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MIT, Emerson to hold online graduation ceremonies

At MIT and Emerson, college commencement ceremonies will be held online.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

MIT and Emerson College announced Tuesday that in-person commencement activities planned for this spring have been postponed, but seniors can expect virtual celebrations.

The two Boston-area schools are the latest to scratch the traditional ceremonies marking college graduations due to the coronavirus.

“I know you have been holding out hope that the recognition you have earned might still be presented in the usual way. We have all been hoping,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a message to the school. “So I expect this news may be sharply disappointing.”

Reif said his own high graduation was cancelled due to an earthquake, and he understands that MIT students and their families will be hurt by the decision.


MIT plans to hold an online event on May 29, with an in-person celebration planned in the future. The university is also postponing spring college reunions.

“I promise you, we are going to reinvent these wonderful rituals to honor and celebrate with you, in the best MIT spirit, in ways that make sense in this most unusual time,” Reif said.

Emerson is exploring ways to honor the Class of 2020 as close to the originally planned commencement ceremonies as possible, said Lee Pelton, the college’s president, in a message to the community.

Emerson ceremonies were scheduled for May 9 and 10.

“Although a virtual ceremony cannot replace an in-person one, I trust that the creativity of our community, and the individuality and indomitable spirit represented by the members of the Class of 2020, will make our event memorable just the same,” Pelton said.

He added the school would provide more details about plans in the coming weeks. Emerson is also looking to hold an in-person commencement in the fall, once it is safe for large groups to gather.

Harvard and Northeastern have already announced that they are postponing traditional commencement ceremonies and planning online events.


Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at Follow her @fernandesglobe.