According to the registrar’s office, the first day of fall classes will be September 9, not September 7 as the academic calendar initially stated. 

According to an email sent out by University Registrar Barry Kane this evening, the first day of classes for the fall 2021 semester will be Thursday, September 9. Previously, classes were scheduled to begin on September 7, which coincides with Rosh Hashanah. 

Mr. Kane acknowledged in the email that the university usually holds classes during religious holidays. However, this year will be an exception, allowing all students who are coming to campus for the first time to experience the start of the year together. 

Update on May 18 at 4:20 pm:
Barnard College announced that the same academic calendar changes released by Registrar Kane yesterday will also affect the start date of Barnard’s courses. Barnard Registrar Jennifer Simmons added that this change to the start of the academic year will not have an impact on move-in or orientation scheduling. First-year students are scheduled to move in on Sunday, August 29, and upperclass students are scheduled to move in on either August 30 or August 31 depending on their class year. Additionally, this year’s Barnard orientation is also being called “[re]orientation,” as the programs are open for all students to reorient them back to campus, according to Simmons’ email.

The full text of the Columbia and Barnard emails are included below.

Email sent to students from Barnard College Registrar Jennifer Simmons on Tuesaday, May 18 at 3:44 pm:

Dear Barnard Community,

Below is a message sent by University Registrar, Barry Kane, about changes to the Fall 2021 academic calendar, specifically the first day of classes and fall registration dates. These same changes will be in effect for Barnard classes, so that students and faculty across the University can begin the academic year together.

We look forward to welcoming our entire community back to campus. Please know that the change of the start of the academic year will not have an impact on our move-in or Orientation scheduling. Move-in for first-year students is scheduled for Sunday, August 29, and move-in for upperclass students will be either August 30 or August 31 depending on one’s class year. All students will be invited to participate in activities designed to [re]orient and welcome students to the Barnard community. Extended programming for Barnard students will be offered between Labor Day and the first day of classes.

Please email with any questions you may have about the academic calendar. Move-in and [re]orientation information will be shared a little later in the summer with students, and we encourage students to wait for additional information before arranging travel. Questions related to move-in can be directed to and questions related to Orientation can be directed to


Jennifer Simmons


Email sent to students from University Registrar Barry Kane on Monday, May 17 at 8:26 pm:

Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff:

I write today to inform you of a change to the academic calendar for the fall 2021 semester. 

The first day of classes for the fall semester will be Thursday, September 9, 2021. This is a change from the previously published calendar, with classes now starting two days later than originally scheduled. The fall Change of Program period will, therefore, start on Thursday, September 9th, and extend to Tuesday, September 21st. Students will have the usual nine days in which to select their classes and determine their final fall schedules.

This year, the return to campus carries particular significance and is unique in that we will have many students entering campus for the first time. We are implementing this calendar adjustment from our strong desire that all Columbia students can begin this post-COVID academic year together, both within their entering cohorts and as a University community. 

If instruction were to begin immediately following Labor Day, many in our University community would be absent in celebration of Rosh Hashanah. Holding classes on a religious holiday is quite normative at Columbia. This decision thus represents an exception to ensure that this most welcome return will include everyone. 

Outside of this change, the academic calendar proceeds as originally planned. I am certainly available with any questions you might have as is the entire team in the Office of the University Registrar. You may write to or call our offices at: 212-854-4400.

I look forward to seeing you all on campus.


Barry S. Kane

Associate Vice President and University Registrar

Columbia University in the City of New York

College Walk via Bwog archives