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Graduation and Congregations

There are separate arrangements for General Admission and the MA Ceremony. A list of frequently asked questions is also available.

Applications for any ceremony will not be accepted or processed if they are received after the deadline, see ‘Saturday Congregation dates and deadlines’ below.

Students with outstanding bills cannot proceed to a degree and will be contacted by Student Services before the ceremony to settle this. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that debts to the College are cleared, in order to proceed to a degree.

As well as other degrees, if you are eligible to take your MASt or MMath degree you can do so either in person, or in absence, at a degree ceremony by registering for a congregation using CamSIS' Extended Self-Service. See ‘How to Register for a Congregation’ below.

Administrative contacts:
General AdmissionStudent Services
All other CongregationsStephanie Kingsnorth (Student Services Officer)

Please note that you will not receive confirmation from the College if you have registered for a congregation until after the deadline has passed for others to register, so please do not request confirmation unless you haven't heard from us a week after the deadline has passed.

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Academical Dress »

The Praelector is under the necessity of stressing to Graduands the rules for dress for those taking degrees In Person.

Dress Option One

Suit

black/very dark grey/very dark blue (not brown) lounge suit or dinner jacket without adornments. These must be dark enough not to contrast obviously with a black gown.

Shirt

plain, collared and white (long sleeves)

Collar

wing collars may be worn, but are not required

Tie

white bow tie with white 'bands' must be worn

Socks

unpatterned black/very dark grey

Shoes

formal, black (not boots, not sandals)

Dress Option Two

Suit or Skirt

black/very dark grey/very dark blue trouser or skirt suit, or a dark skirt without a jacket, or a dark long-sleeved dress. These must be dark enough not to contrast obviously with a black gown.

Blouse/shirt

plain, white (long sleeves unless a long-sleeved dress is worn)

Stockings/tights

unpatterned black/nearly black or natural coloured

Shoes

formal, black (not boots, not sandals)

Tie/Bands

white bow-tie and bands may be worn (optional) but only with a properly collared white shirt.

A black cassock may be substituted for a dark suit, skirt or dress in either Dress One or Two, but it must be worn with either a white bow-tie and bands or a clerical collar and bands.

The rules also exclude conspicuous jewellery and hair-grips.  Exaggerated hair styles or colouring are inappropriate.  Handbags should not be carried.

Please note that the national dress rules have been tightened up considerably. Now, national dress, uniforms etc. are generally allowed only if the national dress is black, white and grey, and if the national dress is what the graduand would usually wear at other formal University occasions. Exceptions are made if there are religious requirements. Please note that for sleeves, long ones (that come down further than the gown sleeve) are preferred. If you wish to wear national dress it is essential that you contact the Student Services Officer at least 3 weeks before the Congregation, as permission will need to be sought from the Proctor.

Headdress

The square cap, or 'mortarboard', is optional for graduands at Cambridge. If you do decide to wear one on the day, you should take it off and carry it in your left hand inside the Senate-House.

Gown and hood

  • Graduands already holding a Cambridge Degree:  Gown and hood of the highest Cambridge Degree the Graduand already holds.

For those conferred to two degrees at once (such as the BA & MMath) and are then going to be conferred to an MA for example, you would need to wear the gown and hood of the highest degree you hold (so in this case the MMath gown and hood).

  • Graduands not already holding a Cambridge DegreeGraduate Students in this category wear a BA Status gown or (if granted MA Status) an MA Status gown - if you are 24 years or over you will need to wear an MA status gown if you do not hold a Cambridge degree. Undergraduates proceeding to the BA degree wear an undergraduate gown. All Graduands not already holding a Cambridge degree wear the hood of the degree to which they are about to proceed.
  • For incorporations and MA under Statute B III 6 (you will be aware if this applies to you):  Gown and hood of the degree to which the Graduand is about to proceed.

