Carnegie Mellon University
February 12, 2021

Information about Commencement 2021

Dear Members of the CMU Community,

With the spring semester well underway, our attention turns to this year’s Commencement exercises scheduled for May 23, 2021. 

As we consider how we will honor the Class of 2021, along with the Class of 2020, we do so against the backdrop of the pandemic, and all its continuing uncertainties and related restrictions. While we are hopeful about the vaccination program currently underway, it is clear that the pandemic will preclude us from returning to our traditional Commencement program this year.

We are writing to share what we know now about Commencement 2021 to help inform planning for our graduates and their families.

  • First, we expect that this year’s formal Commencement exercises will be conducted virtually through an online conferral of degrees program and all diplomas for graduates will be mailed.
  • Second, we remain committed to honoring both the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020 with an in-person celebration event on campus as soon as it is safe to do so. We will begin planning that celebration when we resume normal campus operations, and will consult these classes and keep you apprised as these plans develop.
  • Third, we are exploring limited opportunities for in-person engagements around Commencement 2021 for those graduating students that are in Pittsburgh. Families and guests will be included in all virtual programming; any in-person events we may be able to convene will only be able to accommodate graduating students. CMU’s other campuses and locations will make decisions about in-person engagements based on local conditions and restrictions.

Over the next several weeks, we will engage with representatives of the graduating class and the academic community as we develop plans for Commencement. We will keep you posted on our progress through future announcements and via

To all of our graduates in the Class of 2021: Please know how incredibly proud we are of you as you approach this milestone. Achieving your degree is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Your graduating class is the second to have been impacted by the pandemic, and we share your sadness for the many CMU traditions during your final semesters that have been missed. We know that the experiences you have as a student are just as important as the education you receive in the classroom. Although it will not be a traditional commencement, we will do all that we can to ensure that this year’s exercises are worthy of your accomplishments and that we will gather for an in-person event to honor your contributions as soon as we can.

We do not make decisions about Commencement lightly. Commencement is a momentous occasion in the lives of our graduates and their families, and is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. The entire CMU community looks forward to celebrating with the graduating class each year. Our primary concern continues to be the health and safety of our community, and any decisions we make will continue to be driven by the guidance of public health experts.

I’m confident that life will eventually return to normal. While we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, unfortunately, we have not yet reached normalcy. We look forward to once again having a bustling campus filled with students, alumni and community members. Until then, stay connected and healthy, support each other and take pride in being part of the CMU family. 


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair