Note: Penn State is exploring options for potential in-person May commencement ceremonies at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses for spring 2021 graduates in accordance with state and federal guidelines for gatherings. The University plans to be able to provide more information in March.


During the global pandemic, in the interest of the health and safety of our students, families and communities, Penn State has been holding virtual Commencement ceremonies that provide a timely celebration to mark the completion of the academic experience for Penn Staters. Until graduates can celebrate together safely in person, this virtual ceremony is the first step in recognizing students, their hard work, success and perseverance even in the most difficult of circumstances. Penn State has committed to an in-person and on-campus celebration at a later date as public health guidelines allow for graduates, family and friends.

Each virtual ceremony held by Penn State is made available for viewing online and includes formal remarks, conferral of degrees, and induction into the Penn State Alumni Association. Following the ceremony, graduates, friends and family members can explore additional content created for each college and campus through shareable digital slides.

Penn State's commencement website will be updated as information about future activities becomes available. Visitors also are welcome to review past commencement materials.


Yes. To celebrate the accomplishments of all graduates, we want to make it accessible to family and friends and to provide options for students and families who prefer a virtual format.

In-person options are being explored for University Park and Commonwealth Campuses. If in-person ceremonies are pursued, Commonwealth Campuses will consider hosting outdoor events on their campuses, or within their campus communities, in line with regulations for gatherings.

The College of Medicine is independently working to create commencement options that are safe. A committee has been developed to start evaluating options that will be best for our students. While safety is of utmost concern, virtual and in-person options are being evaluated and more details will be shared in the coming months.

Penn State Law and Penn State Dickinson Law host their own spring commencement ceremonies to recognize their graduates. No specific plans or announcements have been made yet regarding these ceremonies. These programs will communicate directly with their graduates regarding their plans.

The University is working through many considerations in planning for potential in-person ceremonies across our campuses, including if guests will be possible and if so, what the capacity limits may be. For example, the current Pennsylvania Department of Health regulations permit physically distanced gatherings of up to 2,500 individuals outdoors, thus if we can proceed, all attendance must follow these guidelines, along with other requirements necessitated by the pandemic. Plans and decision-making will be driven by the health and safety of students, their families, and campus communities, along with federal, state and local guidelines for gatherings. Penn State plans to be able to provide more information in March.

Given ongoing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all decisions and plans will be made with the health and safety of students, their families, and campus communities as the priority and in accordance with federal, state and local guidelines for gatherings. Any potential in-person ceremonies will likely take place outdoors, rain or shine, while still offering a virtual option. The format may be structured differently than previous ceremonies, be smaller in size based on gathering limitations, have strict limitations on the number of guests, and occur over a set of dates extending beyond the length of a typical single graduation weekend.

The University plans to provide more specific information in March to give students and families time to make plans. Before making a final decision, we need to progress further into the semester and then assess conditions with the pandemic. More information about spring commencement is available in this Penn State News story.

Penn State is exploring options for potential in-person spring 2021 commencement ceremonies to recognize the many accomplishments of our graduates at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses. Of course, any in-person ceremony may look very different from past ones and will depend on health and safety guidelines and the status of the COVID-19 pandemic closer to May. The University will plan for an entirely virtual ceremony as an alternative option based on public health conditions. Penn State plans to be able to provide more information in March to give students and families time to make plans.

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