For more information about academical dress please visit this page: http://www.gradunion.cam.ac.uk/facilities/gown-shop/gown-guide

'Bands', Gown and Hood can, of course, be hired locally.  The following tailors may be able to hire academical dress to graduands:

  • Ede & Ravenscroft, 71-72 Trumpington Street
  • Ryder & Amies, 22 King’s Parade

Contact details for the above listed companies can be found on the University website: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/degrees/dress/ 

The University’s practices for graduation are archaic, eccentric and strictly enforced by its officers.  Anyone with any doubts about the procedures should contact the Student Services Officer to check the details well in advance to avoid embarrassment on the day.

Congregation dates and deadlines - 2017/18 »

Date of CongregationClosing date for applications
20 May 2017, 10.00am (MA Congregation)24 April 2017
28 June 2017, 10.00am (General Admission)24 April 2017
21 July 2017, 10.00am25 June 2017
21 October 2017, 11.00am18 September 2017
25 November 2017, 2.00pm30 October 2017
27 January 2018, 2.00pm1 January 2018
24 February 2018, 2.00pm29 January 2018
24 March 2018, 11.00am26 February 2018
28 April 2018, 11.00am26 March 2018
19 May 2018, 10.00am (MA Congregation)30 April 2018
27 June 2018, 10.00am (General Admission)23 April 2018
20 July 2018, 10.00am18 June 2018

*Those wishing to take the MA in 2017 are particularly encouraged where possible to do so at this congregation; candidates will not normally be presented for other degrees on this occasion. You are advised not to make travel arrangements for this, or any ceremony, until you have received confirmation of your place after the deadline has passed for others to apply.

*Those admitted to the BChir in June 2017 have one year in order to take their MB at a congregation. Please note that the May 2018 ceremony is the last occasion at which the MB can be conferred in person. If the MB is not conferred by then it will be automatically conferred in June 2018.

Degree Certificates and Transcripts »

Original certificates for degrees are issued without charge to all those proceeding to degrees. You will receive this on the day of the congregation (unless you are being conferred in absentia, in which case the College will post this out to you approximately two weeks after the ceremony).

A fee of £15 is charged for each copy of a degree certificate. The University offers an alternative design certificate bearing the arms of the University printed in colour. This is available to order at a charge of £40. Order forms are issued at graduation along with original certificates. For further details, contact the University Student Registry office.

All graduands receive a formal University transcript free of charge after graduation. This will list the papers per Tripos that were sat, the class mark awarded for that Tripos exam, individual marks by paper, rank and subject content where available. They will be sent out via the College, so please ensure that your contact details are kept up-to-date.

Guests »

Each Graduand is allowed up to a maximum of three guest tickets for the ceremony at the Senate House. Graduands and two guests are invited to join the Praelector for lunch (except for the MA ceremony, when due to limited space we can only invite graduands and one guest). Please note that no requests will be accepted for extra guests for the lunch.

How to register for a Congregation »

Please read all the following information carefully to avoid missing anything important!

If you wish to put your name forward to receive your degree at any Congregation (other than General Admission) you will need to read the Congregations Information which includes academic dress information, and then register for the congregation by accessing your Extended Self-Service account on CamSIS. You can register and access ESS here: http://www.camgrad.cam.ac.uk/offices//students/ess/index.html. Once you have logged in, you will be able to directly register for a congregation yourself.

Note: Current students can apply via their normal self-service and alumni, who matriculated Michaelmas 1980 onwards, once registered can apply via Extended Self-Service

You might not be able to register for a congregation that is a few months away and it will need to be done closer to the time (you can aim to do this two months before the congregation).

It is vital that you update your contact details before submitting your application. You will need to update the following information:

E-Mail Address: You will most likely be contacted at some point before the ceremony (make sure your preferred one is marked as such)
Phone Number: In case of emergency (make sure your preferred one is marked as such)
Address: Please update your mailing address, which we will send correspondence to at any point up until the time of the ceremony,  including your tickets and confirmation letter.
Name: Please check the spelling of your name carefully, as this will appear on your degree certificate. If it is incorrect please change this and notify the Student Services Officer.

You will then receive the confirmation letter and any required tickets by post after the deadline has passed for the congregation you are registering for (usually three weeks before the ceremony). If you do not receive such a letter by two weeks prior to the Congregation, please contact the Student Services Officer. 

