George Mason University honored the largest and most diverse graduating class in its history with a virtual Celebration of the Class of 2020 on May 22.
The online event recognized the graduates whose final semesters were impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and was livestreamed on GMU-TV. The celebration included remarks from Mason Interim President Anne Holton, a graduating student, and a special congratulatory message from Stacey Abrams, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, author, entrepreneur and voting rights advocate. In addition, the Green Machine performed.
As part of the event, each school or college had its own slide show, including personalized slides for graduates.
In surveys, the 2020 graduates noted a strong preference for a future ceremony at EagleBank Arena. With a traditional Spring Commencement not possible because of the pandemic, the virtual event was a way to acknowledge students’ achievements until an in-person ceremony can be safely held on campus. The virtual program will last about 20 minutes.
Holton has frequently noted how proud and impressed she has been by the resilience of the 2020 graduates, who pushed through the unexpected challenge to complete their degrees. The university shifted 5,200 courses online and extended the academic calendar so classes could be completed.
The 2020 graduating class is projected to include 9,719 degree earners and 744 certificate earners, from 83 countries and 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam and foreign military installations.
A projected 50.5% of the 6,018 bachelor’s degree earners are part of minority populations—an all-time Mason high—and 32% of undergraduates say they will be a first-generation graduate in their family.
The graduating class reflects Mason’s standing as the largest producer of tech talent in the state. Thirty-five percent of the 2020 undergraduate degree earners are in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and 24% of the 3,528 master’s and doctorate degree earners are in STEM fields.
The top undergraduate majors are criminology, law and society; information technology; psychology; information systems and operations management; and computer science.
The top degree programs for the 3,222 master’s degree earners are curriculum and instruction, special education, data analytics engineering, education leadership, and business administration—the same five and same order as last year.
Of the 306 doctoral degrees to be awarded, the top five PhDs choices are education, psychology, economics, conflict analysis and resolution, and public policy.
The university will also award 173 law degrees.