Harrisburg Class of 2021 to be celebrated with in-person commencement ceremony

March 29, 2021

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Penn State Harrisburg will host in-person commencement ceremonies in May to mark the class of 2021’s completion of their academic experience and to recognize their many accomplishments. Virtual and livestream options also will be available for students, friends and family members who are unable to attend or prefer to participate online.

Ceremonies will be held at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on May 6 and 7. All undergraduate and graduate students who filed their intent to graduate in spring 2021 will receive information to attend the commencement ceremony for their assigned school within Penn State Harrisburg. Ceremonies are as follows:

  • Undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education and the School of Public Affairs – 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6
  • Undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Business Administration and the School of Humanities – 2 p.m. Friday, May 7
  • Undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Science, Engineering, and Technology – 7 p.m. Friday, May 7 

“Commencement is a major milestone of our student’s academic career and a momentous occasion for their loved ones and the entire college community,” said Penn State Harrisburg Chancellor John M. Mason Jr. “I am pleased that we will be able to gather together in person to celebrate the achievements of the members of the class of 2021. We are looking forward to recognizing the culmination of their years of dedication and hard work.

“Recognizing that we must remain vigilant with respect to COVID-19, following public health guidelines is imperative,” Mason said. “We will continue to monitor the changing virus conditions or changes in public health guidelines and adjust our plans as necessary.”

There will be a limit of four guests per graduate at Penn State Harrisburg ceremonies to allow for physical distancing, seating accommodations and stage placement. Tickets will be required for all graduates and guests attending ceremonies, and graduates will be required to register for the tickets. More information and instructions regarding the ticketing process will be available soon.

The college’s ceremonies will include the conferral of degrees, speakers and induction into the Penn State Alumni Association. To adjust for protocols that protect the health and safety of students, guests and employees in attendance, graduates will not be called upon to walk across the stage. However, each graduate's name will be announced.

The ceremonies will be livestreamed so graduates, friends and loved ones who are unable to attend may watch the ceremony that their graduate attends.

Should guidance from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and/or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shift to allow higher capacity for gatherings leading up to commencement weekend, the college's plans regarding capacity and guest limits will remain the same with up to four guests per graduate.

University-wide virtual ceremony

In addition to the in-person ceremonies, Penn State will also host a University-wide virtual ceremony to help make commencement accessible for all students and their loved ones. Graduates, friends and family members who are unable to attend or prefer to participate online may view the University-wide virtual ceremony on May 9 at 6 p.m. at virtual.commencement.psu.edu.

The virtual ceremony will celebrate all undergraduate and graduate students at Commonwealth Campuses, University Park and World Campus — including those also attending an in-person ceremony — and will feature the conferral of degrees, induction into the Alumni Association and more.

Health and safety guidelines

All students, guests and employees across each campus will be required to wear face masks and maintain physical distancing from others to help minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. Penn State Harrisburg staff will be on site to provide guidance and answer questions. All guests who will be attending an in-person commencement ceremony are expected to take health and safety precautions while traveling and during commencement weekend. In addition, graduates and guests should not attend an in-person ceremony if within the last 14 days they think they have been exposed, are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, are awaiting test results or have tested positive for COVID-19.

Graduates and guests should be prepared to undergo a touchless temperature screening prior to entering the Giant Center.

Graduating students who would like to be tested for COVID-19 before attending their commencement ceremony will be able to do so by contacting the campus Student Health Services at 717-948-6015 or hbghealth@psu.edu.

Penn State is monitoring closely the spread of new variants and the potential impact of increased activities such as travel nationally. The University is prepared to shift plans should circumstances surrounding the pandemic change or worsen. More information will continue to be shared and updated as needed leading up to commencement to align the University's plans with the most up-to-date federal and state guidance.

Class of 2020

In partnership with the Penn State Alumni Association and in consultation with alumni representatives, the University is planning for a special weekend in spring 2022 to celebrate the members of the class of 2020. More information will be forthcoming as the University continues to develop plans to welcome recent graduates and their families back to campuses next spring. Campuses will communicate specific plans for their alumni as they become available.

Last Updated March 29, 2021