Spring Semester Update

October 09, 2020

To the George Washington University Community:

It is hard to believe that we already are nearing the midpoint of our fall term. Thanks to the collaborative and creative efforts of many, we have been hearing positive stories about the virtual GW experience, including new teaching, learning, and research opportunities as well as only-at-GW events that are bringing the community together. On campus, we are continuing to enforce the critical public health measures that are helping to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe.

Although we remain focused on ensuring a successful fall semester, we also recognize the importance of planning for and communicating about the spring. Recently, we have discussed our spring plans in the context of some very important considerations:

  • Our foremost priority of health and safety.
  • Recognition of the current spread of the virus and the continued uncertainty about the course of the pandemic over the next several months, both locally and nationally.
  • Our commitment to a positive student residential experience and recognition of the pandemic’s effect on the residential experience, including local limitations on gatherings and other necessary public health measures.
  • Feedback from our community, including continued concern for health and safety, a desire for flexibility, and a need for definitive information that allows ample time for planning.

Based on these considerations, and after consultation with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Student Association leadership, academic leadership, and the Board of Trustees, we have determined we will continue virtual instruction in the spring. All undergraduate courses and most graduate programs will be conducted online, with limited exceptions for courses that require in-person instruction or research.

We want to emphasize that the possibility of being virtual in the spring was already a part of our financial planning. We foresee no new budget reductions associated with this decision.

Below, we are providing some initial information we have now about the spring. We will be working diligently over the coming weeks to provide more information and organize virtual forums for all members of the GW community.

Academic Experience and Tuition Adjustment

As with the fall semester, we will continue to offer a high-quality virtual GW experience, both through our courses and research opportunities and through student services, resources, events, and other engagement opportunities. Nonetheless, we have determined that we will continue to provide a 10 percent tuition reduction to Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon undergraduate students who do not live on campus. Most undergraduate students’ 2020-21 financial aid packages will remain the same unless there is a change in their full-time enrollment or residential living status. We remain committed to ensuring that students’ out-of-pocket university costs are equal to or less than an on-campus residential experience.

As well, graduate tuition will remain frozen.


For our graduating students and their families, we know you are wondering about Commencement. Unfortunately, given restrictions on gatherings that will likely still be in place in May 2021, we do not anticipate we will be able to hold Commencement events in person, including on the National Mall and on campus. We will provide more information about plans for virtual commencement events for our community soon.

More Information and Virtual Forums

We recognize that many members of our community will have more questions based on their specific situations. We will provide more information as soon as possible, and we plan to hold several virtual question-and-answer forums for members of the community over the coming weeks. You will receive information on how to attend these forums as they are scheduled. We also will update the COVID-19 website regularly with more information.

Thank You

Managing this pandemic has called on us all to do our part to keep the community healthy and safe, and to support one another through these difficult decisions. We again want to thank you for your understanding and patience as we make adjustments for the spring and ensure we continue to fulfill our core academic mission together.

We will be in touch again soon. In the meantime, stay safe and stay well.


Thomas J. LeBlanc, President
M. Brian Blake, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Lynn Goldman, Dean, Milken Institute School of Public Health
Mark Diaz, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
M.L. “Cissy” Petty, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Scott Burnotes, Vice President for Safety and Facilities