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These New England colleges are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for the fall

Students waited for 15 minutes in a socially distanced observation area after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine inside Boston College's Conte Forum. BC is among the New England schools requiring students to be vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

After the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted college life, New England universities are hoping the upcoming year offers its students a bit more normalcy.

Many of the region’s colleges and universities have announced that they’ll require students to be vaccinated against the virus before returning to campus in the fall.

Here’s a list of the schools we know of that are requiring students to be immunized, according to statements from the universities and the Chronicle of Higher Education, a trade publication tracking the policies.

Harvard University

An announcement from the university’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, and several other top administrators on May 6 said the school expects staff, faculty, and researchers on campus “will make every effort to be vaccinated as well.”


“We hope to be able to offer a less restricted, robust on-campus experience for all our students this fall,” said the announcement, sent via e-mail to the Harvard community. “These plans, however, depend on low infection rates in our community and across our region.”

Boston University

“Boston University will require all students enrolled in classes on our campuses to be vaccinated before the start of classes in the fall of 2021,” the university’s president, Robert Brown, said in a statement sent to the campus community on April 9.

“Our goal is to move to a ‘new normal’ in the fall that includes only minimal social distancing, where all our facilities are open, students can move freely between residences, and guests are welcome,” the statement continued. “The key to achieving this state will be vaccination of nearly everyone in our community, especially our students.”

Northeastern University

“All students returning to Northeastern University’s campuses for the Fall 2021 term will be expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the first day of classes,” university officials said in an article posted on its website on April 6. “This announcement comes as the university advances its plan for a return to full-time, in-person learning in September while supporting the safety of Northeastern’s campuses and broader community.”


Boston College

“Promoting the health and safety of our campus community and surrounding neighborhood is essential and a priority for everyone,” BC’s president, William P. Leahy, said in a statement on April 24.

Brown University

“Our plans to loosen current limitations on in-person activities for Fall 2021 are based on achieving a high level of immunity among students and employees,” Christina Paxson, the university’s president, wrote April 6 in a letter to the campus community.

Emerson College

“We will require that all students studying on our campuses be vaccinated in order to attend the 2021 Fall Term,” the college’s president, M. Lee Pelton, wrote in an April 21 e-mail sent out to Emerson students, faculty, and staff. “It is our expectation that all staff and faculty will be vaccinated before they return to campus.”

University of Massachusetts Boston

UMass Boston will require vaccinations for everyone planning to live, study, or conduct research on campus in the fall, with exceptions for those with medical, disability, or religious exemptions, vice chancellors Marie Bowen and Gail DiSabatino and executive director of the University Health Services Robert Pomales said in an April 26 e-mail to the school community.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

The requirement comes as part of the university’s fall reopening plan, as the school prepares “for a return to normal campus operations for the next academic year,” Kumble Subbaswamy, the UMass chancellor, wrote in an April 22 e-mail.


State university schools

Students in the nine schools of the state university system will be required to be vaccinated for the coronavirus before they return to campus in the fall, officials said April 26.

The nine campuses include Bridgewater, Fitchburg, Framingham, Salem, Westfield and Worcester State Universities, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Suffolk University

Suffolk University in Boston announced April 29, in a letter from president Marisa Kelly, that students and employees would be required to be vaccinated before returning to campus for fall semester.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our highest priority has been to keep our entire community as safe and healthy as possible. That commitment continues to guide our planning for the coming fall semester. As we look forward to greater in-person campus operations in the fall, one of the ways we can best provide a safe and healthy environment is to maximize vaccination of our population against COVID-19. For this reason, the University will require students and employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before coming to campus for the fall semester.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Following consultation with medical experts, consideration of best public health practices, a review of how other institutions of higher education are approaching student vaccine requirements, and guidance from the American College Health Association, MIT has decided that every enrolled student must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the fall semester begins,” MIT said in an April 30 statement from Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart.


MIT provided a form for students to share their vaccination status with the university.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

“Based on anticipated additional state and federal public health guidelines in the coming months as well as anticipated vaccine availability at vaccination sites across Massachusetts and throughout the country, UMass Lowell is adding the COVID-19 Vaccine to the existing list of required vaccinations for enrolled students,” UMass Lowell states on its website.

“All enrolled undergraduate and graduate students who wish to live or learn or conduct research on campus or access on-campus resources or property must be fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of the fall semester.”

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

“UMass Dartmouth will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all undergraduate and graduate students who wish to live, learn, or physically come to campus before the start of the Fall 2021 semester,” the university’s website states. “This decision was made on the basis of expected additional state, federal and legal guidance and vaccine availability. Of course, the University will accommodate medical, religious, or disability exemptions pursuant to state and federal law. Evidence to date concerning the present and expected approval status and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines supports the university’s position.”

Tufts University

“Students (including undergraduate, graduate, professional, and non-traditional students) will need to be vaccinated prior to participating in on-campus classes or activities,” Tufts states on its website.

The deadline to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for students in the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is July 1, the website says, while students in all other Tufts schools will be required to be vaccinated “prior to the beginning of the fall semester.”


Smith College

“Smith College will require all undergraduate and graduate students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester,” Smith College President Kathleen McCartney said in an April 21 e-mail to students.

Students are asked to verify that they have been vaccinated by uploading their vaccination cards to the school health center’s confidential patient portal, the e-mail said.

“As with other required vaccinations, requests for medical or religious exemptions will be reviewed and accommodated on a case-by-case basis. The college will help international students or others who cannot get a U.S.-approved full vaccination prior to arrival to meet this requirement. We will have additional details about the overall return-to-campus process, including the vaccination requirement, by mid-June,” the e-mail said.

Brandeis University

“To support our robust plans for the fall 2021 semester, and similarly to many other colleges and universities across the country, Brandeis University will require all new and returning students coming to campus to be fully vaccinated. Limited exemptions to this policy will be granted for medical or religious reasons,” Brandeis said in an April 26 letter to students.

“Students must be fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine by the start of the fall term,” the letter says. It also encourages students to prove they have been vaccinated by uploading their vaccination cards to a university portal. Brandeis will also offer vaccinations at the start of the fall semester “for students who are unable to obtain an FDA-authorized vaccine prior to the beginning of the semester.”

Simmons University

“After much consideration, we have decided that Simmons will require all students who are enrolled in classes on our campus to be vaccinated before they arrive on campus in the fall,” Simmons University President Lynn Perry Wooten said in an April 26 letter to students.

“The progress we are making on vaccination rates is critical to our ability to achieve a vibrant on-campus living and learning experience this fall,” the letter said. “Science has shown that the vaccines are very effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and to help prevent serious illness and hospitalization. Our goal is to have all students vaccinated before the fall semester begins, and given the increasing availability of vaccines, we believe this is very achievable. To meet this requirement, students should aim to get their first shot before July 1.”

Springfield College

“As part of our plan to return to more normal operations, Springfield College will require all undergraduate and graduate students who study on our main campus in Springfield, MA to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for the Fall 2021 semester,” Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper wrote in a letter to the college’s students, faculty, and staff on May 3.

Mount Holyoke College

“For the fall 2021 semester, we expect all members of the Mount Holyoke campus community to be vaccinated and we will require students to be vaccinated before returning to campus,” a statement on Mount Holyoke’s website reads. “This will greatly reduce the risk of infection for all. We expect there will be very limited exceptions and will be working to set up structures to ensure compliance and to vaccinate those students who are unable to be vaccinated before returning to campus.”

Hampshire College

“All students returning for the fall 2021 semester will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This supports the College’s plan to return to an in-person, fully residential, personalized, and safe college experience for the fall semester,” an April 22 announcement on the college’s website reads.

