Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

Scotty with mask and vaccination bandaid
June 13, 2020

Information Regarding the 2020 Fall Semester at CMU

Dear Carnegie Mellon University students and families,

As we approach a fall semester that will be unlike any time we have experienced before, we are committed to supporting you in every way possible as you pursue your world-class education at Carnegie Mellon. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide more detailed information about the upcoming fall semester.

CMU will begin its fall semester as planned on August 31. We will provide you with a CMU-quality experience in your program this fall wherever you are physically located, and if you begin your studies remotely, we look forward to welcoming you to campus when you are able to arrive. If you are considering whether to start the fall semester remotely, and would like to discuss this option, please use the contact information below to obtain support.

Orientation is an important time for you to connect with your new CMU community, build relationships across campus and learn more about the university.

  • First-Year Undergraduate Student Orientation will take place during the week of August 23-30. This dynamic and engaging program will introduce you to the expectations, culture and traditions of Carnegie Mellon University. Orientation will be fully accessible online and will include some in-person opportunities for those students who are able to come to campus. More details about the full schedule for first-year orientation will be released later this summer.
  • Incoming graduate students will receive information about graduate student orientation from their college or department in the coming weeks.

CMU is investing in its remote learning infrastructure and in a hybrid model, blending in-person and remote learning. This approach will deliver academic excellence while minimizing any potential disruption to your education should remote instruction be required due to another wave of COVID-19 this fall.

In as many cases as possible, courses that are offered with in-person instruction will also be offered remotely. Over the summer, staff from CMU’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation are working with faculty to design, update and improve courses to provide students with the best possible educational experience, building on what we learned from successfully transitioning our 2,400 classes to remote instruction for the spring semester and relying on CMU’s long-tested learning science principles. In addition, we are upgrading classrooms this summer with technology needed to best support remote learning.

The determination for whether courses or engagement opportunities will be offered in-person will be based on safety protocols, guidance from department heads, classroom space and the number of enrolled students. You will receive detailed instructions from your academic program regarding scheduling your courses in the next several weeks.

Graduate students attending professional programs and those who are engaged in our research enterprise are vitally important members of our community. We are working closely with your schools, programs and faculty to ensure an excellent CMU experience. Return-to-research plans are well underway and will ensure all lab participants are aware of and able to meet the safety measures CMU is requiring for resumption of on-site activities.

After Thanksgiving, all courses will be taught as remote-only; however, research efforts will continue. We have made this decision to protect the community from the inherent risk of travel to and from campus between Thanksgiving and winter break. The residence halls will remain open to those students living on campus who elect to stay during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

We plan to deliver an outstanding residential experience, with health and safety as our priority. For those planning to live on campus, we know that you are eager for details on your campus housing and dining options. Our residential housing leadership team is partnering with health officials and other experts to determine our plans for the upcoming academic year, and you can expect to receive an update on these topics as soon as our plans are finalized.

All students, whether physically on campus or remote, will have access to a wealth of student services, including career and professional development opportunities, access to our Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion and resources within the Student Academic Success Center, The HUB student service center and Disability Resources. We also are offering newly expanded services to support your physical, emotional and mental health.

We are committed to providing a safe environment on our campus. Our work to address your safety on campus includes: increasing breaks between classes to 30 minutes to ensure students are able to move between classes with enough time to adhere to physical distancing requirements; instructional and directional signage; modifying spaces to support physical distancing; enhancing sanitation practices; developing testing and contact tracing protocols with our accredited University Health Services clinical staff; and distributing facial coverings, as needed. We will provide you with more details about our mitigation strategies as they are confirmed.

As we learn more, we will update you on our plans for the fall semester over the summer. In addition, our COVID-19 site is continually updated as we are closely tracking the situation and incorporating new information.

We thank you for entrusting us with your college education, and are very much looking forward to welcoming you to CMU in the fall. Although these times are unpredictable, your contributions, collaboration, mentorship and research have made Carnegie Mellon University what it is today. We are excited by the promise of the bold new directions you will take this coming year.


Jim Garrett, Provost
Gina Casalegno, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students