Message from GW Leadership on 2021 Commencement Celebrations

After getting feedback from the GW community, the university will host in-person celebrations when it is safe to do so.

March 11, 2021

To the George Washington University Community:

Since our last Commencement update in early February, the university has engaged members of our community, particularly our graduating students and their families, in order to collect feedback and ideas and consider a range of scenarios for in-person graduation elements. We have heard loud and clear that the community’s top priority is having a university-wide Commencement ceremony on the National Mall, even if it must take place at some point in the future, at a time when it is safe to gather. When it is safe to do so, the university will host in-person celebrations on the National Mall to honor the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020, with each class enjoying its own, curated celebration.

For the timely conferral of degrees and to welcome the Class of 2021 into the worldwide network of GW alumni, GW also will host a university-wide Virtual Commencement Celebration on Sunday, May 16, 2021. The Celebration will be an exciting, engaging, “Only at GW” event that honors tradition and implements some of the great ideas we received from our graduating students, families and alumni. In addition, all schools and colleges will host a virtual celebratory experience for their graduating students. Graduating students will receive individual recognition during these ceremonies, and they will hear from school leaders and other prestigious speakers.

Outside of the virtual space, we will build excitement with our graduates through a variety of in-person elements. The Foggy Bottom campus will be branded in high-visibility areas to celebrate the Class of 2021, creating special photo opportunities for graduates. To celebrate at home, graduates of the Class of 2021 will be mailed a “celebration box” that will include GW-branded items. Other in-person and virtual elements are forthcoming.

Additional information for graduates can be found on Commencement website FAQs page, and schools and colleges will continue to be in touch with graduates as information becomes available.

This was not a decision made lightly, and we appreciate the thoughtful feedback from graduates about how to celebrate this momentous occasion within the ongoing public health constraints of the pandemic. We look forward to honoring our graduates in May virtually and to the day when we can gather in person to celebrate the Class of 2021 and 2020.  Until then, stay safe and well.


Thomas J. LeBlanc



M. Brian Blake

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs


M.L. “Cissy” Petty

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students