Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
May 11, 2021

Vaccine Requirements for the Fall Semester

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community:

We are moving closer to the completion of a successful academic year, despite the continuing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. That success has been the result of several thoughtfully managed mitigation strategies, and the willingness and diligence of our entire community to uphold them.

This spring we have seen the introduction of three vaccines in the United States, each of which has proven to significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the risk of serious illness when the disease is contracted. The expansion of vaccine production and eligibility, as well as widespread adoption, have enabled us to plan for resuming operations to support as many in-person experiences as possible, both inside and outside the classroom beginning this fall.

Consistent with scientific evidence on the importance of vaccine adoption to control spread of the virus, to the extent permissible by law, Carnegie Mellon University will require all enrolled students to be vaccinated for COVID-19, effective this fall semester. This policy will apply to all undergraduate and graduate students in U.S.-based programs. CMU regularly updates the vaccines required by university policy, which will be updated by July 15th for the 2021-22 academic year. CMU’s global locations will communicate vaccine requirements to its student bodies separately consistent with their regional contexts. 

Some important considerations:

Requirements for unvaccinated students: CMU recognizes there may be some population of students who will not be vaccinated when the fall semester begins. We will secure student vaccination opportunities in the weeks leading up to the start of the fall to ensure all students have access to approved vaccines. For these students and for others who receive approved exemption from the vaccine requirement as described below, later this summer we will communicate mitigation requirements that will apply in order for them to participate in campus life.

International vaccines: We understand that many of our international students may receive vaccines approved in their home countries that have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States. We will work with medical experts and look to federal guidance as to whether such vaccines will meet CMU’s requirements. We will provide updates later this summer as more data becomes available to guide our planning and options to support our international students.

Exceptions to requirement: Consistent with federal and state law, CMU will consider medical or religious exemptions to the vaccine requirement for students. Details on the process to request an exception will be announced this summer.

Students will be required to provide documentation of their vaccination prior to the start of the fall semester. The process for doing so will be communicated at a later date. As we develop the mechanism for gathering this information, we will do so in a manner that protects the privacy of our students, as we do with all medical records.

Regarding faculty and staff: We are currently studying a potential requirement of vaccination for all Pittsburgh-based faculty and staff, and after conferring with various stakeholder groups, will communicate more details in the weeks ahead. Consistent with federal and state law, CMU will consider medical or religious exemptions to any vaccine requirement for faculty and staff. We will also be coordinating with our other global locations about requirements for their faculty and staff. In the meantime, we continue to encourage everyone to become vaccinated as soon as possible, and not to wait for a decision on whether vaccinations will be required for faculty and staff.

We continue to offer CMU-dedicated opportunities to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. University Health Services will distribute first doses of the Moderna vaccine in Rangos Ballroom on May 14 and 18. These opportunities are open to all CMU students, faculty, staff, affiliates and vendors. Many students have already secured their vaccines and we urge any students waiting to be vaccinated until the end of the semester to take advantage of these opportunities. To register for an appointment, please visit our scheduling page. Walk-ins will be accommodated as dose availability permits, but registration is preferred.

Even with the vaccine, we expect to begin the fall semester with several of the mitigation protocols in place that served us well this past year. Our decisions on these protocols will continue to be informed by guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and county health departments, and our own public health experts. We thank you in advance for your continued adherence to these measures.

As we look forward to being back together on campus this fall, creating and maintaining a healthy campus environment continues to be our top priority. We thank you for your ongoing perseverance, commitment and resilience.


Jim Garrett
Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Gina Casalegno
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Daryl Weinert
Chief of Staff, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
CMU COVID-19 Coordinator