Harvard's Class of 2021
Frequently Asked Questions

To go to the main Commencement page, please click here.

FAQ 2021

Has a formal announcement regarding Commencement for the Class of 2021 been made?

Yes, an announcement was made on Friday, February 26th and can be found by visiting the President's page. 

Should my family make travel plans to Cambridge for graduation in May 2021?

We are grateful for your patience during this difficult time as we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our community. Since this year’s program will be hosted virtually, the Commencement Office does not recommend making any travel plans at all related to graduation.

For the virtually-hosted graduation program, will regalia be available to order?

Yes. The Commencement Office, in collaboration with the Harvard Coop and student affairs departments, will make regalia available to all degree candidates who are interested. Ordering will be available starting in early March. In addition to the traditional, custom regalia for purchase, we are proudly introducing a special, keepsake gown this year made with the environment in mind from 100% post-consumer, recycled materials in the USA. Details to order regalia are here.

Is regalia mandatory this year?

No, regalia is optional for those interested in taking photographs, or celebrating, safely, with those in their households.

How will students receive diplomas this academic year?

All diplomas are currently being mailed directly to degree recipients. Please contact your Registrar's Office for more information or updates, and please make sure that the address where your diploma will be mailed is up to date.

Will certified electronic diplomas be available for graduates in May 2021?

Yes, in most cases certified electronic diplomas will be available. Please contact your Registrar’s Office in the spring if you are interested in learning more about this option.

Since a graduation program will be held virtually, can graduates indicate that they are members of the Class of 2021?

Yes, as long as graduates have completed the degree requirements expected for each program and have been recommended by their department. Please contact your Registrar’s Office if you have questions.

Will the student speech competition for graduation in 2021 (a.k.a. the Orations competition) occur?

Yes, Harvard will host the student speech competition this year. Details regarding that competition can be found here, including key dates. We encourage any interested degree candidates to attend the workshop on March 4. Please sign up here.

When will 2021 Harvard and Radcliffe College Reunions take place this year?

In consultation with University leadership and Harvard University Health Services, Harvard and Radcliffe College reunions, the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association, and Crimson Society events will be held in a virtual-only format this year. No in-person gatherings will be planned.

For more information on Harvard and Radcliffe College Reunions, please visit the websites for College Reunions, Virtual Reunion Programs, and Class Programming.

Will the Class of 2021 have the chance to celebrate in person when safe to do so?

Yes, the Class of 2021, as well as the Class of 2020, will have the opportunity to celebrate in person, on campus in the future. Details are not available at this time, but once more information is available, the Commencement website will be updated.   

Can College seniors graduating in May 2021 choose to “walk” in the Commencement ceremony for Class of 2022?

Seniors graduating in May 2021 will not be able to choose to participate in the Class of 2022 Commencement instead of the one that will be held in their honor when safe and reasonable conditions allow.

Since the program this May 27, 2021 is principally to acknowledge the conferral of the degrees, and the in-person Commencement celebration has been postponed, students from the Class of 2021 are expected to participate in the deferred 2021 Commencement celebration (date TBD), with their appropriate social class.

In addition to those completing their degree May 2022, the only students who will have the choice of participating in the Class of 2022 Commencement will be those graduating in November 2021 or March 2022. Those midyear graduating students will need to decide between either 1) taking part in the virtual celebrations in May 2021 as well as the postponed in-person celebration or 2) participating in the Class of 2022 Commencement.

Can members of the social class of 2021 who are currently on leave participate in the conferral of the degrees in May 2021?

Students on leave are expected to follow the expectations laid out in the Handbook for Students: “Students on leave or required to withdraw may not participate in extracurricular activities. Exceptions to this rule must be specifically approved in advance by the Administrative Board.” If a student on leave has questions about their status, they should speak with their Resident Dean.

If a student chooses to participate in the May 2021 degree conferral, they must also participate in the deferred 2021 Commencement celebration (date TBD), with their chosen social class.

Should I travel to Cambridge if any in-person gatherings are approved later in the season if I am not learning on campus?


In accordance with state and local health and safety regulations, the Commencement Office does not recommend any travel to campus. The virtual graduation program will be inclusive to all students, no matter their location.

If you are a member of the class of 2021 and would like to share your idea how we, collectively, might best honor your class, please visit here.

Harvard University is closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. For more information about University-wide resources and updates, please visit the Harvard University Coronavirus (COVID-19) website.