Category: Messages to the Community

Title: Plans for Graduate Students for the Fall 2020 Semester at Georgetown

Dear Georgetown Graduate Students, 

We welcome you to the continuation of your Georgetown education for the Fall 2020 semester. Please find information below which may be helpful for planning purposes. We will have further updates in coming weeks and pledge to keep you informed as developments become available. 

As President DeGioia outlined in his June 9 letter to the Georgetown University community, as we approach the Fall, our planning is focused on how we can provide for the safe return of the members of our community and how we can work to sustain their safety over the course of their time at Georgetown given the risks posed by COVID-19.

Thank you to our returning graduate students who, this spring, adjusted to new ways of completing coursework and assisting in/conducting research. Your feedback on the Spring semester has helped to inform our planning for Fall 2020.

We want to assure you that the health and safety of our entire community are at the forefront of our decision-making. As we resume academic activities, we will institute new policies and procedures to protect the safety of our campus community, following the best advice of our health experts and adhering closely to the evolving public health policies imposed by the District of Columbia and federal governments.  

We are planning to welcome graduate students for the Fall, while creating opportunities for on-line instruction for any graduate students who are unable to return to campus. The nature of delivery will vary by course and program. Our plans will continue to evolve based upon current and changing public health guidelines and requirements, and changes in the course of the pandemic. At this point, we anticipate the following attributes of the Fall semester, pending approval from the District of Columbia:

  • Faculty are preparing to deliver instruction in a variety of modes. Most graduate classes will have a hybrid format, which would allow students to participate both in-person in campus classrooms and on-line. This will provide the full schedule of curricular offerings to students who can return to campus in the Fall as well as those whose return might be delayed due to health, travel or other restrictions. The hybrid approach would also allow for a transition between in-person and on-line instruction during the semester if the public health situation shifts or if required by individual circumstances. Faculty are structuring their graduate classes so that students will meet the same curricular goals whether online or in-person. Note that certain courses may require in-person participation some of the time, due to the pedagogical nature of that class or course. More information about such courses will be provided by your individual programs.
  • Whether you participate in-person or online, our programs are committed to providing a comprehensive educational experience making the most of Georgetown’s strengths. Our commitments to fostering inclusion and community will continue to be our guideposts.
  • Some faculty will need to teach remotely, but they will continue to engage students inside and outside of classes through office hours, mentorship and extracurricular activities.
  • The entire campus environment will be structured with health and safety as our first priority, in accordance with recommendations from the University’s public health working group and the requirements of the District and the federal government. This will likely entail fewer students in classrooms to enable proper social distancing, longer or staggered times between classes to reduce the density of traffic on campus, and additional public health measures, such as required use of face coverings, monitoring of health symptoms, enhanced sanitation and cleaning, and contact tracing. Your strict adherence to these guidelines will be critical to ensure the safety of the entire community.
  • Faculty committees are reviewing grading policies, return to research policies, and other administrative adjustments needed in this unusual time, based in the Jesuit tradition of teaching and learning together. 

We will have further updates in coming weeks and pledge to keep you informed as developments become available. Further information will also be provided by your individual schools or programs. We must emphasize that these plans are subject to change in light of developments in the progress of the pandemic and guidelines from local and federal authorities.

You have our very best wishes for a safe, healthy and productive summer, and we look forward to seeing you soon.


Paul Almeida, Dean of the McDonough School of Business
Maria Cancian, Dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy
Chris Celenza, Dean of the Georgetown College
Carole Roan Gresenz, Interim Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies
Joel Hellman, Dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service
Anna Riegel, Senior Associate Dean, Biomedical Graduate Education
Alex Sens, Interim Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences