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Fall 2020 Updates For Returning Students

By now you have seen Emory University’s announcement about revised plans for the Fall 2020 semester that require us to greatly reduce the number of people in residence on campus and move nearly all of our classes online. I know this is not the news you wanted to hear about fall semester, and please know that I, and the faculty and staff of Emory College, share in your disappointment. It is heartbreaking not to be able to welcome back all of you who wish to be on campus in the coming semester.

At the beginning of June, when we prepared plans for the fall, COVID-19 cases were falling. Unfortunately, in the last month, COVID-19 cases have grown exponentially in the Atlanta region with no signs of slowing down. Given that reality, it was imperative to reexamine the plan we made just a month ago.

We have again consulted continuously with the CDC, local health officials, and a team of internationally known medical and public-health experts from across the university, Emory Healthcare, and affiliated institutions. As a result, the public health and safety demands wrought by the pandemic have required us to revamp those plans and make the extremely difficult decision to reduce the number of students who can be on campus for the health and safety of our community.

I know that none of you were expecting your time at Emory to be this way. This has been and continues to be a challenging year. Despite these challenges, we are prepared and committed to help you be successful in the coming fall semester that will be like none other in our history.

First and foremost, your academic experience in the fall will be very different to what you experienced in the spring semester. The situation in the spring required us to switch to remote teaching instantly and gave your faculty little time to prepare. This summer, over 700 faculty and graduate instructors – your professors – have completed intensive training on course design and online teaching, allowing us to maintain the high standards of engagement, intellectual inquiry, and academic rigor inherent to an Emory College liberal arts education.

Their passion and dedication to providing the very best instruction possible for you has been remarkable. Though the medium of instruction may be different from what you have experienced in person, the academic excellence of the Emory faculty and their dedication to your success has not changed.

Below are more specifics on what to expect this fall. To restate key points from the University’s message:

  • The academic calendar remains the same: The first day of class for the fall semester will be Wednesday, August 19 and all classes will end on Tuesday, November 24. Final exams will take place remotely following the Thanksgiving Break. Classes will take place on Labor Day (Monday, September 7) and there will be no Fall Break.
  • Mindful of the health and safety of all of our students, only a limited number of on campus beds will be available to employ best housing practices in this challenging environment. Therefore, university housing will be unable to accommodate every student who desires to live on campus. (Full details are available on the Residence Life website).
  • Emory’s residence halls will operate at reduced density with one student per bedroom. The following students with an active 2020-21 Housing Agreement are permitted to live in residence:
    • first-year students,
    • international students,
    • new transfer students,
    • select seniors completing Honors work,
    • undergraduate students receiving scholarships as part of a scholarship program specifying on-campus housing as a condition of their scholarship, and
    • students approved to remain on campus during the special spring 2020 process.
  • For some students, living on campus is essential for them to have the learning environment to succeed academically. Students with existing university housing agreements whose home or financial insecurity, time zone differences or access to technology will make it impossible for them to complete their studies off campus, may request to stay in Emory housing.
  • Only a limited number of residence hall rooms are available, so students should exhaust other options for a secure living situation before requesting to live on campus in the fall.
  • To make a request, students need to complete the Fall 2020 Housing Request form available through the MyHousing portal beginning July 17. The deadline to submit a housing request is July 21.
  • Please note that students living off-campus in the Atlanta area will have very limited access to the campus.
  • In recognition of the financial stress on students, Emory will be holding undergraduate tuition at 2019-2020 rates for the coming year. In addition, families can request to have their financial aid reassessed if they have experienced changes in economic status since filing their FAFSA. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Office of Financial Aid.

Key Information for Emory College Students

  • You WILL NOT need to re-register for classes
  • All College of Arts and Sciences courses currently listed as in-person will move online—with the exception of a few courses exclusively for first-year students, a small number of advanced laboratory and performance courses, and a very small number of other courses deemed necessary.
  • If you have registered for an in-person course the course will move online and meet at the same day and time. Note that most online courses will meet synchronously only once a week, so there may be some slight variations in the online schedule.
  • We expect the Fall 2020 semester to operate under the regular Emory College academic policies (including course grading) regardless of course delivery format. The College will work to provide appropriate academic support to students who become ill or must quarantine during the semester.
  • We know that students may face challenges with technology, their health and their home environments. Faculty have been advised to be cognizant of these challenges and flexible with their attendance policies.
  • Most academic support resources will continue to be available online, including: EPASS Learning Assistants, EPASS Academic Peer and Staff Coaches, EPASS Tutoring (all available through College Connect), the Writing Center, and academic workshops to help students strategize how to be successful in an online environment.
Emory College FAQ

We know you have many other questions regarding the fall. Please review the FAQ providing more details on academic-related questions on the Emory College Forward site. Additional questions about courses and academic policy may be directed to

Housing, Dining, Student Health

For students who will be on campus, questions about housing, dining, health and safety, and, in general, what to expect for your campus experience are also of high concern. Visit the Campus Life Fall 2020 page for more information and bookmark the page to stay abreast of updates. The University’s Emory Forward page will also provide additional information about reopening.

As your dean, I continue to be proud of you and the resolve you have shown thus far. We are living through a profoundly historic time in our world, and these challenges and changes are never easy. However, I feel confident we will meet the challenges ahead and come together as a community in new and exciting ways.

Sincerely yours,

Michael A. Elliott, PhD
Dean, Emory College of Arts and Sciences
Charles Howard Candler Professor of English