Graduation and Congregations

Graduation - Important Information

IMPORTANT: Please read the information below first if you would like to receive your degree at a congregation.

2024 Congregations - Dates are also listed at the bottom of the page, however some may still subject to change and some cohorts/degrees may not be eligible to attend certain dates, so please do not make any travel plans before receiving confirmation from us after the deadline passes. 

Further dates and deadlines will be published here once known.

If you have any questions please contact the Praelector's Secretary. Once the registration deadline passes, the Praelector's Secretary will be in touch to confirm registration.

Next Congregation Dates:

Wednesday 26 June 2024 - Undergraduate finalists have been emailed on 8 April with invitations to register via CamSIS - this is now closed to registrations. Please read down the page below for more information on this graduation for Undergraduate finalists only.

Thursday 18 July 2024 - The deadline has passed to register for this congregation. Congregation emails with information about the day will be sent at the end of June.

Caps on Graduation Numbers

The University aims to accommodate as many graduands and their guests as possible during each Congregation, but there are practical limitations. Degree Congregations take place in the historic Senate-House, where members of the University have graduated since the Eighteenth Century, but although repeated ceremonies are held across each day, each one can only hold so many people and, to provide the best experience, ceremonies should take place during daylight. Please confirm with the Praelector's Secretary that you have a place booked at a ceremony before making any other arrangements. If there is no space at a particular ceremony, there will be later occasions and Degree Congregations take place across the year.  

Certificates and transcripts

Transcripts for degrees awarded based on assessments modified as a result of COVID-19 will include brief wording explaining that the candidate undertook alternative assessments, and provide a link to a fuller explanation of the nature of the assessment, hosted on the CamData website.

A subscription service to Digitary allows you to share documents such as your official transcript on-line with other organisations such as employers or other educational institutions. Degree certificates are also available digitally via your CamSIS Self-Service or Digitary. Further information is available here https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/graduation-and-what-next/degree-certificates-and-transcripts/academic-transcripts

Jet Photographic offers St John’s College specific certificate frames. These are available direct from the photographer at https://jetphotographic.com/showphoto.php?id=470050813. You may wish to purchase these now ahead of receiving your certificate in upcoming weeks.

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.

For FAQ's regarding things such as tickets, guests, photography at the Senate House, please visit the University's main page.
 

What happens on the day?

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

A congregation is normally held in the morning, for around a 10am start. Graduands are expected to be in College prior to this ready to be briefed by the Praelector and lined up in Second Court (or in the Old Music Room in the case of wet weather). Graduands will go together, led by the Praelector, to the Senate House. Guests will be expected to make their own way to the Senate House a bit earlier in order to be seated before the start - this time will also be circulated via email to Graduands.

 

Trinitarian Formula and your options

You will find information about the ceremony and the Latin that is typically read out on the University's site. The standard formula is the Trinitarian Latin, although sometimes this is replaced with a non-religious formula for all.

When you register for a congregation, you can choose to omit the Trinitarian Formula completely, or have it replaced with an 'in nomine Dei' option (please see their site for more information on what this means), this request will be sent on to the Bedells. It is not possible to choose both options, so if you do not choose either of these, then the full religious formula may be used. 

Lunch

All Graduands are invited to lunch with the Fellows at 12:15. This may be held in the Combination Room or in Hall, depending on the size of the congregation. If this is in the Combination Room due to smaller numbers, then Sherry will be served from 12:00 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 which have different rules); 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.

For MA and General Admission, a group photograph is normally taken, with a photographer available in the afternoon for individual portraits.

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.

Important Safety Information: To ensure that your visit to the University is as safe as possible, enhanced security procedures are currently being implemented. 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 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. A phone can be brought in if it can be concealed as a means of payment for items within the Senate House.

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. The timetable is confirmed around 2 weeks before a congregation, and final timings circulated to Graduands then.

Car parking is available at Playing Fields Car Park for all congregations, space permitting.

 

Congregation Dates and Deadlines 2023-2024

Please scroll to the bottom of the page to find the dates and deadlines for congregations - these may be subject to change due to the pandemic and the most recent congregation information will appear at the top of the page.

BChir Information

Those admitted to the BChir in June 2023 have one year in order to take their MB at a congregation. Please note that the May 2024 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 2024.

MA Information

*Those wishing to take the MA in 2024 are particularly encouraged where possible to do so at the May 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.

 

 

How to Register

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

For those receiving degrees for the first time: Please register via your CamSIS Self-Service.

If you wish to put your name forward to receive your degree at any Congregation (other than General Admission) as a celebrant who has already received their degree in absence during the pandemic, please check the top of the page to see what dates you will be eligible to attend. You will need to read the Congregations Information which includes academic dress information, and then register for the congregation by emailing praelectorssecretary@joh.cam.ac.uk with the following information:

Surname: 

First Name: 

Pronunciation of Name for the Senate House speakers (if applicable):

Degree (conferral/celebration?): 

Date of Congregation applying for: 

Do you need to opt out of the religious formula/request an in nominei Dei version?:

Number of guests in the Senate House (max. 2): 

Attending lunch?:

Number of guests to lunch (max. 2): Any dietary requirements?: 

To help keep your contact details up-to-date, please also access your Extended Self-Service account on CamSIS. You can register and access ESS here

It is vital that you update your contact details. 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, and certificates if being conferred in absence.
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 Praelectors Secretary.
 

You will then receive the confirmation email 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 Praelectors Secretary.

Academical Dress

The Praelector is obligated to emphasize to Graduands the rules for dress for those taking degrees In Person.

If you choose to graduate in person at the Senate-House, you are required to wear the following Cambridge academical dress at the ceremony:

  • Undergraduates and affiliated students: undergraduate gown of your college and the hood of the highest degree that you are about to receive.
  • Postgraduate candidates: either the gown and hood of your highest existing Cambridge degree or, if not already a Cambridge graduate, a BA (if under age 24) or MA (if age 24 or over) status gown and the hood of the highest degree you are about to take.
  • Candidates for degrees by Incorporation or the MA under Statute B.II.2: the gown and hood of the degree that you are about to receive.

 

Academical Dress - Buying or Hiring

If you choose to graduate in person you may hire or buy your academical dress. The following are two Cambridge suppliers who offer this: 

Ede & Ravenscroft
70-72 Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RJ
Website: www.gownhire.co.uk 
Purchase Enquiries: 01223 350048 (shop) or 01223 861854

Ryder & Amies
22 King’s Parade, Cambridge CB2 1SP
Website: www.ryderamies.co.uk
Email: sales@ryderamies.co.uk

You may also wish to look at https://churchillgowns.com/, which focuses on creating sustainable gowns

What to wear at a Congregation ceremony

As graduation is a formal occasion an appropriate standard of dress is expected and the dress code is strictly enforced at ceremonies. Should you not observe it, you may not be permitted to graduate on the day of your chosen ceremony. A female University Constable will check your dress on arrival at the Senate-House and will adjust if required. 

If after reading the website you have any further questions, please contact the Praelector's Secretary who will advise you further about the dress code.

Dress Option One

  • A dinner jacket or black, very dark grey or very dark blue lounge suit. These must be dark enough not to contrast obviously with a black gown.
  • A plain, long-sleeved, collared, white shirt.
  • Formal black shoes. Sandals, trainers, open-toed shoes, slingbacks (heeled or flat) or boots are not permitted.
  • Unpatterned black or very dark grey socks. Unpatterned black, nearly-black, or natural coloured hosiery.
  • White bow-tie and bands must be worn.

 

Dress Option Two

  • A black, very dark grey or very dark blue skirt suit or trouser suit. A dark skirt can be worn without a jacket, or a dark, long-sleeved dress can also be worn without a jacket. These must be dark enough not to contrast obviously with a black gown.
  • A plain, long-sleeved, white shirt or blouse (unless a long-sleeved dress is worn).
  • Formal black shoes. Sandals, trainers, open-toed shoes, slingbacks (heeled or flat) or boots are not permitted.
  • Unpatterned black, nearly-black, or natural coloured hosiery.
  • A white bow-tie and bands may be worn (optional) but if they are worn they must be worn with a properly collared white shirt.  If a white bow-tie and bands are worn with trousers they must be worn with a matching jacket.

 

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hair accessories and jewellery permitted? 

