Updated May 16, 2021

What are the plans for the May 2021 commencement?

Virtual campuswide commencement — All undergraduate and graduate students were invited to join a virtual ceremony on May 15, 2021. Watch a recording of the ceremony, download the program, and share these links with family with friends. 

In-person, student-only procession — To honor a cherished part of graduation, we will hold an in-person, student-only procession at the Greek Theatre from May 16-20, 2021, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. each day. Only 200 graduates are crossing the stage per hour to maintain safety, which is why we are allotting five days so that everyone has the chance to participate. Watch this instructional video on how to make your procession a success. The procession will be livestreamed.  

Virtual department graduations (organized by departments) — Many schools, colleges, departments, and student organizations will hold their own virtual ceremonies or receptions in May. Contact the coordinator listed on the Department Graduations page for details.

Who can participate in the May 2021 events?

All undergraduate and graduate students graduating in fall 2020, spring 2021, and summer 2021.

Why can’t we celebrate in person?

As a public university, we must adhere to several public health guidelines at the local, state, and national level. While the vaccine is becoming more available and circumstances may improve, it takes months to plan a ceremony of this magnitude for some 60,000 visitors from around the world. We cannot predict what the guidelines will recommend for that time, yet we are committed to celebrating graduates' achievements in as safe, equitable, and shareable a way as possible. We believe the virtual commencement and in-person, student-only procession are the best solutions.

Do I need to get a vaccine or COVID-19 test to attend the in-person procession?

(Note: This answer could change as public health guidelines evolve.) Yes. You will need to show a green badge, which indicates you have met the requirements for being on campus, or a campus access badge. Two ways to get a green badge:

If you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your final shot), you may upload your vaccine records to the eTang patient portal. However, if you have never been tested for COVID-19 through Cal, you will still need to get one at a campus testing site to activate your green badge. Outside COVID-19 test results don't work with our system. Your badge will stay green for 180 days if you are fully vaccinated.

If you are not fully vaccinated, schedule your free COVID-19 test at a campus site (Monday through Friday) through etang.berkeley.edu. Your test should occur no more than six days before you process, and can be as late as 30 minutes before you process. Your badge will turn green when you check in to your appointment. Testing is closed on the weekend, so if you are processing on Sunday, May 16, you must be tested by Friday, May 14. 

You must also complete a daily symptom screener and show it to enter the theater.

If you are processing and were unable to get screened or tested through UC Berkeley, bring your vaccination card showing you received your second shot at least two weeks ago, or proof that you tested negatively within the last 72 hours. Getting into the Greek Theatre will take longer, so we strongly recommend you use the campus badge process if you can. 

Can I process with my school or college?

The procession allows for 200 students to cross the Greek Theatre stage per hour in 10-minute increments. Because many schools and colleges far exceed that number of students, and it is both unsafe and disallowed for large groups to gather anywhere on or near campus, the procession is not scheduled according to schools and colleges. Instead, consider coordinating with a small group of your friends to walk at the same time. You may also check with your school, college, or department to see if it is planning its own virtual ceremony or reception. 

Can graduates bring guests?

The campus is currently closed to the public to comply with state orders, and we cannot predict when that order will be lifted. The opportunities to gather, either on or off campus, are both limited and discouraged. We encourage graduates instead to plan a small celebration with their loved ones as their local guidelines allow.

What are the commencement plans for the Class of 2020?

As the pandemic wore on last year, we surveyed the students who had graduated in May 2020 on when and how to celebrate their achievement. Their preference for an in-person campuswide commencement was clear, and we have not forgotten that. As of April 2021, however, public health guidelines at the local, state, and national level still do not allow for groups of this size to gather — some 60,000 visitors from around the world attend commencement — nor can we predict when the guidelines will change, making it difficult to select a date and start planning. We will communicate with the May 2020 graduates as soon as we can determine the best path forward.


For general commencement questions, please contact us. For questions about departmental ceremonies, please contact your coordinator listed on the Department Graduations page.