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Updated information about the coming months: Commencement, Summer and Fall 2021

March 30, 2021

A Message from Dean Cooley

Copied to: DGSs, Chairs, Registrars
In this message: GSAS Commencement planning

Dear graduate students,

One year since the pandemic changed nearly everything in our lives, we are at last able to look to the future with some optimism. If public health conditions improve in the State of Connecticut, the fall semester may resemble those of previous years. By now you will have seen the message about Fall 2021 sent by President Salovey and Provost Strobel with guidance for the Yale community. Here are some highlights pertaining specifically to graduate students, as well as updates on Commencement:


An outdoor ceremony for graduate students will take place on Old Campus on Sunday, May 23 at 10:00 a.m., pending public health guidance. Caps and gowns are optional, but if you wish to wear them for the event the form for you to order them is now open. Orders must be made by April 13. Caps and gowns will be available for pick-up on campus in May. You may also have them shipped to an address. If you are a December 2020 or May 2021 graduate please fill out this short webform, even if you do not plan to attend the ceremony.

While we cannot welcome guests to campus for the celebration, we expect non-resident graduating students may be able to join us by observing quarantine and testing requirements. I will have more details for you soon.

Travel and Visitors

At least until the start of the summer, visitors will continue to be restricted from coming to campus. Summer travel will also be limited and will need to conform to CDC guidance. There will be more guidance on visitor and travel policies in the next few weeks. Until then, please check the University travel web page frequently for updates.


Teaching this summer will continue in the residential remote mode that has been in place for the past year. However, if public health conditions improve, we hope for a gradual increase in in-person opportunities for those in New Haven this summer. Students enrolled in the summer session, student employees, and undergraduates conducting research on campus will have to participate in an ongoing testing and contact tracing program. If you will be on campus this summer, you will also be required to sign the Community Compact.


The Fall 2021 semester will begin on September 1. Graduate students will continue to have access to the campus, and the teaching mode will be primarily in person. Teaching fellows must be available to teach in person. It is possible that there will be a brief period of remote instruction at the beginning of the fall semester to accommodate quarantine for arriving students and depending on public health conditions, state guidelines, and University policy as always.

If all goes well, campus facilities including museums, dining halls, performance venues, and athletic and recreational spaces will be open for students with enhanced safety measures in place. Decisions about student gatherings such as performances and meetings of student organizations will be made based on the prevailing public health guidance, state guidelines, and university policy.

International students

We are committed to ensuring that you can join us here in New Haven for Fall 2021. Please continue to work with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) to ascertain that you have all documents you need for visa appointments and travel to the U.S. Dean di Bonaventura will work with students who face travel delays or other issues.

Right now

We are at a critical moment in the pandemic when we can almost envision being past these difficult months, or just as easily succumb to another wave of resurgence and restrictions. While the sunshine and warm weather may tempt us to ease up on masks and social distancing, please don’t give in. We are so close. If you are offered a vaccination, please accept it without hesitation.

With wishes for your good health,
Lynn Cooley 

Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
C.N.H. Long Professor of Genetics
Professor of Cell Biology and of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology