Editor’s note: Information in this story was accurate as of March 18. For the latest information regarding USC’s May 2021 commencement plans, visit the university’s commencement website.
USC has received permission from state authorities to host in-person commencement celebrations in May for the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021.
Ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. To accommodate state restrictions on density and rules for cleaning after each event, ceremonies will be held twice a day from May 14-25.
“Commencement is one of the most cherished ceremonies in a student’s academic life,” USC President Carol L. Folt wrote in a letter sent to students and families on Thursday. “It’s the single time when we come together as a community to celebrate years of hard work by our graduates.”
Like most other universities, USC was prevented from offering in-person ceremonies in 2020 because of COVID-19.
USC commencement 2021 will combine universitywide traditions with the schools’
This year’s ceremonies will combine elements of USC’s traditional main graduation ceremony with those of individual schools and colleges. Each graduate will be invited to one ceremony with their specific school or degree program cohort and will have the opportunity to cross the stage, hear their names read, receive their diploma and have their photos taken while projected on the screens at the stadium. Density restrictions require graduates to have no more than two guests.
State public health guidelines currently require that access to the ceremonies — at USC and other California universities — be limited to individuals currently residing in California. Those who plan to attend should stay informed about the California Department of Public Health’s most recent travel advisory. The university is working with state officials to see if there is any avenue to allow out-of-state residents to attend the ceremonies.
As soon as the number of graduates who plan to attend is determined, the university will be able to produce a schedule with the time and date for each ceremony by school. To finalize those plans, eligible graduates need to follow the instructions on the USC commencement page and fill out the registration by April 1. Even if you cannot attend, we ask that you let us know.
Online broadcast for USC commencement 2021
For those who cannot attend the ceremony in Los Angeles, everything that is done in-person will also be broadcast online, live and on-demand for future viewing. Every school will host a virtual celebration for its graduates on May 13.
Due to distancing requirements, it will not be possible to hood doctoral candidates. Hooding ceremonies will take place at a future time when restrictions are lifted.
Folt noted that there are still many questions to be answered, with additional details to be communicated via the university’s commencement page.
“Please know that we are doing everything possible to produce an experience that balances both the challenges brought on by the pandemic,” she said, “as well as the achievements of our incredible graduates, which deserve to be celebrated to the fullest extent possible.