DC region universities plan mix of virtual, in-person graduation ceremonies

After a tumultuous year, several of the D.C. region’s major colleges will hold graduation ceremonies this month somewhat resembling the pre-pandemic norm.

Below is a list of universities yet to hold their ceremonies as of May 19 — others, including George Mason University, George Washington University and Howard University, already held theirs earlier in the month.

University of Maryland

The University of Maryland will host an in-person commencement ceremony for students who will graduate in 2021, and those who graduated in 2020 but did not have an in-person ceremony due to the pandemic, the school’s president announced Wednesday.

University of Maryland President Darryll Pines said the school had worked with Prince George’s County to develop a graduation ceremony that follows local health and safety guidelines.

The commencement ceremony will be held Friday, May 21, at Maryland Stadium. A livestream will also be offered for those unable to attend.

There will be two in-person ceremonies, and graduates and their guests will be assigned to one of them based on their school or college, according to Pines. Graduates may have two guests.

This year’s commencement speaker will be president and CEO of quantum computing company IonQ, Peter Chapman, who is a graduate of the University of Maryland.

The student commencement speaker will be class of 2021 graduate Hannah Rhee. Pines also will give a speech.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University announced that they will hold an in-person commencement ceremony at Nationals Park on May 24.

There will be two ceremonies: One in the morning for undergraduate students, and one in the afternoon for graduate and professional students.

The events will also be livestreamed for those who cannot be in attendance.

University President John J. DeGioia said more specific details on timing, seating, registration and more would be coming soon. Those who would like more information can see Georgetown’s commencement page on their website.

DeGioia said contingency plans are also being made in case the commencement needs to be postponed or cancelled for public health reasons.

Correction: An earlier version of this story featured information that was outdated. The correct information for Georgetown University’s graduation plans has been added.

American University

American University in Northwest D.C. held a virtual spring commencement on  Saturday, May 8. The Washington College of Law will hold a separate, virtual graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 23.

“Our graduates have worked so hard and achieved so much, and now they can have this special moment that is so well-deserved,” President Sylvia Burwell said in a statement.

Hood College

Frederick, Maryland’s Hood College will hold three commencement ceremonies at Thomas Athletic Field on Saturday, May 22. Class of 2020 undergraduates and graduate students will be honored together at 9 a.m. followed by 2021 undergraduates at 1 p.m. and 2021 graduates at 5 p.m.

Former vice president for student life and dean of students Olivia G. White will deliver the 2020 commencement address, while the Reverend Margaret “Peggy” Muncie will be the speaker for the class of 2021.

Commencement celebrations kick off this Friday at 7 p.m. with an in-person baccalaureate service at Thomas Athletic Field, limited to graduating students only.


More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.


WTOP’s Rick Massimo and Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up