Amherst College

“In keeping with our determination to provide a robust teaching and learning environment for students, faculty, and staff while implementing prudent safety measures, we have decided that all students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester,” the college wrote in an April 23 letter to students, faculty, and staff. “More details will follow about how to submit confirmation of your vaccination to the College and about the process for requesting a medical or religious exemption.”

“For those students who are absolutely unable to obtain a vaccine prior to their arrival on campus, the College will provide assistance in obtaining the vaccine in the Amherst area upon arrival,” the letter continued.

Berklee College of Music

“Berklee will require all students returning to our Boston and New York campuses this fall to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the fall 2021 semester,” according to a statement on the college’s website. Berklee will accept vaccines approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.

“When the vast majority of our community is vaccinated, we believe that we can more confidently return to pre-pandemic activities, with open facilities, live performances, minimal social distancing, and more,” the statement reads. “We do currently plan to maintain some of our safety protocols, including mask-wearing, testing, and contact tracing, given that the vaccines are not 100 percent effective, and of course, we will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”

College of the Holy Cross

“All Holy Cross students, except for those who have asked for and been granted an exemption, must be vaccinated before returning to campus in fall or for summer activities,” Holy Cross’s website states.

“This is a vital step for our community in order to have the kind of fall semester we all want; with in-person classes and activities, a full slate of athletics competitions and minimal social distancing requirements,” the statement said. “The vaccines have proven safe and effective, according to public health experts and agencies around the world, including the CDC, and they are now widely available across the country for people older than 16.”

Wheaton College

“For students to attend classes in the fall semester, vaccinations will be required,” Wheaton’s Dean of Students Zachary Irish said in a May 1 statement posted to the school’s website.

The college will “schedule a vaccination clinic at the beginning of the next academic year to enable international students or others who cannot get a vaccination to meet the requirement,” the statement said.

William James College

“After consulting with College leadership, we have made the decision that William James College will require staff, faculty, and students to be fully vaccinated before our full return to campus in the Fall,” the college’s president, Nicholas Covino, said in a May 5 statement.

“This decision is made with the intention of taking the most effective steps to ensure the continuation of a safe and healthy working and learning environment, and it aligns with the decisions made by a number of our colleagues in the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM),” the statement said. “I trust that every member of our community will understand the critical importance of this decision and its impact on creating a safe and healthy learning community. For the few who might be unable to comply with this directive for religious or health restrictions there will be some room for reasonable accommodation.”

Williams College

“We are writing to inform you that, starting August 1, 2021, the college will require all undergraduate and Master’s students to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination as part of the student registration process,” Williams officials wrote in an April 23 letter to students, faculty, and staff.

The university “decided this requirement was necessary to protect each of you individually and to protect others, including children and those unable to get vaccinated because of medical conditions. While there is no ironclad defense against coronavirus, extensive public health research has shown that vaccination greatly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death,” the letter said.

Lasell University

“After consulting with health and medical officials and with the University’s goal to open fully in the Fall and provide a safe campus for our community, we have decided to require the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone on campus – students, employees, and our valued partners,” according to a statement posted on Lasell’s website. “This decision, made by the COVID-19 Task Force in consultation with senior management, will allow Lasell to open our campus with minimal restrictions, thus providing our students with the best possible experience, both academically and socially.”

Lesley University

“We have decided to require all Lesley undergraduate and graduate students who will be on campus for any reason next year to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus before the start of the Fall 2021 Semester,” Lesley University President Janet L. Steinmayer wrote in a May 6 e-mail to students.

“Infectious disease and public health experts continue to advise that vaccination is the surest route to protecting community health and to enabling us to resume more in-person activities with fewer restrictions,” the letter states. “This week, we received new guidance from the Massachusetts Higher Education Testing Group that residential colleges and universities should do everything possible to ensure very high levels of vaccination on their campuses (at least 80% and ideally above 90% to be able to re-densify safely and with fewer restrictions).”

