Commencement Safety Update

Dear Graduates,

We are sure many of you are aware that other colleges have canceled winter graduation ceremonies due to increasing COVID-19 cases in Maryland, and we know you are wondering what that means for your ceremony next week.

As of today, we are still planning to hold the commencement ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday. We are monitoring the number of COVID cases in our campus community and have reviewed the precautions we have put in place for the ceremonies with public health experts, who assure us that the safety protocols  we have in place for the ceremonies are strong and will substantially mitigate risks.

Of course, no large event is risk-free under the current public health conditions, so we want to inform you of the safety measures in place so that you and your guests can decide whether you are comfortable participating in Commencement.

Our plans include the following precautions: 

  • We have split the undergraduate ceremony into two ceremonies;
  • The largest ceremony will be limited to 1800 people in a building that seats 6000;
  • The Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena has a modern and highly rated ventilation system;  
  • Graduate and guest seating arrangements include  3-foot distancing;
  • Graduates will be seated individually and their guests will be seated in pairs;
  • We have dramatically reduced elements of the ceremony where people gather by eliminating the student procession, asking faculty and staff to participate virtually, and allowing only two guests per graduate;
  • We are requiring everyone in attendance to wear KN95 masks, which will be available at no cost for anyone who needs one.

In addition to the safety measures  we have put in place, we ask you and your guests to do your part too: If you feel sick, or have symptoms, please participate virtually from home and if you are traveling from an area with high COVID positivity rates, please get a COVID test prior to the ceremonies. 

We understand that given the new public health developments, some of you  may no longer feel comfortable attending your commencement ceremony in-person. If you purchased your regalia through the UMBC Bookstore, you can return your regalia (cap, gown, tassel and hood) by Dec. 20th for graduate students and Dec. 21st for undergraduate students. If you purchased your regalia directly from Herff Jones, please contact them regarding returns.

We will continue to monitor the public health situations both on campus and locally, and contact you via email if there are any changes to these plans.  Any changes will also be reflected on the commencement page, and we encourage you and your guests to visit that site. 

Please send any questions or concerns to

Congratulations on your achievements!

Gregory Simmons
Vice-President for Institutional Advancement