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Princeton plans for in-person, outdoor Commencement for Class of 2021

<h6>Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

The University plans to hold an in-person, outdoor Commencement for the Class of 2021, according to an announcement made this afternoon. 

The event, currently scheduled for May 16, is set to take place at Princeton Stadium. 


The University believes it can “host a meaningful Commencement experience for its graduating students” based on current public health guidelines, according to the announcement. Still, the institution left the door open to change those plans.

“We will continue to monitor the public health situation and state guidelines in the weeks ahead – should circumstances change significantly, we may need to pivot to a virtual Commencement ceremony,” the announcement states.

While additional details will be announced in April, the University has released some information regarding who should be able to attend the event.

Undergraduate seniors living on-campus or locally who have taken part in the University’s asymptomatic testing protocol will be invited to Commencement, though those who lose access to campus housing due to a Social Contract violation will not be permitted to attend.

Similarly, graduate students taking part in the asymptomatic testing protocol who have, or will have completed their master’s degree or Ph.D. within the 2020-21 academic year will be invited to attend.

The University also hopes to invite graduating seniors and graduate students who are studying remotely to participate in Commencement. This decision will be “informed by New Jersey’s health and travel guidelines,” according to the announcement.


The University does not yet know whether guests will be permitted to attend, and is “exploring” the issue in accordance with state regulations and public health guidelines.

“Should guests be allowed, there would be a maximum of two guests per student,” the announcement states. “Families are encouraged not to make non-refundable travel arrangements.”

For those who cannot attend, Commencement activities will be livestreamed.

On-campus students in the classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024 will be required to move out of their dorms within 24 hours of completing their last final exam. Final exams conclude on Friday, May 14, so at the latest, non-seniors must leave campus by May 15.

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Students in the Class of 2021 must vacate their on-campus rooms by noon on the day following Commencement — which, based on the current schedule, will be May 17.

According to the announcement, the “official conferral date of degrees” will remain May 25, 2021. Students will receive their “diplomas, certificates and official Commencement programs by mail after that date.”

Graduating masters and doctoral students will have their Graduate Hooding ceremony on Monday, May 24.

“The Graduate School will be in contact with advanced degree candidates who may be eligible to participate in the virtual Hooding,” the announcement states.

Baccalaureate, Class Day, residential college end-of-year events, and departmental or program celebrations will all be conducted virtually, as will 2021 Reunions. An in-person ROTC Commissioning Ceremony is currently being planned for graduating seniors.

“Our top priority is to gather graduating seniors who are able to attend safely for this important rite of passage,” Dean of the College Jill Dolan and Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun wrote in an email to the Class of 2021. 

“The times continue to be extraordinary and unpredictable. But University administrators and staff are working hard to preserve an experience we know is a vital milestone of your Princeton career,” Dolan and Calhoun added.

This story is breaking and will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.