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March 25, 2021 – Faculty: our fall 2021 academic calendar

Posted by on Thursday, March 25, 2021 in Community Messages.

Dear Vanderbilt faculty,

I am pleased to share that based on public health data and trends in vaccination rates, the university plans to offer in-person classes for the fall semester.

This marks a trajectory in the course of the pandemic that many of us have longed for through these months and months of virtual and hybrid education.

While this decision signals a step toward the life we recognize, our optimism must, by necessity, be tempered by the dynamic reality of the pandemic. As you know, our priority remains ensuring the health and safety of our students, postdocs, faculty and staff as much as possible. Current COVID-19 testing and safety protocols remain in place. Should the status of the pandemic change dramatically over the spring and summer, or public health data indicate a return to in-person instruction is not recommended, an alternative option may be required.

We are sharing this announcement with students shortly, and I anticipate you will receive questions or have questions of your own. We continue to monitor the pandemic to inform our full fall semester plans and look forward to sharing additional information in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your support, tenacity and, above all, adaptability.

Fall academic calendar

  • In-person, on-campus undergraduate classes will begin Aug. 25 and conclude Dec. 10. Pending updated public health data and travel guidelines in the fall, all undergraduate students will return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday to complete the final two weeks of classes and take exams in person. The semester will conclude Dec. 18.
  • Academic calendars for graduate and professional programs will largely follow the undergraduate schedule, beginning Aug. 25 and concluding Dec. 10. Students will return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday to complete the final two weeks of classes and take exams, if applicable, in person. The semester will conclude Dec. 18. Specific schools may have slight schedule variations. All students will receive additional information from their respective schools with full calendar details.
  • The university will observe Fall Break Oct. 14–15. Information about travel guidance and restrictions during that time will be determined based on updated public health travel guidelines in the fall.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students will receive an additional reading day Dec. 8 to supplement regular reading days Dec. 11–12 during final exams.
  • Students must request a Leave of Absence through the appropriate school official if they cannot engage in in-person instruction on campus and do not have an approved accommodation.

Study abroad programming

In anticipation of improved conditions for international travel, the Global Education Office will be offering a limited number of study abroad programs for fall 2021. Vanderbilt’s Global Safety & Security team and GEO will closely monitor identified programs through the spring, and final decisions about whether travel can proceed will be made on a location-by-location basis this summer. Applications are open now; for more information, visit GEO’s website

Fall housing

We will be welcoming as many students back to campus as is possible. The university is a residential campus for undergraduate students, and that experience is an integral part of a Vanderbilt education. Information was shared with students March 18 about the fall housing assignment process.

I encourage you to regularly check the Return to Campus website for ongoing updates about the university’s pandemic response and protocols. 

Tracey George
Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs