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Graduation and Congregations

Graduation and Congregations

What is a Congregation?

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.

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.

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.

What happens on the day of Congregation?

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 at Playing Fields Car Park for all congregations (except April 2018), space permitting.

 
Congregation Dates and Deadlines 2017-18
Date of Congregation Closing date for applications
24 February 2018, 2.00pm 29 January 2018
24 March 2018, 11.00am 26 February 2018
28 April 2018, 11.00am 26 March 2018
19 May 2018, 10.00am (MA Congregation) 23 April 2018
27 June 2018, 10.00am (General Admission) 23 April 2018
20 July 2018, 10.00am 18 June 2018

*Those wishing to take the MA in 2018 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.

How to Register

 
 
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. 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.

General Admission

Although Congregations are held at intervals throughout the year, the June/July Congregations are set aside for what is called General Admission, at which most undergraduates proceed to their first Degrees at the end of their final term.

Only the following degrees can be conferred at General Admission in June: B.Th., B.A., Vet.M.B., M.Eng with B.A., M.Sci with B.A. or M.Math. with B.A. Please note that the LL.M. and M.C.L. degrees cannot be conferred then, neither can the M.Eng, M.Sci and M.Math. without the B.A. taken at the same time, nor can the M.B. degree.

Those eligible to attend should receive an information sheet from the Praelector at the very beginning of Easter Term. If you have not received the information by the end of Week One please contact Student Services. Please note you will not be able to register for the congregation any earlier.

The main Graduation page gives general information about Congregations and matters relating to the presentation of graduands for their degrees, including information about Academical Dress.

What to wear

If you have your own gown (from Matriculation) you can wear this at General Admission. We would, however, recommend that you have it dry cleaned. The alternative is to hire a gown for the day, as well as the appropriate hood for the degree that you will be receiving. Please check the Academical Dress page for more information. Please note that it is important that you order your gowns and hoods well in advance.

Accommodation

All graduands may remain in College until 10am on Thursday 29 June. A limited amount of bed and breakfast accommodation is available for parents in College rooms the night prior and/or the night of General Admissions. Rooms are allocated on a first come first served basis, limited to two guests per student. Graduands should first log in to this website and then complete the online General Admission Accommodation Request form (available in Easter Term once students are sent the information sheet - see below for the timetable).

Timetable of events

The timetable below is only provisional at this stage but is unlikely to change significantly. We can normally only guarantee to allocate three guest tickets per graduand for friends and family to attend the Congregation at the Senate House as we are only allocated a limited number of Senate House tickets. Graduands will be invited, along with three guests, to attend a buffet lunch in First Court from 1.30pm.

Beginning of Easter Term

Information Sheets sent to Graduands

First week of Easter Term

Online Applications Completed

By 24 April

Early June

Ticket collection – Senate House and Lunch tickets from Student Services (F2a Chapel Court)

5 - 9 June (08:30-18:00 Weekdays)

Tuesday (the night before General Admission)

Tutor’s Reception: for Graduands and their guests - locations tbc Usually early evening

Wednesday (General Admission)

Graduation Photograph: Paddock outside New Court

(copies available to purchase in College - Old Music Room)

09:30 prompt – graduands should be dressed for the ceremony

Graduation Day Service – College Chapel

10:30
Procession assembles – Second Court 11:25

Congregation at the Senate House 

Guests for the First Session should arrive 

Guests for the Second Session should arrive

12:30

12:15

12:15

General Admission Lunch in First Court 

The Combination Room will be open after lunch from 14:15 - 15:15 and items of College silver will be on exhibition.

The Upper Library will be open for viewing with a display of treasures from the collections from 14:15 - 15:15 NB entry via E Staircase Second Court.

13:30

Photographs: Viewing and purchase of graduation group photo – Old Music Room

Photographers will be in College (usually New Court) to take individual and family portraits

13:30 - 16:00

Thursday

Vacate Rooms: Graduands must vacate their rooms By 10:00

 

MA Degree Ceremony

Six years and one term after matriculating, a Bachelor of Arts is entitled to take his or her Master of Arts degree, either in person or in absence, provided that two years have elapsed since the BA degree was awarded. So, from January 2018 those who matriculated in October 2011 and graduated with the BA degree prior to December 2015 will be eligible.

The Student Services Officer, on behalf of the Praelector, will email all those who become eligible each year in January or February and invite them to attend the Congregation in May held in the Senate House. Although the degree may be conferred at any Congregation, the May Congregation is traditionally the occasion when Johnians return to Cambridge for the event. The MA Dinner in Hall, organised by the Development Office (all queries should be directed to them), is arranged on the Friday evening prior to the ceremony on the Saturday. There will be a buffet lunch on the Saturday for those taking their MA degree in person to which graduands may bring one guest (we regret that we cannot allow you to bring any extra guests due to limited space). A maximum of three guests per graduand are invited to attend the Ceremony and admission to the Senate House will only be given to those with a valid ticket.

How to register for the MA Congregation
*It will be possible to register for the 19 May 2018 congregation from January 2018*

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 the MA Congregation 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: https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/new-students/manage-your-student-information/student-record/camsis/ess. 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.

Once you have logged in, you will be able to directly register for a congregation yourself. 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 338 699) 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.

Please note:

  • You are reminded that the College does not allow those with outstanding College bills to proceed to a degree and it is your responsibility to ensure that any outstanding debts are paid 5 days prior to the Congregation.
  • The dates and timings of Congregations can occasionally be subject to change by the University. It is therefore advisable that you wait until you receive confirmation of your place at a Congregation or contact the Praelector's Secretary before making travel or accommodation arrangements.

The main Graduation page gives general information about Congregations and matters relating to the presentation of graduands for their degrees.

What to wear

Please check the Academical Dress web page for more information. Please note that it is important that you order your gowns and hoods well in advance. If you are still unsure after visiting this page please check the FAQ page.

Please note you will not be allowed to take any belongings or bags into the Senate House. You are therefore advised to leave your belongings with your guests before arriving at the Fisher Building.

Accommodation

As the ceremony will be taking place in Full Term, we are not able to offer accommodation but can provide a list of local hotels and bed and breakfasts on request.

Timetable of events

Please note that timings of the actual ceremony are likely to be subject to delay with little notice, due to the large numbers involved.  We advise that you be aware of such possible delays when making your arrangements.

January/February

Invitation email sent to eligible alumni

April

Application form deadline - Mid-April (see Congregation Dates on main Congregation page)

Friday (night before MA Ceremony)

MA Dinner in Hall - 19:30 prompt (TBC) - Please see invitation email sent by Development Office

Saturday (MA Ceremony)

Car Parking: Available on College Playing Fields - Cars left at owners risk, will be open from 7am - 5pm on Saturday

Registration and procession assembles in Hall – 9.00am prompt, Graduands should be dressed ready for the ceremony

Procession assembles outside for group photograph outside in 1st Court - 9.30am

Procession leaves for the Senate House outside in 1st Court - 10.25

Congregation at the Senate House - Graduands (led by the Praelector) and guests should arrive at the Senate House by 10.50am.

MA Buffet Lunch in 1st Court -  Striclty one guest permitted per Graduand, at 12:45pm

 

Entitlements and privileges
  • The MA degree confers on you the University right of Membership of the Senate, which enables you, for example, to borrow books from the University Library.
  • As a member of the College of more than six years' standing (five in the case of Affiliated Students), whether you take your MA degree or not, you now have the privilege of dining up to three times a year at the Fellows' Table, at College expense. If you wish to exercise your dining privileges, please contact the Steward's Secretary (tel: 01223 338686).
  • Every seven or eight years you will be invited to a Johnian Dinner in College, along with others in your year of admission to St John's, and two or three other year groups.
  • You will continue to receive copies of The Eagle, Johnian News and Johnian eNews free of charge to help you keep in touch with the College and your contemporaries. Please ensure you keep the College informed of any change in your contact details.
  • Please see this information from the Careers Service.

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 Degree:  Graduate 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 is part of an ancient and unique tradition, strictly enforced by its officers. If after reading the website you have any further questions, please contact the Praelector's Secretary who will advise you further about the day.

Graduation FAQs

Many people have questions about graduation and congregation arrangements. You can find some of the most common questions and answers here.

You are also welcome to drop in to Student Services at any time if you have a question that you need answering. The office can be found on the ground floor of F Staircase, Chapel Court.

Dates and deadlines

  1. Deadline 29/01/2018

  2. Deadline 26/02/2018

  3. Deadline 26/03/2018