The Doctoral Conferment Ceremony
The Conferment Ceremony is a degree conferment celebration for those who have received PhDs 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. Uppsala residents recognise the day because cannon salutes are fired in the morning and during the Conferment Ceremony.
The first Conferment Ceremony at Uppsala University was held in the year 1600. At the solemn ceremony, the new PhDs receive their symbols of honour: a ring, a diploma, and a hat or laurel wreath. Those who received PhDs fifty years earlier are invited to the Spring Conferment Ceremony as so-called jubilee doctors. At the Winter Conferment Ceremony, honorary doctorates are awarded 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.
Upcoming conferment ceremonies:
- 31 January 2020
- 29 May 2020
- 29 January 2021
- 28 May 2021
Registration for the Conferment Ceremony
Have you defended your thesis in a public disputation at Uppsala University? Have you satisfactorily completed all course work and other equivalent requirements for a doctoral degree? Do you want to get your degree conferred upon you during the University's stately Conferment Ceremony? The registration for the Spring Conferment Ceremony opens on 1 March and closes on 1 April. For the Winter Conferment Ceremony the registration opens on 1 October and closes on 1 November.
Brief Conferment Ceremony Vocabulary
Absens meaning absent. 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 doctors on the basis of completed examinations within a faculty have received their credentials, they are saluted collectively with three shots.
The conferment language is either Swedish or Latin, as the promoter chooses.
Conferment resister is the term for a PhD recipient who refuses to take part in the Conferment Ceremony. S/he is not included in the conferment program. The act is entirely voluntary.
Diploma, originally a written confirmation of the rights accruing to those who are being awarded their PhD degrees, nowadays given to everyone having a degree conferred. It is always composed in Latin, rolled and sealed, enclosed in a turned wooden box with a ribbon in the colors of the relevant faculty.
Doctor on the basis of completed examinations is the gist of the official Swedish term for Latin doctor iuvenis, pl doctores iuvenes, which is also often used.
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 given out at the Conferment Ceremony in the so-called higher faculties, that is, theology, law, medicine, and pharmacy.
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 originates from 1839, when the first honorary Master’s degree, as it was then called, was conferred at Uppsala.
Jubilee doctor is a title earned by individuals who received their doctoral degrees fifty years earlier at Uppsala University. The first jubilee doctors were awarded at the Faculty of Medicine in 1804.
Laurel wreath. The laurel was the tree of Apollo. The wreath is bestowed by the promoters at the so-called philosophical faculties. The tradition of crowning promovendi with laurel is only observed in Sweden and Finland.
The podium in the conferment context 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, the impression is that, from that moment, s/he is endowed with the right to be an academic teacher.
Promotor is the Latin term used in Swedish for the person conferring the doctoral degree; s/he is appointed by the relevant faculty and must be a professor and hold a doctorate.
Promovendus/a is the Latin term used in Swedish for the person about to be ‘promoted’, as it is termed in Swedish, that is, to have a doctoral degree conferred, pl promovendi; promotus/a is the term used for the person after the degree has been conferred, pl 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 purchase a ring.
Ringing of the bell commences at 07:00 and lasts for ten minutes on Conferment days (twice a year).
Promovendi (those to receive degrees)
Formal attire, tie and tails with white tie and black vest, full-length dress (at Uppsala black dresses are not obligatory).
If a national/folk costume is worn, it must be of the formal variety.
Guests and spectators
Participants in the procession wear formal attire (tie and tails with white tie and black vest; full-length dress) with decorations (major).
For spectators not participating in the procession there is no dress code.
Formal attire for all (see above) but white vest.