Ohio State Announces In-Person Graduation Plans


Ohio State University announced today that it plans to host a modified in-person spring start for graduates in what will be the first non-virtual start since late 2019.

“We are partnering with state and local health officials on a plan to provide our students and their families the opportunity to safely celebrate their accomplishments in person,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson.

While the university is working to uphold many of the proud traditions of the state of Ohio, the health and safety guidelines mean that certain elements will need to change. The university will make adjustments to provide a memorable celebration at the ohio stadium that is safe and healthy, including no more than 13,500 attendees at each of the two graduation ceremonies to allow for physical distancing.

  • Two guests can accompany each graduate, and there will be a live broadcast available for those who cannot see it in person. Each group of three, including the masked graduate, family, and / or friends, will be separated by 6 feet from the others.
  • All ticketing will be digital to minimize close interaction, and seating and timed gate entry will be designated in advance.
  • Points six feet apart will be placed outside each Ohio stadium gate, and graduates and guests must enter together.
  • Graduates will receive diplomas on their way to the stadium at assigned times.
  • Space limitations mean that a small number of graduates and their guests will be sitting on the field alongside the university leaders.

Students and families overwhelmingly support graduation in person

A survey by the Office of Student Life found an overwhelming amount of support for an in-person start among 2021 graduates, with 86.2% of 4,245 respondents in favor. Those who favor graduation in person said they and their families looked forward to the opportunity.

“I am especially excited about this opportunity for our first generation graduates, who have realized the special importance of graduation,” said Johnson. “The health and safety of the Buckeye Nation continues to be our top priority, and we will continue to work in partnership with health officials to make safe decisions to celebrate the college achievements of our students.”

The last in-person ceremony held in the state of Ohio was on December 15, 2019, when U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown addressed some 3,600 graduates at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Since then, graduation has been held virtually as part of the Safe and healthy chestnuts pandemic mitigation efforts.

Plan to Honor 2020 Graduates

The university celebrated Ohio State’s 2020 spring, summer and fall graduates in virtual graduation ceremonies and is committed to celebrating the Class of 2020 in person when safe. The state of Ohio will recognize these students later this year as part of the August 8 graduation. This ceremony, normally held at the Schottenstein Center, will move to Ohio Stadium to help ensure a safe and healthy experience.

Academic leadership will work with individual colleges and units on their unique graduation-related activities to ensure they follow safe and healthy guidelines. More information on logistics, ticketing and other parameters for the 2021 and 2020 graduates will be shared with the community as the May 9 start date approaches.

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