Carnegie Mellon University
March 26, 2021

Information About Commencement 2021

Dear Members of the CMU Community, 

I am pleased to announce several important developments surrounding Commencement, a unique milestone in the lives of our students and their families, and a treasured CMU tradition. 

As part of our plan to celebrate the Class of 2021, we will now offer two options for in-person Commencement exercises: 

  1. CMU will offer in-person Commencement exercises for the graduating students in the Class of 2021 on the Pittsburgh campus this May. With increasing evidence that transmission of the COVID-19 virus is significantly lower in outdoor settings, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been expanding the scope of permitted outdoor gatherings. With these changes, we are now able to update our policies to expand in-person activities outdoors, including our university-wide commencement program. 
  1. In addition to this year’s program, there will be a formal in-person Commencement ceremony for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 to be held in May 2022. This event will also include a special doctoral hooding ceremony for the doctoral candidates of both classes. 

Planning Information for May 2021 Commencement 

While we will share more information in the coming days, the following details will help inform the planning of our graduates and their families as we approach the May 2021 events:

  • There will be two live ceremonies – one on Saturday, May 22, for doctoral and master’s degree candidates, and one on Sunday, May 23, for bachelor’s degree candidates. The ceremonies will be held on the field of Gesling Stadium. The exact times of the ceremonies will be announced soon.
  • These ceremonies will be open only to the graduates, and to those faculty and staff with assigned roles at them. While we would like to invite the extended Tartan family to participate in person, we are strong in our conviction that an event of that size poses too great a risk to our community and guests. Families and friends of the graduates, as well as members of our community, will be able to watch the ceremonies through livestreamed video.
  • All college and department diploma ceremonies will be conducted virtually and the doctoral hooding ceremony will be postponed until May 2022. All Pittsburgh graduates’ diplomas will be mailed following Commencement.
  • CMU’s other campuses and locations will make decisions about programs based on local conditions and restrictions.

Please visit the Commencement website at for more information and future updates. 

Early Planning Information for May 2022 Commencement (for Classes of 2020 and 2021) 

Even though we are able to offer an in-person ceremony for the Class of 2021, we recognize that some members of the graduating class, as well as their families, will not be able to attend. We are also mindful of the commitment we made to the Class of 2020 last year to provide the opportunity to participate in a formal Commencement ceremony. 

Therefore, as announced earlier in this email, we will be inviting the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 to join us for a special Commencement ceremony that will be held over Commencement Weekend in 2022 (currently scheduled for May 14-15, 2022). We will also hold a special doctoral hooding ceremony for the doctoral candidates of both classes that weekend as well. We will be in touch with both classes during the Fall 2021 semester with details. 

We thank you for your patience and understanding as we have evaluated options for Commencement 2021. As I have communicated previously, we do not make any of these decisions lightly. Our primary concern will always be the health and safety of our community, and our decisions will continue to be shaped by the guidance of our COVID experts. 

It is our hope that, by gathering the graduates of the Class of 2021 to celebrate Commencement, we will help our community resume a semblance of normalcy at this unusual time. We look forward to the Fall semester, and once again welcoming students, alumni and community members to campus. 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