Celebrating Penn’s 265th Commencement

Due to COVID-19 public health limitations, the in-person ceremony is only open to graduating seniors. Family, friends, and the community at large are invited to tune in to a live webcast online.

Graduation caps thrown in air

On Monday, May 17, Penn will host a limited, in-person Commencement ceremony in the morning at Franklin Field for Class of 2021 academically eligible seniors. For graduate students, family, friends, and anyone else in the community who wishes to take part, the University encourages tuning in to Penn’s live webcast, which will begin at 9 a.m. A recording will be available on the Commencement website after the ceremony. 

Laurene Powell Jobs
Alumna and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs will deliver the address at the 2021 Penn Commencement on Monday.

Laurene Powell Jobs, a 1985 graduate of both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School, will be Penn’s 2021 Commencement speaker, and will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. Powell Jobs is an impact investor and social justice advocate, founder and president of Emerson Collective, founder of College Track, and co-founder of The XQ Institute. Other honorary degree recipients include Elizabeth Alexander, Frances H. Arnold, David L. Cohen, Joy Harjo, David Miliband, John Williams, and Janet L. Yellen.

Although there will not be a traditional procession of graduates down Locust Walk to Franklin Field, a new, sentimental way to celebrate will take place: Parents, family members, and friends of graduating students have submitted videos with congratulatory messages that will play before the ceremony begins. 

Students invited and registered to attend the event in-person—who should have already started screening testing for COVID-19—should arrive at their assigned times to check-in areas on Shoemaker Green and South Street, where they will be required to show their Green PennOpen Pass and Penn ID. In the event of severe weather, the event will move to Zellerbach Theatre in the Annenberg Center, where just the stage party will be in attendance. Such a decision would be made by 5:30 a.m. the morning of Commencement. 

All school-based graduation ceremonies are being presented virtually. Information about these virtual ceremonies is available on the school ceremonies page. 

The in-person plans are all contingent upon there being no major interim change for the worse in the course of the pandemic. For more information regarding Commencement in general and eligibility requirements, check out Penn’s detailed list of responses to frequently asked questions