The following area colleges and universities will hold spring commencement ceremonies this week:

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY, 620 Michigan Ave. NE -- Commencement ceremonies for more than 1,700 graduates in eight schools will be held May 17, 10 a.m. on the east steps of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 4th Street and Michigan Avenue NE. In case of rain, the ceremony will be in the upper church of the shrine. The speaker is the Rev. Msgr. George G. Higgins, secretary for special concerns for the U.S. Catholic Conference. He will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

The following will also receive honorary degrees: Virginia Henderson, professor emeritus, Yale University School of Nursing; the Rev. Robert P. Hupp, executive director of Boys Town, Neb.; John T. Noonan Jr., professor of law, University of California, Berkeley; Josephine Raskob Robinson, trustee for the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Charities; and William K. Warren, president of the William K. Warren Medical Research Center, Tulsa.

The Law School ceremony will be held May 17, 1:30 p.m., east steps of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The speaker is Edward Bennett Williams, senior partner with the Washington law firm of Williams and Connolly.

GALLAUDET COLLEGE, 7th Street and Florida Avenue NE -- Commencement will be held for 270 graduates on May 19, 10:30 a.m., Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 4th Street and Michigan Avenue NE. Visitors should use the front entrance of the Shrine.

The speaker is Eleanor Holmes Norton, chairman of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Honorary degrees will be conferred upon Thomas Sprabley, author of "Deaf Like Me" and Edna Adler, consultant for the deaf and the hard of hearing.

GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY -- National Law Center commencement ceremonies for 409 graduates will be held May 18, 1:30 p.m., Smith Center, 600 22nd St. NW. The speaker is Sam Brown, director of ACTION. Former Federal Trade Commissioner Edward F. Howrey, a law alumnus, will receive an honorary degree.

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, 37th and O streets NW -- Dental School commencement for 138 graduates will be held May 18, Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 3 p.m. Mass will be held May 17, 5:30 p.m., Dahlgren Chapel. The speaker is John M. Coady, executive director of the American Dental Association. He will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. The following will also receive honorary degrees: Robert B. Lytle, chairman and professor of prosthodontics at Georgetown; Marie U. Nylen, lecturer in the department of anatomy of the Georgetown University School of Medicine and Dentistry; Israel Shulman, a 1936 graduate of Georgetown's School of Dentistry; and Emil Sloan, a 1925 graduate of the school and clinical professor of operative dentistry at Georgetown.

UIVERSITY OF MARYLAND -- Commencement ceremonies for 1,927 graduates from the main campus will be held May 16, 10 a.m., Cole Student Activities Building, College Park. The speaker is Katharine Graham, chairman of the board the Washington Post Co. Graham will receive a honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Other honorary degrees will be conferred upon Frank Press, director of the executive office of science and technology; Clifford Still, artist, and Rosa Ponselle, a singer with the Baltimore Metropolitan Opera.

University College division of Continuing Education commencement exercises will be held May 17, 2:30 p.m., Center of Adult Education, University and Adelphi roads. The speaker is Richard Weigle, president of St. John's College in Annapolis. Weigle will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters. Other honorary degrees will be conferred upon Clifford Alexander, secretary of the Army, and General Dewitt Smith, commandant of the Army War College.