brandon Stanton, Westfield State University: $30,000
Neil deGrasse Tyson, UMass Amherst: $25,000

National Student-Loan Debt:

$1.3 trillion

and rising at a rate of


per second

Average Amount of Debt per Borrower

In 1995: $11,491
In 2015: $35,000
For a Harvard graduate in 2014: $15,117


Percentage of college graduates who reported having a job related to their college major in 2010


Retention rate of recent college graduates in Greater Boston in 2013

A Visitors’ Guide to Six Boston-Area Schools

Berklee College of Music

Neighborhood: Back Bay
Established: 1945
Undergraduates: 4,490
Commencement: May 7
Hotel: Loews Boston Hotel

➼ 0.8 miles from Berklee
➼ $449 a night for one bed/one room on May 6

Boston College

Neighborhood: Brighton/Chestnut Hill
Established: 1863
Undergraduates: 9,100
Commencement: May 23
Hotel: Holiday Inn, Brookline

➼ 3 miles from BC
➼ $249 a night for one bed/one room on May 22

Boston University

Neighborhood: Fenway/Kenmore
Established: 1839
Undergraduates: 15,906
Commencement: May 15
Hotel: Hotel Commonwealth

➼ 0.2 miles from BU
➼ $559 a night for one bed/one room on May 14

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Neighborhood: Kendall Square
Established: 1861
Undergraduates: 4,527
Commencement: June 3
Hotel: Hyatt Regency Cambridge

➼ 0.1 miles from MIT
➼ $589 a night for one bed/one room on June 2

Emerson College

Neighborhood: Downtown Boston
Established: 1880
Undergraduates: 3,757
Commencement: May 8
Hotel: Omni Parker House

➼ 0.5 miles from Emerson
➼ $369 a night for one bed/one room on May 7

Brandeis University

Town: Waltham
Established: 1948
Undergraduates: 3,610
Commencement: May 22
Hotel: Best Western, Waltham

➼ 3.2 miles from Brandeis
➼ $339 a night for one bed/one room on May 21