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The Doctoral Degree Conferment Ceremony

The ceremonial highlight of the academic year

Doctoral students walking towards the cathedral to participate in the doctoral degree conferment ceremony

The doctoral degree conferment ceremony is the faculties’ most important academic celebration. The doctoral graduates who completed their research studies and successfully defended their theses at Lund University during the past year receive their degrees at a solemn ceremony in Lund cathedral. The event usually takes place on the last Friday in May. Lund University has been holding doctoral degree conferment ceremonies since 1670. The ceremony is known as “promotion” in Swedish, from the Latin verb promovere, meaning to advance or to promote.

The doctoral degree conferment ceremony is a traditional rite of passage originally serving to promote doctoral graduates from being students to becoming entitled to teach in academia themselves. This is marked by the doctoral graduates being led by a presenter over the symbolic Parnassus to receive the insignia of their newly acquired status. The insignia are the honorary symbols of the doctoral degree. Some of them disappeared a long time ago, such as the book and the sword. The hat, the laurel wreath, the ring and the diploma remain.

The doctoral degree conferment ceremony is also an occasion for the faculties to honour highly deserving researchers from other universities and other citizens, by appointing them as honorary doctors, or doctor honoris causa. The honorary doctors are people who have achieved something of major importance for the University or for society and whom the faculties wish to recognise and tie to their research community. Although often academics from other universities, honorary doctors can equally well be from outside academia.

As a tribute to previous generations, the ceremony also celebrates those who earned their doctoral degrees fifty years previously by bestowing upon them the title of jubilee doctor, or doctor jubilaris.

The ceremony

At precisely 12:00 the doors of the main university building are thrown open to the procession in which the doctoral graduands, the promovendi, led by the Chief of Protocol and escorted by ceremonial officers, make their way through the Lundagård park to the cathedral.

The ceremony starts with the vice-chancellor’s speech, followed by the degree conferment in what were previously considered the higher faculties, i.e. the faculties of Theology, Law and Medicine. Before the award of the degrees in the faculties historically included in the Faculty of Philosophy, the laurel wreaths are brought in by the wreath-bearers, little girls representing the muses who arrive at the cathedral in a horse-drawn carriage.

For the purposes of the ceremony, the faculties are arranged according to the number that existed in the University’s early years. There were four faculties at that time – Theology, Law, Medicine and Philosophy. The original Faculty of Philosophy, i.e. the current faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences, Science and the School of Economics and Management, still mark their affinity by sharing a presenter. There are now nine faculties at Lund University, since the addition of the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts in Malmö.

Girl gets her laurel wreath at graduation ceremony

The presenter is the person who hands the promovendi – the graduating doctors – their honours in the form of the insignia (hat or wreath, ring and diploma). The presenters are doctors themselves and are considered to be part of a succession. An important element in the ceremony is the marking of this succession by the crowning with a wreath or hat and the words “Ego NN, ipse iuris doctor…” (“I NN, myself a doctor of law …”).

At the ceremony, the insignia are bestowed with the following Latin formulations:

Salve!
 (Greetings!)
Accipe pileum, insigne libertatis! 
(Receive this hat, symbol of freedom!)
Ecce anulus, sincerae fidei pignus!
 (See this ring, pledge of true faith!)
Ecce diploma, doctrinae virtutisque testimonium! (See this diploma, testimony to learning and merit!)
Vale! Praeclarissime Doctor! (Fare well, most brilliant doctor!)

Instead of a hat, the doctors from the Faculty of Philosophy receive a laurel wreath (Accipe lauream!). The ritual varies somewhat between different types of doctors and is shorter for those graduating after completing exams, as opposed to honorary and jubilee doctors.

The most important part of the ceremony is when the doctoral graduand, the promovendus, is led over the podium, the Parnassus, by the presenter. This symbolises the right of the graduate to practise academic teaching, from this moment on. The podium symbolizes the seat of the ancient Greek gods, Mount Parnassus.

The degree conferment ceremony at Lund University includes a cannon salute as a tribute to the doctors. The Wende artillery regiment assists the University by firing two shots for presenters and jubilee doctors, one shot for the honorary doctors and three shots for all the new doctors within a faculty.

Once the degrees have been conferred, one of the new doctors holds a solemn speech, an oration to the University.

The bishop concludes the ceremony with a prayer in Latin.

The ceremony usually lasts approximately 3 hours. Apart from the vice-chancellor’s introductory speech and the doctors’ oration to the University which are given in Swedish, the ceremony is held in Latin.

Tickets for the audience are primarily reserved for the doctoral graduates’ families, but the general public is welcome to attend, space permitting.

The degree conferment ceremonial dinner

The celebration continues during the evening with a formal dinner in the Great Hall of the Academic Society. Close to 500 people usually attend the degree conferment dinner – the new doctoral graduates, the jubilee and honorary doctors with their family members, invited honorary guests and lecturers.

Page Manager:

Contact information

Carin Brenner
Chief of Protocol

Charlotta Sokulski Bateld
Deputy Chief of Protocol

Annica Blomberg
Deputy Chief of Protocol
overmarskalk [at] rektor [dot] lu [dot] se
+46(0)46 222 7006

Visiting address
Main university building room 205,
Paradisgatan 2, Lund

Postal address
Chief of Protocol
Lund University
Box 117, 221 00 Lund

Invoicing address
Chief of Protocol
Lund University
Box 188, 221 00 Lund

Upcoming doctoral conferment ceremonies

  • 25 May 2018
  • 24 May 2019