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March 25, 2021 – Undergraduate students: our fall 2021 academic calendar

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

Dear students,

As Chancellor Diermeier shared earlier today, fall semester classes will be offered in person. We greatly look forward to returning to the full residential learning experience that is integral to student life and to our educational mission at Vanderbilt.

While this decision signals a step toward the life we recognize, our excitement and optimism must, by necessity, be tempered by the dynamic reality of the pandemic. Our priority remains ensuring the health and safety of our students, postdocs, faculty and staff as much as possible, and current COVID-19 testing and safety protocols remain in place. Should the status of the pandemic change dramatically over the spring and summer, or should public health guidance advise against in-person instruction, an alternative option may be required.

I know you will have questions about other facets of campus life, including ongoing COVID-19 protocols, events and housing. We will continue to monitor the pandemic to inform our full fall semester plans and will provide additional information in the coming weeks.

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. 
  • If you cannot engage in in-person instruction on campus and do not have an approved accommodation, you must request a Leave of Absence through the appropriate official in your school.
  • 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.

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. As a reminder, information was shared March 18 about the fall housing assignment process.

Housing registration for the 2021–22 academic year will begin April 1 and close April 5 at 6 p.m. CT.  All students who plan to enroll in courses at Vanderbilt for the fall 2021 semester must register for the process during this time using the online Housing Portal.

Students currently authorized to live off campus will be permitted to reside off campus for the 2021–22 academic year only if they properly register and re-apply between April 1-5. Failure to apply for off-campus authorization will result in a loss of authorization for the 2021–22 academic year, and the student will be required to reside on campus.

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

For students or parents with any questions, call our dedicated helpline, which is available 24 hours a day, at 615-322-4357.


Vanessa B. Beasley, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Residential Faculty

G.L. Black
Assistant Provost and Deputy Dean of Students