Fall Semester

Admissions and Financial Aid

What if a student wants to consider taking a gap year?
All gap year requests for members of the Class of 2024 must be submitted by August 5, 2020.
An applicant who has been offered admission to Washington University may request to defer enrollment after completing enrollment materials and submitting the enrollment deposit. Typically, students who defer do so because they wish to travel, complete required military service, or participate in a year-long gap year program. Students must request to defer enrollment in writing. Students generally do not attend another university during a gap year, however, if they do complete coursework they must contact their dean’s office at Washington University to have an assessment of any credits earned to see if they will transfer. The dean’s office has the final say on transferability of any credits earned.

What is the deferral process?
WashU recognizes that a small number of students each year may request to defer their admission for a year and take a gap year to complete military service, religious commitments, or a well-defined, substantial personal growth opportunity. Deferral requests are evaluated by the Admissions Office on a case-by-case basis, and are only offered for one year. Note: Requests for a second year will be granted only in the case of compulsory military or religious service.

To begin the gap year request process, an admitted student should contact the Admissions Office (admissions@wustl.edu). Students in the Class of 2024 were encouraged to submit their requests by June 15, 2020. All gap year requests must be submitted by August 5, 2020, and students will be notified of the outcome of their requests by August 15, 2020.

Please note that students are unable to enroll full-time at another institution while on a gap year. Additionally, students admitted after May 1 are not eligible to take a gap year.

How will financial aid be affected by all of this? Will current aid awards be honored?
We are committed to meeting demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. Should the university need to limit access to campus and move to an online instructional environment in the future, all financial aid awards will be honored. The university will also continue to review and adjust aid to support students and families whose financial situations change during the course of their undergraduate enrollment at the university. Additional information regarding Student Financial Services can be found here.


I’m a fall athlete. How do these changes impact my move-in and practice schedule? When will I know whether we will compete this fall?
The Department of Athletics will contact student-athletes directly with more details about the fall season.

Academic Calendar

Most schools seem to be starting early and ending at Thanksgiving. Why is Washington University starting later and running later?
At WashU, the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff guides our decision making regarding the academic calendar. In evaluating scenarios for how best to manage the uncertainties associated with containment of COVID-19, the university determined that a delayed start provided additional time to ready the campus, optimize best practices in health and safety, and slowly and intentionally transition students, faculty and staff back into residential living and learning.  

Will there be a fall break? What about Thanksgiving?
The 2020 academic calendar for undergraduate students does not include a fall break.  Thanksgiving break has been reduced by one day – the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is now an instructional day. Thanksgiving break travel will be subject to travel guidance that will be communicated as it evolves. 

Why are finals being held after January 1?
In order to accommodate the adjusted academic calendar and ensure that students are still able to complete the required number of classroom hours to receive full credit for their coursework, we needed to condense the semester for Arts & Sciences, McKelvey Engineering, Olin Business School, Sam Fox School and University College. Moving finals online and holding them after January 1 will allow students to complete their classes and still have a holiday break. 

The final exam schedule for courses which hold exams during the exam period is being adjusted given the changes to the academic calendar. The new exam period will be communicated by July 31. Due dates for other final assignments will be determined by individual faculty members.


Will classes be online or in person?
Specific plans for delivering instruction are still under development and will be shared with our students no later than July 31. It is likely that classes will be offered through a combination approach – in-person, hybrid (a combination of in-person and online), and online. In-person class structure may be staggered or offered on rotating schedules to accommodate smaller class sizes. Most classes will also be taught online, even though students are on campus. Principles of physical distancing and masking will be adopted based on guidance from the CDC, our local health department and our own medical and public health professionals.

Will I know how a course is being delivered when I register for classes? What if I want to only sign up for classes I know will be in-person?
Returning students have already registered for their classes. New students will be registering this summer. Class structures are currently being developed, but most courses will have an online option.