Assumption University

“Pivotal to welcoming as many students as possible back to campus this fall is achieving a minimum 90 percent vaccination rate of the campus community,” Assumption University President Francesco C. Cesareo wrote in a statement posted to the university’s website. “To reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the possibility of acute illness if you are infected, the University will require that all faculty and staff are fully vaccinated by Monday, August 9. Students must be fully vaccinated two weeks prior to their return to campus.”

Providence College

“After a period of deliberate consideration, we have decided to require full-time undergraduate and graduate students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend Providence College in the fall,” Providence College President Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard said in a statement to the campus community on May 27.

“We made this decision by returning to the core principles that have guided our decision-making since the pandemic began more than a year ago,” the statement said. “Our first imperative is to protect the health and safety of all those in our community, closely followed by our commitment to providing – to the greatest extent possible – the full academic and community Providence College experience to our students. Science has given us, by the grace of God, the vaccines that make it possible for us to achieve both those goals. With our students vaccinated, we will be able to return to on-campus living and learning much like it was before the pandemic.”

Regis College

“In preparation for a full in-person return to our Weston campus for the fall 2021 semester, all students, faculty, and staff who will live, learn, and work on campus or who will participate in Regis in-person activities are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” according to a statement posted to Regis’s website.

“COVID-19 vaccines are a critical component in our return to pre-pandemic normalcy,” the college’s website states. “The health and wellness of our community remains a top priority, and this decision is guided by local and state public health agencies, our medical experts, and our COVID-19 Response Team. Vaccines are safe and effective, reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to the virus. Viral spread will be significantly limited once the majority of the population is vaccinated.”

Wellesley College

“All students will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before arriving on campus for the fall of 2021,” Wellesley College President Paula A. Johnson wrote in a letter to the college community on May 5.

“As public health data has shown, COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective at significantly reducing the spread of the disease and, critically, of lessening the possibility of acute illness and hospitalization for those who contract it,” the letter continued. “The key to successful repopulation of our campus this fall will be the vaccination of nearly everyone in our community. The herd immunity that vaccines will help us reach is a vital component of our plan for a safe return to a more normal campus life.”

Bentley University

“Comprehensive vaccination is an important part of ensuring a safe community and is the best way to guarantee our plans for a near-normal environment with full in-person learning, at-capacity residence halls, and in-person student engagement opportunities and interactive events,” Paul Condrin, interim president of Bentley University wrote in a May 17 letter to the Bentley Community.

“As we prepare for a fully open and operational 2021-2022 academic year, consistent with state and federal guidance, all undergraduate and graduate students who will be on campus this fall will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the fall 2021 semester,” the letter stated.

Clark University

Clark University President David Fithian wrote in a May 20 letter to the campus community that “after careful consultation with public health experts, our own Health Advisory Board, and the Clark Reopening Committee, among others, … Clark students, faculty, and staff members will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than July 15 (or earlier for those planning to live or work on campus this summer).”

“As previously announced, Clark’s plans for fall semester are to resume “normal” operations as nearly as possible,” the letter stated. “To achieve this goal, I believe we must aim for the fullest possible degree of immunity among us all.”

Emmanuel College

“As a critical next step in ensuring the safety and vibrancy of the Emmanuel educational experience, the College today announces that the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for all students enrolled in classes for the 2021-2022 academic year,” Sister Janet Eisner, president of Emmanuel, wrote in a May 3 letter to students.

“It is our expectation that all students returning to campus in the fall will be fully vaccinated by Wednesday, August 4, 2021,” the letter continued.

University of Vermont

The University of Vermont on Friday said it would require students arriving on campus this fall to be vaccinated for COVID-19, reversing course from June, when the university said it would wait for the vaccines to receive permanent approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Today, the UVM Board of Trustees Executive Committee unanimously endorsed our plan to require COVID-19 vaccination for all students enrolled this fall,” the university said in a message on its website on Friday. “We considered many factors while making this decision, but none was more important than the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the Burlington community.”

Previous Globe coverage was used in this report.

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.