Howard University is officially planning in-person commencement activities this year on our campus from May 5-8. The District of Columbia government has officially approved our in-person commencement plan. Both the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020 will be invited to participate. All undergraduate Commencement activities will take place outdoors, while graduate and professional Commencement sessions will be held indoors. Please see the FAQ below for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for commencement?

You must be a graduating member of the class of 2021 or a graduate of the class of 2020 to be eligible. Registration closed on Friday, April 16th at 5:00 pm. No applicants will be taken at this time.

What are the indoor and outdoor capacity limits?

The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for colleges and universities provides specific guidelines to help reduce the risk of transmission amongst students, faculty and staff. Indoor and outdoor commencement ceremonies are limited to 25% of the maximum occupancy of the space. No matter the location, all in-person ceremonies are contingent upon approval of submitted plans to the Government of D.C. through the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA).  For additional information, please visit coronavirus.dc.gov.

Which Commencement ceremonies are indoor? Which ceremonies are outdoor?

Due to capacity limitations, all undergraduate session will be held outdoors, while all graduate and professional sessions will be held indoors. Some deans have chosen to conduct ceremonies fully online and will not hold in-person events at all. The University is in the process of confirming the proposed schedule for the commencement convocations and the individual schools and colleges ceremonies. Details regarding school and college specific events (virtual and in-person) will also be available shortly on the commencement website. 

Who is allowed to attend?

Due to the COVID-19 guidelines, the University can only allow students from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 who have registered in advance to attend/participate in the ceremony. The D.C. DOH and HSMEA has established specific participant and capacity limits for any ceremony being held indoors or outdoors.  Regretfully, family, friends and guests of students will not be permitted to attend any commencement activities. However, the programs will be streamed as an alternative for all individuals who wish to view the programs.

What is the plan for inclement weather?

In case of inclement weather, the outdoor commencement sessions will be canceled. Indoor sessions will continue as planned.

On what days do the undergraduate ceremonies take place? On what days do the graduate ceremonies take place?

The University has planned for the commencement convocation and individual schools and colleges ceremonies to occur May 5-8, 2021. The website will soon be updated with additional information, indicating the specific dates and times for each scheduled event by Friday, April 22. There will be no department-specific undergraduate ceremonies.

Was our outdoor waiver approved by the city of Washington, D.C.?

Yes. However, in this pandemic environment, all plans are subject to change. If the local government decides to withdraw approval of our plans, then we will revert to a virtual commencement. Our plans are contingent on local conditions continuing to improve as evaluated by increasing vaccination rates and diminishing COVID-19 cases; if those positive developments should reverse course in a significant way, we will revert to a virtual commencement. In the event of inclement weather on the day of commencement activities should render outdoor gatherings unsafe, we will cancel those activities the morning they are scheduled to take place and modify them for a virtual platform. 

Are masks required at Commencement?

Yes, face masks are required. In addition, the University must follow the D.C. DOH requirements, which will include social distancing, adherence to capacity limitations, and other restrictions and preventive measures.

Do I have to be vaccinated to attend?

No, you do not have to be vaccinated to attend; but the vaccination is strongly encouraged as a defense against the COVID-19 virus. Please register for vaccination on the D.C. vaccination portal or your state’s vaccination portal.

When will you share the details of the schedule?

The full schedule, associated with the commencement convocation and related activities, will be published by April 23 or earlier.

Can I wait until next year’s in-person ceremonies?

Unfortunately, no. In order to do so, the University would have to hold ceremonies for three graduating classes in one year, which would not be possible.