Vaccine Requirements for Academic Year 2021-2022

Cooper Union Students, Faculty, and Staff

I hope this message finds you well and safe. When I last wrote to you about our plans to return to an in-person semester, I shared that there would be more information forthcoming about vaccines and other protocols. Today, we can confirm more of that information for you.

The health and safety of our Cooper community and our commitment to our educational mission have been and will continue to be our primary focus. With that in mind, The Cooper Union will require all students, faculty, and staff, except for those with a medical or religious exemption, to be vaccinated with an FDA-authorized or World Health Organization (WHO)-listed vaccine. In mid-July 2021, we will have a confidential, health regulatory compliant system in place for students, faculty, and staff to upload their vaccination documentation. Proof of vaccination must be uploaded by Aug. 19, 2021.

As part of our Cooper Cares Pandemic Response, we have made this decision to fully protect the health and safety of our Cooper community when bringing everyone back to campus. The decision was informed by regular meetings with city and state health officials and by the guidance and recommendations from the CDC. On June 4, 2021, the CDC released guidance specifically for colleges and universities, which allows for full-capacity, in-person learning with fewest restrictions on campus for colleges with fully vaccinated populations.

We have also been regularly meeting with, monitoring, and studying the activities of other independent colleges and universities in the city, state, and around the country. In addition, the feedback that we have received from most of our students, faculty, and staff is the desire to return to campus in the fall and to be able to engage in in-person learning, teaching, and other campus activities. By requiring everyone on our campus to be vaccinated, except for those with medical and religious exemptions, we believe we can offer that experience, while keeping everyone safe.

We will continue to monitor safety concerns with new COVID-19 variants threatening the health of individuals around the globe and are prepared to adjust our policies should it be necessary. We believe that requiring vaccines is a critical step to keeping our campus community safe. We know you may have questions and have provided information in response to several anticipated questions below. If you have questions that are not answered below, please send your questions to We will regularly update with additional questions and answers as they arise.

I want to thank the members of the Health & Safety Committee for their incredibly hard and thoughtful work on this, particularly as they have given us the benefit of a range of perspectives across the institution. We all look forward to seeing everyone in the fall and to engaging with one another in person once again.

Warm regards,


Are booster vaccinations required?

In our desire to keep our campus safe, Cooper Union will require that all students, faculty, and staff who are eligible (excluding those with approved exemptions) to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccination by January 28, 2022. Whether you have already received the booster, or you will be doing so between now and January 28, you are required to upload your current vaccine/booster status on the CUSafe App. To assist students, faculty, and staff who are unable to schedule a booster appointment at an independent location, the College will have booster days on campus. Anyone wanting to receive their booster on campus, will be required to pre-register for a booster appointment. However, we urge you not to hesitate to book an appointment elsewhere through the city site, the state site, or other resources.  The vaccine shot is free regardless of where you register for it. Information on how to upload vaccine information and on the booster days will be shared via Cooper email. For more details visit here.

Where can I get a vaccination?

The United States government is providing vaccines for free for all individuals who qualify to receive a vaccine with or without health insurance, regardless of immigration status. Vaccines are now available for anyone over the age of 12 (at this time, only Pfizer has EU approval for ages 12-17) at vaccine hubs, local pharmacies, and other distribution centers. The Cooper Union will be scheduling a vaccine day on our campus for anyone who might be interested in receiving a vaccine through our third-party testing vendor. Cooper will provide up to four hours of paid time off per vaccine appointment for all faculty and staff.

How do I show proof that I have been vaccinated?

Cooper is creating a portal to enable students, faculty, and staff to securely and confidentially upload proof of a completed vaccination. Once the portal is ready for uploads, there will be a campus communication that will explain the process for registering your vaccination, which will allow you access to campus.

What steps must I take if I have a religious or medical exemption?

To request a medical exemption, individuals will need to submit proof of a medical condition that is a contraindication to the vaccination and the date the qualifying medical condition exemption ends (if applicable). This documentation must be signed by a medical provider. The medical exemption request:

  • May be granted if a licensed physician, licensed nurse practitioner, or licensed midwife (caring for a pregnant person) certifies in writing that such vaccination may be detrimental to the individual’s health or is otherwise medically contraindicated.
  • Must include a statement indicating which vaccine may be detrimental, including a detailed explanation of the valid medical basis for such determination, and the length of time for which it may be detrimental.
  • Should be based on the most recent guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
  • Will be granted on a temporary basis up to the point when the condition supporting an exemption is expected to resolve or expire; if related to a permanent condition, will be granted for no more than one calendar year.
  • Must be resubmitted annually.

Religious exemption requests:

  • May be granted if a student, faculty, staff, or a minor student’s parent or guardian certifies in writing that they hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to such immunization.
  • Must describe with specificity the religious principles that guide the objection to such immunization.
  • Will not be granted when opposition to such immunization is scientific, political, philosophical, or otherwise secular rather than religious in nature.
  • May require additional supporting documentation.
  • Must be submitted for renewal on an annual basis.

All medical and religious exemption requests must be submitted on the CUSafe Vaccine Portal (which will be operational by mid-July). Students, faculty, and staff requesting exemptions will be notified by email if their exemption has been approved.

Individuals who are approved for vaccine exemptions will be required to follow Cooper’s protocols for unvaccinated individuals, as informed by CDC recommendations and state and local requirements (including wearing face coverings and physically distancing, as may be required by applicable CDC guidance). Currently, these protocols include weekly COVID-19 testing and other safety protocols outlined by public health guidelines and Cooper policies.

What are the requirements for international students?

Cooper Union will accept FDA-authorized or WHO-listed vaccines. If one is available to you now in your home country, we highly urge you to get vaccinated and upload proof of your vaccine by no later than Aug. 19, 2021.

What if I am an international student and don't have access to any COVID-19 vaccines prior to arriving on campus?

Residential Students: If you are moving into Residence Hall, you will be expected to get your first vaccine dose within 24 hours of your move-in and, depending on which vaccine you receive, that you get any required follow-up doses as soon as you become eligible.

Students Who Live Off-Campus: If you are able, you should try to arrive in New York City early so that you can be fully vaccinated before the start of the semester. You should get your first dose upon arrival. Depending on which vaccine you receive, you must get any required follow-up doses as soon as you become eligible.

Quarantine Requirements: Students who are not fully vaccinated but have received their first Pfizer or Moderna dose or single J&J dose prior to the start of class will not be required to quarantine 24 hours.  However, they will be required to provide weekly COVID-19 negative testing results and follow other public health guidelines (including wearing face coverings and physically distancing, as may be required by applicable CDC guidance) until they are fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second vaccine dose of Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks after the one dose requirement of the J&J vaccine).

Should there be New York State Travel Quarantine/Restrictions for any country outside the United States, Cooper Union will follow the mandates in place at that time.  


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.