Information for Undergraduate Students and Families

Last updated: July 29, 2020 at 6:11 PM

Skyline Residence Hall

The fall 2020 semester at Brandeis will look different from past fall semesters. Yet the university’s mission and values — everything that makes Brandeis such a special place to learn and grow — remain.

Our highest priority will be protecting the health and safety of all our community members. Students will pursue rigorous academic studies and enjoy life-enhancing social connections. And the Brandeisian commitment to equity, inclusivity and accessibility will be as strong as ever.

We are excited to welcome our students back to campus this fall. Although the university will have to make some modifications to residence halls and set aside housing for potential isolation and quarantine needs, incoming first-year undergraduates as well as returning undergraduates who already have housing contracts will have the opportunity to live in on-campus housing during the fall semester.

The university will offer a wide array of in-person, online and combination (both in-person and online) courses that maintain the standard of excellence that defines undergraduate education at Brandeis. Flexible options and extra support will allow students to enjoy a stimulating, challenging and well-rounded college experience.

Please keep in mind, however, that our plans for the fall semester will succeed only if our entire community adheres to stringent social-solidarity practices. All of us — students, faculty and staff — must follow health and safety protocols to the letter, without fail to keep one another safe. We share a responsibility to reduce the probability of COVID-19 transmission within our community.

Academic Calendar

The fall semester will begin on Wednesday, Aug. 26 (a week earlier than usual). Classes will conclude by Thursday, Dec. 3. Following an extended Thanksgiving break (from Monday, Nov. 23, through Friday, Nov. 27), all coursework — including the last week of instruction, study days and final exams — will be conducted remotely. By eliminating the post-Thanksgiving return to campus, this redesigned calendar will help reduce the risk of an on-campus coronavirus outbreak.

Academic Calendar Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Teaching and Instruction

Brandeis will follow a hybrid learning model. Classes will be conducted either in person, remotely or through a combination of both methods. The class schedule will clearly identify which approach a class will follow.

Any students who have health concerns or face travel restrictions will be able to register for remote instruction instead of in-person classes without needing to seek permission or accommodations. Although students living on or near campus will be encouraged to register for in-person or partially in-person classes, they may also register for remote-instruction courses.

A suite of courses will be specially tailored for first-year students who will not be able to arrive on campus for the fall 2020 semester.

The instruction options offered during the semester will be highly adaptable to the needs of students, whatever their individual circumstances might be.

Teaching and Instruction FAQs

On-Campus Living

Brandeis will be able to provide on-campus residential housing primarily in single rooms for more than 2,400 students in the fall semester. Safety protocols will be in place and will be strictly enforced to help members of the Brandeis community stay healthy

On-Campus Living FAQs

Student Support and Social Connections

A range of new or expanded services will help all students thrive throughout the semester. 

During Orientation, first-year students were placed into cohorts of approximately a dozen students each. This virtual connection will transition into an in-person bond as students arrive on campus for the start of classes. The cohorts, which will form the basis for academic support, student programming and other forms of engagement, will remain in place throughout the fall and spring semesters.

An optional cohort program for sophomores, juniors and seniors will also be offered. Groups of 10-15 students, organized by major, will be mentored by alumni and student leaders.

A Faculty Ambassador initiative will connect faculty members with first-year students, creating ties that last throughout a student’s college years and beyond, and offering a range of academic and resource support. 

Student organizations will be guided in the creation of both in-person and online programming, enabling the participation of all students, wherever they might be or whatever their safety concerns.

Student Support and Social Connections FAQs

International Students

Because we anticipate many international students will experience visa or travel delays in advance of the fall semester, those first-year international students who are not able to arrive for the fall semester will be able to live on campus starting with the spring 2021 semester.

All international students who live and study remotely during the fall semester will receive special academic and personal support.

In addition, first-year international students will have access to the suite of remote courses being developed for first-year students who can’t come to campus until the spring 2021 semester. These courses will allow students to fulfill some of their Brandeis Core requirements online and then seamlessly continue their studies when they arrive on campus in the spring. More information about registering for these courses will be forthcoming soon.

Additional information about the fall semester for international students is available on the International Students and Scholars Office website.


All international and domestic travel related to university programs or study has been suspended.

In addition, we strongly discourage students from traveling internationally for personal reasons. If you must undertake such travel, we request that you fill out this form. The information you provide will be used to advise you upon your return to campus. Under current Massachusetts guidelines, you will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. 

Although domestic travel for personal reasons is allowed, we strongly urge you to use extreme caution and judgment before deciding to travel and during your travels.

Continuity, Flexibility, Opportunity

Our plans for student living and learning during the upcoming semester are designed, first and foremost, to help the Brandeis community remain safe. As a result, they depend upon a high degree of compliance — on the part of every community member — with health and safety protocols.

Students, regardless of their individual circumstances, will enjoy a great deal of flexibility in their studies. Brandeis will provide exceptional academic opportunities. Students will connect with one another, with faculty and with the world. These Brandeis traditions will continue as before, though in some cases we will practice them in new ways.

None of us knows what course the virus will take over the coming months. Every member of our resilient community will be ready to pivot to address new concerns should they unexpectedly arise.

Despite all the unavoidable uncertainty, we are committed to ensuring that students’ instructional, research and engagement opportunities during the fall — and beyond — remain as rich and robust as ever.