The Doctoral Degree Conferment Ceremony
The Conferment Ceremony is a degree conferment celebration for those who have received doctorates during the year. It is held twice every year: the Winter Conferment Ceremony in late January and the Spring Conferment Ceremony in late May/early June.
Registration for the conferment ceremony
Have you publicly defended your doctoral thesis at Uppsala University? Have you satisfactorily completed all course work and other similar requirements for a doctoral degree? Would you like to have your degree conferred upon you at the University's grand Conferment Ceremony? Registration for the Spring Conferment Ceremony opens on 1 March and closes on 1 April. For the Winter Conferment Ceremony, registration opens on 1 October and closes on 1 November.
The conferment ceremony
The conferment ceremony is a solemn event held in the University’s Grand Auditorium. Each part of the ceremony is well-orchestrated and rehearsed in advance. Every faculty appoints a promotor who hands over the symbols of honour to the new doctors – a diploma and a doctoral hat or laurel wreath. Several of the promotors hold their part of the ceremony in Latin.
There is also a third symbol of honour: the doctoral ring. Unlike the hat, the new doctors do not receive the ring during the ceremony, but they have the right to buy a ring for themselves if they like.
Every year, the University’s faculties award honorary doctorates to distinguished individuals from Sweden and abroad. The honorary doctors receive all three symbols of honour: a hat or laurel wreath, a diploma and a ring.
The festivities continue into the evening, with a banquet in the Hall of State at Uppsala Castle. Nearly 700 people usually take part in the Conferment Banquet – the new PhDs, jubilee doctors, and honorary doctors and their relatives, invited honorary guests, and teachers and other staff.
Cannon salute and bell-ringing
The people of Uppsala recognise the day of the conferment ceremony from the sound of cannons fired at 07:00 in the morning and later at intervals between 12:50 and 15:00 in the afternoon. Precisely when the University started honouring new doctorates with a cannon salute is not known, but we do know that it has been done since at least the early 1800s.
Brief conferment ceremony glossary
Absens means absence. Some jubilee doctors are unable to take part in the conferment ceremony but are nevertheless celebrated in their absence.
Cannon salutes are fired as follows. For promoters and jubilee doctors double salutes; for honorary doctors single salutes. When the doctors on the basis of completed examinations within a particular faculty have received their credentials, they are saluted collectively with three shots.
Either Swedish or Latin, as the promoter chooses.
A PhD recipient who refuses to take part in the conferment ceremony. They are not included in the conferment programme. The ceremony is entirely voluntary.
Originally a written confirmation of the rights accruing to those upon whom doctoral degrees were conferred, nowadays given to all doctoral graduates. It is always composed in Latin, rolled and sealed, enclosed in a turned wooden box with a ribbon in the colours of the relevant faculty.
‘Doctor on the basis of completed examinations’ is the gist of the official Swedish term for the Latin doctor iuvenis, which is also often used.
The doctoral hat symbolises freedom but also power. It is black and pleated. The theology hat has a black bow. The other faculties feature a gold buckle, encasing the faculty symbol. The hat is presented at the conferment ceremony in the ‘higher faculties’, that is, theology, law, medicine and pharmacy.
An honorary doctorate or doctorate honoris causa is a distinction that the respective faculties bestow upon individuals they wish to honor and incorporate into their research community. The tradition dates from 1839, when the first honorary Master’s degree, as it was then called, was conferred at Uppsala.
A title earned by individuals who received their doctoral degrees fifty years earlier at Uppsala University. The first jubilee doctors were recognised at the Faculty of Medicine in 1804.
The laurel was the tree of Apollo. The wreath is bestowed by the promoters in the ‘philosophical faculties’. The tradition of crowning promovendi with laurel is only observed in Sweden and Finland.
The podium in the conferment ceremony is called ‘Parnassus’, since it is not merely a lectern but also symbolises the sacred mountain of the Greek gods. When a provendus/provenda is guided by the promotor across Parnassus, it symbolises that, from that moment, they are endowed with the right to be an academic teacher.
The Latin term used in Swedish for the person conferring the doctoral degree; they are appointed by the relevant faculty and must be a professor and hold a doctorate.
The Latin term used in Swedish for the person (male or female respectively) about to be ‘promoted’, as it is termed in Swedish, that is, to have a doctoral degree conferred (plural promovendi). The term used for the person after the degree has been conferred is promotus/promota (plural promoti).
The ring is of gold and symbolises fidelity to science/scholarship; the various faculties have different symbols to adorn the ring. At the ceremony it is bestowed only on the honorary doctors; doctors on the basis of completed examinations decide for themselves whether they wish to buy a ring.
Ringing of the cathedral bell
The ringing of the cathedral bell ‘Storan’ begins at 08:00 and lasts for ten minutes on conferment days (twice a year).