August 3, 2020: Fall 2020 Semester Update

By Laura A. Baldwin | August 4, 2020
Dear University Community,

Throughout the year, we have adapted and focused on exercising caution to protect all of our community members, especially the most vulnerable among us. Arcadia University’s actions across our domestic and international operations since the emergence of COVID-19 have focused on using the most current information and best practices to protect our community’s health and safety and provide a quality educational experience.  

After careful consideration, Arcadia has decided to move all courses this fall semester entirely online and suspend on-campus housing for our students for the fall semester. We will be offering some in-person experiences for a few graduate programs (primarily in our College of Health Sciences). 

Recognizing the importance an in-person, vibrant campus community has for students, we are working hard toward a January reopening of on-campus living and classes, while closely monitoring all health and safety trends. 

The decision to have fully online courses this fall is based on ongoing challenges with COVID-19 mitigation and our commitment to ethical decision-making, and includes the following considerations:

  • While we had high hopes until very recently, the lack of availability of reliable and timely testing means that we cannot depend on testing as part of our on-campus strategy to mitigate risk;
  • Without the advantages of timely and continuous testing, any campus outbreak of COVID-19 could quickly stress our ability to isolate students. With the seasonal flu also expected this fall, the combination of the two would impact the institution’s ability to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our community;
  • There have been almost 1.5 million new cases nationwide in the past month, and health experts are predicting a rise in infection and hospitalization rates in many places throughout the country, thus presenting us with a more likely increase of positive COVID-19 cases in our region in the near future;
  • Appropriate notice for staff, faculty, students, and their families to adequately prepare for the start of the semester.

Academic Update
We share this disappointment with our students and community members. Fortunately, our faculty and staff have worked all summer on All-Modes Ready preparation in case we needed to seamlessly transition to a fully online delivery. After the urgency of shifting courses in the spring, Arcadia invested in innovative course redesigns, operational shifts, and new technology applications to create a high-quality student experience in whatever modalities are available to us, including fully online. 

Student Experience
Arcadia values how essential meaningful and engaging student life is to the University experience, and our Student Affairs team has created fun and engaging ways for students to stay connected both outside of the classroom and in an online environment. In addition to recently welcoming our new Knights into the Arcadia family through our online Summer Orientation, we have designed new opportunities for students to engage and socialize digitally. Regardless of where you are, we are committed to opportunities for you to get involved.

Housing and Meal Plan Fees
The University will process a credit for housing and meal plan fees. These credits will apply automatically to student accounts; any remaining credit will carry forward to the next academic semester, Spring 2021. For students who are graduating or transferring, these refunds will be processed automatically. Continuing students seeking a refund rather than a credit, or resident students with any financial concerns, should contact One-Stop Shop (215-517-2339,

We will work with students who currently live on campus to assist with finding alternative housing arrangements. Student Affairs staff will be in touch with these individuals soon with additional information.

Tuition and Fees
Our entire campus community has been mobilized to provide high-quality student experiences and programs this coming academic year, regardless of the mode of delivery. Therefore, tuition and fees will remain the same for 2020-21, as academic credit, learning, and a wide range of non-academic services will be provided. We will review financial aid packages in light of the economic impact COVID-19 might be having on students and their families. Arcadia University works hard to meet the economic needs of its students through financial aid, and we remain committed to providing access and opportunity.

All Athletics facilities remain closed until further notice. When it is safe to resume on-campus operations, Athletics will inform the University community on its plans for reopening. An update regarding specific campus offices, hours, and operations will be shared with the University community shortly and posted on  

Arcadia Abroad
The London Center offers an enticing array of courses taught by our Arcadia in London faculty.  The Fall 2020 program combines online and in-person opportunities in two six-week teaching blocks. Block A will be online, and students select two courses from a menu of courses that includes a virtual internship option. Block B will be offered in London (conditions permitting), and students will again choose two courses, as well as participate in a week of excursions in London and Southern England following completion of coursework.

In addition to online courses, Arcadia students may enhance their credentials and gain valuable professional experience through our Intern Philly program this fall. Students can choose from a wide range of internship opportunities in business, finance, advertising, public relations, health-related fields, and much more. The Fall 2020 program will combine a virtual internship (4 credits) with the opportunity to pursue three courses offered through the Arcadia in London schedule of courses. 

For more information on both these opportunities, contact Scott Terry and/or Ashley Knueppel in the Arcadia Office of Study Away.

We are hosting a webinar for our students and their families this Thursday, Aug. 6 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. with members of our senior leadership team. There, we’ll talk more about what our community members may expect for the fall 2020 semester. 

Each decision we make as a University has the wellbeing of our community members in mind. We want to provide our students and family members with as much time as possible to lessen any potential disruption. We will continue to plan and adjust accordingly to the best possible scenario for our University community. 

In many ways this year the world, and especially our nation, has been tested. Our University community has remained ArcadiaStrong throughout the most challenging of years, and I have full confidence that we will continue to do so throughout the fall semester. Each of us has played a part in that collective strength, and I continue to look forward to how your talent, expertise, and commitment leads to an extraordinary fall semester for our students. 


Ajay Nair, Ph.D.