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Graduate School Update on the Fall 2020 Semester

Bookmark this page for additional information specific to graduate students concerning the fall 2020 semester and visit the Return to Campus page for the most up-to-date information about the Vanderbilt University plans for fall.

A message from the dean

Dean Mark Wallace outside Alumni Hall, home of the Graduate SchoolDear graduate students,

The Incoming Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente announced that we will be resuming on-campus, in-person classes for the fall semester.

With that said, the semester will look unusual in a number of ways due to our efforts to ensure your personal safety while also striving to continue to deliver exceptional academic content.  Classes will be delivered differently, either in-person, online, or a hybrid, and some may be offered at non-traditional times, like evenings and weekends.

The information in this message summarizes important details applicable to you regarding the return for fall classes.  Additional information will be available on the Return to Campus website and from the Director of Graduate Studies for your program.

1.  Fall registration

  • Registration for continuing graduate students closes 11:59 PM on July 8. Please take note of this date as it differs from prior years because of the need to understand course enrollments for classroom planning. If you typically register yourself, please do so by this date. If you are registered by your program, please coordinate with them.
  • After the initial close date, the Graduate School will communicate any specific or course-related adjustments to students by late July.
  • Registration will resume near the beginning of the semester (date TBA) and will remain open through the start of the fall semester.
  • Registration for new and transfer graduate student will also open just prior to the semester start (date TBA).

2.  Fall calendar dates

  • In-person, on-campus classes will begin Monday, August 24 and will conclude Friday, November 20.
  • The final two weeks of the semester, including final exams, will occur remotely.
  • The semester ends Sunday, December 13.

3.  Acknowledgement Form

  • Students will be required to complete an acknowledgment form prior to returning for fall classes. 
  • Links to this acknowledgment will be distributed to you by e-mail.

4.  New student orientation

  • Orientation for incoming graduate students will consist of online modules that students can address at their own pace prior to the start of the semester.
  • Individual programs will be in touch with their students with more information on their specific orientation requirements.

5.  Social distancing in on-campus classrooms 

  • To practice physical distancing and other requirements for health and safety, students will sit farther apart and will wear masks or face coverings in classrooms.  Faculty and teaching assistants will also adopt appropriate public health safety methods.
  • Course schedules may include some evening and weekend classes, a blend of virtual and alternative and in-person learning, and other approaches.
  • All courses will have options for delivery through virtual and alternative platforms to provide for students who cannot return to campus due to travel restrictions or health risks, and for those students who need to be in self-isolation or quarantine during the semester.

We will update you frequently as details concerning the fall semester are finalized, including the process to enroll in remote-only instruction and how to arrange for accommodations if you are unable to attend classes in person. As we move forward, your Director of Graduate Studies will be an invaluable resource to answer questions that specifically apply to your program.

The fall semester will present us with many unprecedented challenges, but I am confident that we will have a successful return to on-campus, in-person classes, and with everyone’s contributed effort, will do so in a manner that supports your health and wellness in the process.


Mark Wallace
Dean of the Graduate School