Commencement 2021 Update

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families:

With 25 days until Commencement Weekend, planning continues in earnest as we prepare to host our students and their loved ones on campus. I am grateful to students who completed our survey to indicate whether they intend to participate in this year’s Commencement exercises in person. This step was necessary to help us determine how many ceremonies will be held to comply with New York State’s published regulations for end-of-year academic celebrations. These regulations, which we are required to enforce, dictate public health measures, such as stadium capacity, vaccination, testing requirements for entry and social distancing arrangements, to name a few of the factors that we balanced during planning.

With that in mind, I write today to provide an update on the schedule of ceremonies and to remind individuals who intend to participate about the vaccination/testing requirements for entry.

Confirmed Schedule of Ceremonies

Based on the student response and in compliance with New York State regulations, Syracuse University will need to host three Commencement ceremonies. The schedule is as follows:

Commencement Ceremony No. 1
Saturday, May 22, 2021
4 p.m. ET
Participating schools/colleges: All undergraduate students in the School of Architecture; College of Arts and Sciences; Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; School of Education; University College

Commencement Ceremony No. 2
Sunday, May 23, 2021
9 a.m. ET
Participating schools/colleges: All undergraduate students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science; School of Information Studies; Whitman School of Management; Newhouse School of Public Communications; College of Visual and Performing Arts

Commencement Ceremony No. 3
Sunday, May 23, 2021
3:30 p.m. ET
Participating schools/colleges: All graduate students

Commencement Tickets

As previously communicated, each graduate who has registered their intent to participate in person will be allowed to have up to two guests attend their ceremony. Tickets will be available for selection beginning on Thursday, May 6, at 10 a.m. ET. Graduates will receive a specific email with specific instructions to claim their ticket and two guest tickets. Following ticket selection, students will receive a confirmation email, as well as a ticket with their selected seating assignment and tickets and seating assignments for their guests.

As a reminder, per the New York State graduation guidance, all guests must comply with social distancing guidelines. Students will be seated on the field level of the stadium in three-person “pods.” Guests will be seated in audience sections of the stadium in two-person “pods.” Seating pods will be arranged to maintain 6 feet of distance between groupings. Empty seat buffers will be created at aisles. As noted above, seating assignments will be issued via the ticketing process.

To allow for ease of entry, guests will be assigned a specific gate and arrival time for entry. This will allow for socially distanced entry and compliance with all entry requirements.

To our faculty and staff who plan to attend one or all of the Commencement ceremonies: please be advised we are working on a registration system for you to indicate your intent to participate and submit your proof of vaccination or testing.

School/College Convocations

All school and college convocations will be presented virtually at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, May 22, and recordings will be posted online so that graduates and their families can watch them at a later date if needed. More information about how to access the virtual convocations will be shared in the coming weeks and can be found on the Commencement website.

Pre-Event Testing/Vaccination Compliance

New York State has mandated very specific guidelines related to stadium entry and participation in the Commencement exercise, for all graduates, guests and participants. The state requires that anyone accessing the stadium for Commencement must comply with one of the following options:

·       Proof of completed vaccination; specifically, on the day of the event the individual must provide documentation indicating that at least 14 days have passed since the individual received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or at least 14 days have passed since the individual received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. We strongly encourage guests to seek out a vaccination as it is the most reliable pathway for entry into the stadium.

·       Proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR-type test, administered within 72 hours of the event.

·       Proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen-type test, administered within six hours of the event start time.

Please plan ahead to ensure your compliance with New York State’s venue entry requirements. All graduates and guests are responsible for complying with state regulations for entry to the stadium. Anyone who plans to attend the ceremony and who cannot provide proof of COVID vaccination should ensure they have access to testing services capable of returning a test result within the window of time required by New York State (72 hours prior to the event for a PCR-type test; six hours prior to the event for an antigen-type test).

To support a safe and efficient entry experience into the stadium, we will establish a pre-event compliance station that will open on campus beginning at noon ET on Thursday, May 20. At this station, students and guests can have their COVID-compliance documents verified in advance of the weekend’s Commencement activities, and be issued a unique pass allowing for significantly expedited access to the stadium on the day of Commencement. If your travel plans allow you to take advantage of this service, we strongly encourage you to consider pre-verification. All guests who are not pre-verified will be required to have their vaccine or testing documentation reviewed and approved on-site at the stadium.

All of us at Syracuse University are very much looking forward to celebrating our graduates’ achievements alongside their families, our faculty and our staff. We appreciate your continued patience as we implement a Commencement plan that aligns with New York State requirements.

To learn more about Commencement 2021, please visit There you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions.


Steve Bennett
Senior Vice President for International Programs and Academic Operations and Chief of Staff, Academic Affairs