Please note that applications received after the College's deadline date will not be accepted.

Each Congregation generally follows the same pattern although the precise timing of events depends on the actual numbers of graduands to be presented by each College. Please contact the Student Services Officer (praelector@joh.cam.ac.uk; 01223 746959) if you have any queries.

Congregation dates may be subject to change. It is advisable not to make travel arrangements until you have received confirmation of your place at a ceremony from the Praelector.

What happens on the day »

Important Safety Information: To ensure that your visit to the University is as safe as possible, enhanced security procedures are currently being implemented. At this time, we will not allow rucksacks, holdalls, shopping bags or bags larger than 35cm x 25cm into the Senate House or the surrounding grounds. If you bring them to the Congregation/Honorary Degree Ceremony, you will be asked to make alternative arrangements for their storage or may be denied entry to the event. If you need to keep your bag with you, you must seek assistance from a Proctor/Constable who will check contents prior to entry to the Senate House. Please allow sufficient time for the additional delays this may cause.

Please note that these timings may be subject to change, you will be emailed with any last-minute changes so please make sure your email address is up-to-date on CamSIS' Extended Self-Service.

When the Congregation begins at 10.00am, guests should be in the Senate House by 9.50am, and the Praelector will need to see graduands taking their degrees in person, dressed for the ceremony, at 9.00am, in the Old Music Room.

When the Congregation begins at 11.00am, guests should be in the Senate House by 10.50am, and the Praelector will need to see graduands taking their degrees in person, dressed for the ceremony, at 10.00am, in the Old Music Room. 

When the congregation begins at 2.00pm, graduands should call on the Praelector, dressed for the ceremony, in the Old Music Room, at 11.45am and guests should be in their seats in the Senate House by 1.50pm.

All Graduands are invited to lunch with the Fellows at 12.30pm. Sherry will be served from 12.15pm in the Green Room (which adjoins the Lobby at the upper end of the Hall; entrance is from B Staircase in Second Court).  It is only possible for two guests per graduand to attend the Lunch (except for MA and General Admission); it is unfortunately not possible to include more than two without changing its character as the normal lunch for Fellows - please see Standing Order I.1.1.2 for more information.

Lunch will be a sit-down affair, with the exception of May and July which are normally buffets.

Please note that the May Congregation is a much larger event as this is when most newly eligible alumni return to receive their MA degrees. The day is organised differently and any non-MA graduands wishing to attend this Congregation should be aware that this particular congregation will be mostly those accepting an MA only.

Graduands are presented College by College in order of the date of foundation of the College and in sessions of several Colleges at a time.

Car parking is available in Cripps for all congregations (except MA Ceremony), space permitting.

What is a Congregation? »

Students or alumni who are eligible to receive their degrees may do so at Congregations of the Regent House held on Saturdays at regular intervals throughout the year. The College Praelector is responsible for presenting students at Congregations when they receive their degrees.

The Congregation ceremony is one of the oldest traditions in the University. The conferment of each Degree is still an act of the whole University, approved by "Grace of the Regent House", that is by a resolution of the governing body. Graduands are presented one by one to the Vice-Chancellor of the University or a deputy, in the presence of the Proctors who are the elected representatives of the Regent House. Although Congregations are held throughout the year, the June Congregations are set aside for what is called “General Admission” to Degrees, at which most undergraduates proceed to their first Degrees at the end of their final term.

You cannot use your degree title until you have been conferred to your degree at a congregation, so it is the student's responsibility to make sure they register for a congregation, either in person or in absentia.

Who is eligible to graduate? »

Any member of St John’s who has fulfilled the appropriate examination and residence requirements may proceed to their degree at Congregation. The College will automatically contact those students who it expects to present for their 'first' degrees at General Admission early in the Easter Term. Students will need to confirm explicitly their intention to graduate before names are submitted to the University. The Board of Graduate Studies informs graduate students when they have been approved for their degrees and asks them to contact the College to make the necessary arrangements to have their degrees conferred at Congregation.

The College will not put forward anyone for graduation who has not settled their College and University bills.