Yes. Jewellery and hair accessories can be worn at the ceremony but these should not be conspicuous and should befit the occasion. The ceremony itself is a formal event and as such dress should be reflective of this. 

How do I pin a hood onto a gown?

Please see the following guide for assistance on how to do this (here)

Can I wear a cap (also known as a mortarboard)? 

Yes, if you want to. The cap (mortarboard) is optional for Cambridge graduands. If you do decide to wear one on the day then you will be asked to take this off and carry it in your left hand once inside the Senate-House so please bear this in mind when making your decision. 

Can I wear national dress and/or the colours of my country or a uniform? 

If you want to wear national dress you will need to contact the Praelector's Secretary as dispensation may be required to allow this. 

General Admission

General Admission 2024

The next date for General Admission is Wednesday 26 June 2024 (for the 2023/24 cohort only). Undergraduate finalists have been emailed on 8 April with invitations to register via CamSIS, the deadline to register is Monday 29 April 2024

Only the following degrees are awarded at General Admission:

  • Master of Engineering: M.Eng.
  • Master of Natural Science: M.Sci.
  • Master of Mathematics: M.Math. (not including MAST)
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine: Vet.M.B.
  • Bachelor of Arts: BA
  • Bachelor of Theology for the Ministry: B.Th.

 

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 normally remain in College until 10:00 on the Thursday after General Admission. 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 have been emailed this link with their invites.

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 two 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 two guests, to attend a buffet lunch in First Court from 13:30.

Beginning of Easter Term

First week of Easter Term: Information Sheets sent to Graduands

By 29 April 2024: Graduands to have completed online application

 

Early June

10 - 14 June: Ticket Collection – Senate House and Lunch tickets may be collected from Student Services (F2a Chapel Court - 08:30-17:00 weekdays) 

 

Tuesday (the night before General Admission)

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

 

Wednesday (General Admission)

09:30 prompt (Graduands should be dressed for the ceremony) - Group Graduation Photograph (Paddock, outside New Court)

10:30: Graduation Day Service – College Chapel 

11:25: Procession assembles for lining-up – Second Court

12:15: Guests for the First Session should arrive at the Senate House

12:30: Congregation at the Senate House (First Session)

12:45: Guests for the Second Session should arrive at the Senate House

13:00: Congregation at the Senate House (Second Session)

13:30: General Admission Lunch (First Court)

13:30-16:00: Graduation Group Photograph - viewing and purchasing (First Court (or Old Music Room if wet))

13:30-16:00: Photographers will be in College (New Court Cloisters) to take individual and family portraits

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

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

 

Thursday

By 10:00: Graduands must vacate their rooms

 

MA Degree Ceremony

A Bachelor of Arts may be admitted to Master of Arts not less than six years from the end of his or her first term of residence, provided that a supplicat for the latter degree may only be entered after the former degree has been conferred.

This removes the previous requirement for the B.A. Degree to be held for two years before the M.A. can be conferred.

Someone who qualified for the BA but has never had it conferred cannot be entered for the MA, even if the necessary time has passed since the end of their first term of residence, unless and until the BA has been conferred on them.

Therefore, those that meet the above requirements, and matriculated in Michaelmas Term 2018, will be invited via email in January 2025 to a ceremony in May 2025.

Affiliated Students

Affiliated students are deemed to have ‘kept’ 3 terms before they officially begin their first term of residence in Cambridge. Their MA can be conferred from 5 years after their matriculation as long as the BA has been conferred.

 

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 email the Praelector's Secretary at any time if you have a question that you need answering. 

Dates and deadlines

28/06/2024 : 10:00
Deadline to register for the Wednesday 26 June 2024 General Admission Congregation
29/04/2024
18/07/2024 : 10:00
Deadline to register for the Thursday 18 July 2024 Congregation (this may close earlier if capacity is reached)
23/06/2024
25/10/2024 : 10:00
Deadline to register for the Friday 25 October 2024 Congregation (this may close earlier if capacity is reached)
06/10/2024
30/11/2024 : 10:00
Deadline to register for the Saturday 30 November 2024 Congregation (this may close earlier if capacity is reached)
03/11/2024
31/01/2025 : 14:00
Deadline to register for the Friday 31 January 2024 Congregation in absence
05/01/2025
View more events and deadlines