Campus Events

Will orientation be impacted by COVID-19? What about big events at the start of the semester like student move-in, convocation, immersive experiences? Will these be canceled or changed in any way?
As we learn more in the weeks ahead about the public health recommendations for the summer and beyond, we will make any needed adjustments to our August orientation programs to ensure the safety of all participants.  Updates will be posted on the new students website. In making decisions about the health and safety of our community, we will continue to follow guidance and directives from our infectious disease experts and government officials to contain the transmission of COVID-19.  At this point we can say it is likely that big events involving large groups of people will be canceled, held virtually or otherwise adjusted to accommodate any health precautions or requirements (e.g., social distancing) that may be in effect at the time. We will keep all incoming students and families updated as decisions are made.

Will we have Convocation, Parents and Family Weekend, or other big events?
Safety measures associated with events are in development. It is likely that all large community events will be cancelled this fall. Details will be communicated by July 31.

What about our December Recognition Ceremony this year?  Will it be in December or January due to the new schedule?
Our December Recognition Ceremony always takes place before the actual end of the fall semester. The date for 2020 has not changed and December Recognition is still scheduled for Saturday, December 12. We will continue to monitor public health recommendations and if there are changes to the ceremony or to the date we will communicate those as soon as we can.

With the new 2020-21 academic calendar, has the date for Commencement for the Class of 2021 changed?
No. We are planning to celebrate Commencement with the Class of 2021 on Friday, May 21, 2021, as scheduled. We have not changed the date. The Class of 2020 is having a special ceremony that will take place on Sunday, May 30, 2021, since the in-person ceremony was canceled this year.


When will I find out my housing assignment?
New students will be notified regarding their housing assignment by August 1st. Most returning students have already received a housing assignment, but the university reserves the right to change housing assignments as needed in order to respond to the safety needs of our community.

Can you tell me what day I can move in?
Not at this time. Please do not make non-refundable travel plans until you have received further instructions about the move-in and orientation process.

When is move-in? How will it be different?
We will be modifying the student move-in process and new student orientation to reflect public health guidelines. Even with changes to these programs, our new students will still participate in a comprehensive orientation that will be delivered virtually and in-person.  Orientation plans are currently underway, as are plans for student move-in.  Details will be communicated by July 31.

Housing Costs

Will the changes to the academic calendar affect the costs for housing and dining?
We are currently reviewing the new academic schedule for 2020-21 and will provide an update on housing and dining rates by the end of June.

Should I sign a lease for my non-Residential Life, off-campus apartment? What if classes are moved online and I have to break my lease?
The university will not reimburse losses associated with private off-campus leases. In the event that the Danforth Campus closes during the course of the semester for reasons related to health and safety, students living in university-owned housing will be reimbursed a pro-rated portion of their room and board.

What if the semester is disrupted again? Will we get refunds for housing and dining?
Should the university choose to ask students to return to their primary residence during the course of a semester as a result of a pandemic or other emergency, the university will offer students the ability to remain in residence on campus on a case-by-case basis should international travel restrictions or other significant extenuating circumstances prevent them from returning home. For students who do leave, the university will provide a prorated refund of room costs, as well as a refund on any unused meal points. Students receiving full financial aid are also eligible for this refund to provide additional support if they are required to return to their permanent residence.

Other Questions About Housing

See full details and the latest information about housing on the Residential Life website.


What safety measures will be in place when we return to campus? Will these be recommendations or requirements?
Everyone will need to modify behavior and take responsibility for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Specific safety measures are in development and will be communicated by July 31.

What steps is the university planning to take to keep the community safe?
There is nothing more important than the safety of our students, faculty and staff. In making determinations about the health and safety of our community, the university will continue to follow the guidance and directives from these experts and government officials to contain the transmission of COVID-19. Information on how the university is currently screening students, staff and faculty can be found here.

What testing for COVID-19 will be available on campus for the fall? Will this be required of everyone?
Guidance on initial testing requirements for students returning to campus is in development.  Details will be communicated by July 31. Students, faculty and staff will be expected to conduct daily self-screening before leaving their place of residence and/or coming onto campus. For students who are symptomatic, testing will be coordinated through the Habif Health and Wellness Center. 

Student Travel

Will you allow students to travel home during the semester?
Nonessential travel may be discouraged in accordance with guidance from the CDC, local health department and the division of infectious disease.  Students traveling during the course of the semester may be required to quarantine for 14 days before returning to in-class learning and other interactions on campus. Guidance will be communicated by July 31 and as it evolves.