Category: Messages to the Community

Title: Planning for Spring 2021 Semester for Graduate Students

Dear Georgetown Graduate Students, 

We all share the goal of returning to the traditional Georgetown educational design— close, interpersonal, in-person education supported by our faculty and staff. We all want this pandemic’s effect on our education mission to end.

Consistent with President DeGioia’s message to you recently, I am delighted to announce that we plan to resume some on-campus activities for graduate students in Spring 2021. As we pledged in Summer 2020, those graduate students who wish to complete the entire academic year in remote learning status can continue to do so. Further, it is important to note that only a subset of the graduate courses will be offered in-person components. You can check the designation of the course during registration to learn whether some in-person component is being considered for the course. Finally, it is important to note that this plan is dependent on the course of the pandemic and may be altered under changed circumstances. 

Academic Calendar 

For the vast majority of our programs, the first class meeting is later than usual, on January 25, 2021. This gives us all a slightly longer break between semesters and hopefully avoids some of the risk of rising COVID-19 counts. The academic calendar also includes a combined Spring and Easter Break from March 29 through April 4, 2021. A few graduate programs may have different calendars but most will follow the University’s updated academic calendar. We acknowledge that this will require some adjustment of class schedules. You will soon hear from your Dean with further details.


We will continue the same tuition reductions in place for Fall 2020 (10% for undergraduates and 5% for graduate students) with the exception of Class of 2021 undergraduate students who choose to have physical access to on-campus facilities, subject to density and other public health requirements. We will provide more information to members of the class of 2021 who decide not to have physical access to campus facilities.


Classrooms have been upgraded technologically, with camera and audio support for Zoom and microphones for instructors. Classrooms will be cleaned between each usage. Classrooms feature physically distanced seating. Ample hand sanitizer is available in all buildings. Instructors planning in-person classes will be supported by CETS in a technology check and rehearsal of the use of the equipment.

Study Spaces

We have heard from our students and understand that study spaces are very important. We plan to make available a number of new study spaces for Spring that include physical distancing, accessed through a new space reservation system similar to the Library’s space reservation system. We will be in touch as the semester approaches with further details. 

Health Protocols for Those on Campus 

All faculty, staff and students coming to campus or residing on campus must meet all testing protocols, quarantine and public health requirements set forth and accessible through our website. This may include quarantining prior to coming to campus.

Once cleared to return to campus, those on campus two or more days in a week will have viral tests twice a week; those on campus only one day a week will have a single viral test per week. You can find additional information on Health and Safety on the COVID-19 website and in the frequently asked questions which are updated regularly.

Travel Policy

Due to the continuing impact of the pandemic on global travel, we have decided to continue the moratorium until further notice on University-related international travel for all students, faculty, and staff. There will be very limited exemptions that must be approved by the appropriate campus EVP or the COO (for staff). This decision was made after careful consideration and in the interest of the health and safety of our community.

WeWork Access

We are working to provide students with access to WeWork facilities globally. We are assessing the needs of our community members regarding this resource and will develop a pathway for those whose current environment is challenging. WeWork provides office space for individuals in 800 locations in 32 US cities and in 88 cities around the world. We hope this resource will be helpful in supporting our virtual learning environment.

Student Well-Being 

We are committed to providing support and resources to our students during this challenging time. Most services are being offered virtually, and a description of health and wellness resources can be found on the Mental Health, Wellness and Health Care Resources page. There are many opportunities for engagement in student organizations, activities, and recreation, and these offerings are outlined on the virtual engagement website.

In addition, our Office of Campus Ministry has adapted much of its programming to our virtual environment, and more information for students of all faith traditions can be found on the Campus Ministry website.

You can find additional information on the COVID-19 Resource Center website and in the frequently asked questions, which are updated regularly. If you have additional questions, please call the University’s COVID-19 Helpline at 202-784-3510 (available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday to Friday) or email to be connected to the appropriate University representative to answer your question.

We thank you for your commitment to your studies, to your academic endeavors and to the University. We must continue to prioritize public health needs in our decision-making and to work to protect the health and safety of our community.

While we may have faced certain disappointments this year because of the public health crisis, we are also presented with many new opportunities to engage with each other. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the University in the Spring in the many enriching and diverse ways we define our community— virtually and in-person.


Robert M. Groves