Commencement is the university’s most honored and important ceremony. Celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates safely in the midst of an ongoing pandemic remains a priority for the institution. Graduates can expect additional information from colleges, schools and the university as updates become available.
Q: Is there a chance Commencement will be cancelled and "go virtual" like last year?
A: All plans for Commencement are being guided by the COVID Investigating Committee and based on current public health guidelines, have been developed to celebrate the class of 2021 safely and responsibly. While Commencement plans for May 2021 are within the current health guidelines, they will be evaluated monthly by the COVID Investigating Committee and are subject to change based on changing conditions.
Q: When can students expect to know if graduation is still going to happen? I know the interim executive vice president and provost Daniel Jaffe said there were three dates when the plans would be adjusted, so which one of those will tell students if the graduation is still going to take place?
A: Plans are moving forward to host Commencement in accordance with current safety guidelines. The dates were chosen to provide checkpoints for making sure the plans can continue, or as needed, be adapted based on changing circumstances and safety guidelines. Keeping students and the community informed by setting these checkpoints for both classes is an important part of the plan.
Q: Why is the University-Wide Commencement ceremony being held in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium instead of the Main Mall?
A. The space on the Main Mall and in front of the Tower is not large enough to accommodate Commencement and provide for required social distancing. Given current safety restrictions, the Tower location cannot be used. The structure and capacity of the stadium will allow an in-person celebration to be scheduled this year with hopes that it can take place safely rather than having to be cancelled.
Q: Is there a certain threshold UT will be looking at to determine whether to hold the commencement ceremony? Such as Travis County being in stage 2 or any other of the stages.
A: As with all decisions that UT has made during the pandemic, we will take into account a number of factors including the overall state of the pandemic on campus, in Austin, and around the state as well as the specific Austin-Travis County risk stage. The university wants to be a responsible neighbor and does not want to host any events (including commencement) that we believe would have a significant negative impact on conditions in our community.
Q: If it's not expected to be safe for the class of 2020 in May, then why is there a celebration for the class of 2021 planned for May?
A: The 2021 Commencement dates are set by the academic calendar and it is assumed that the majority of the 2021 graduates are already on campus, participating in Protecting Texas Together. Commencement is a natural part of planning for the semester and the university is hopeful it can recognize the 2021 graduates within the setting of a normal academic calendar. Keep in mind that while these plans are moving forward they are contingent upon the status of the pandemic remaining the same or improving. Holding the 2020 ceremony in September will allow for more people to be vaccinated and the pandemic conditions to improve.
Q: Who is included in the May 2021 ceremony in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium?
A. The annual University-wide Commencement ceremony is held each May for students completing their degrees within the academic year (September – August).
Graduates who completed their degrees in December 2020, along with students who plan to graduate this coming August, may attend the 2021 University-wide Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 22 or the Reunion Commencement on September 17, 2021.
Q: Are the individual colleges having graduation ceremonies too, or will it just be one big ceremony? And will they walk the stage?
A: Traditional college and school ceremonies will not be held in May due to the current limitations of venue capacities.
All colleges and schools will host individual moments of recognition for their 2021 graduates in which participating graduates will have their names called and “cross the stage” either virtually or in person. Graduate recognition moments will be scheduled for every degree candidate and spread out over multiple days to avoid large gatherings in one location. The graduate recognition moments will be streamed live to allow extended family to witness the occasion without gathering on campus.
December 2020 graduates and potential August 2021 degree candidates may also be eligible to participate in the Graduate Recognition Moments hosted by colleges and schools on May 20, 21 and 22. The colleges and schools will provide information to eligible participants as appropriate. Please contact your college/school representative for additional information and details.
The only ceremony for the class of 2021 will be the university-wide Commencement in the stadium.
Q: Will everyone need a ticket for Commencement, including Graduates?
A. To facilitate Commencement safely in DKR Stadium, both graduates and their guests will be required to have a ticket with an assigned seat.
Q: How many tickets will each graduate receive for guests?
A: Each graduate will receive, at a minumum, two guest tickets. The specific number will be based on safety guidelines and the number of participating graduates. The number of tickets for each graduate and the process for acquiring them will be shared in early May once all graduates have indicated if they plan to attend the ceremony.
Q: How and when can I get tickets?
A: More information about ticket distribution will be shared later this spring.
Q: Do I need to wear a cap and gown? If so, where can I buy them?
A: A cap and gown, commonly referred to as "academic regalia," are traditionally worn during Commencement and may be purchased through the University Co-op. The Co-op also offers announcements and other graduation items.
Class of 2020
Q: Why was the decision made to hold commencement for the Class of 2020 in September and not earlier in the year?
A: The Campus Open Status remains at Level Three – Ultralow Density and operations are not expected to change before the end of the spring semester. Inviting 2020 graduates and their families, from around the world, back to the campus for a mass gathering is counter to the safety goal of minimizing density on campus. As more people become vaccinated in the coming months, the hope is that conditions will allow the university to host a safe celebration for the Class of 2020 in September.
Q: Who is included in the September Reunion Commencement?
A: Students who completed their degrees in December of 2019, May of 2020 and August of 2020 will be invited to attend the Reunion Commencement in September. Students who completed their degree in December 2020 may choose to attend this event rather than the May ceremony.