From Academic Kids

Missing image
Academic procession during the University of Canterbury graduation ceremony.

Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the associated ceremony. In the United States, it is also used to refer to the advancement from a primary or secondary school level. Many colleges have different traditions associated with the graduation ceremony, the most well known probably being throwing mortarboards in the air.


United States

Graduation ceremonies in the United States are often orchestrated procedures involving a march of students onto the stage, the reading of speeches, the giving of diplomas, and an official moment when the students are declared graduated, also called the commencement exercise. The march is often set to music, usually Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1. In United States colleges and universities the speakers will include the salutatorian, an alumnus of the institution, possibly a famous speaker not associated with the institution, and the valedictorian. The giving of diplomas is usually the longest portion of the ceremony: One by one the graduates come forward as their names and major/minor announced. Each of them is given a diploma by an academic administrator or official such as the dean. It is very common for graduates not to receive their actual diploma at the ceremony but instead a certificate indicating that they participated in the ceremony or a booklet to hold the diploma in. At the high school level this allows teachers to withhold diplomas from students who are unruly during the ceremony, and at the college level this allows students who need an extra quarter or semester to participate in the official ceremony with their classmates.

Graduation speech

A graduation speech, in the U.S., is a public speech given by a student or alumnus of a university or university college to a graduating class and their guests.

United Kingdom

Many university graduation ceremonies in the United Kingdom begin with a procession of academics, wearing academic dress. This procession is accompanied by music, and a ceremonial mace is often carried. However Pomp and Circumstance is not played, since this is a patriotic hymn. After this, an official reads out the names of the graduands one by one, organised by class of degree or by subject. When their names are called, the graduands walk across the stage to shake hands with a senior official, often the university's nominal chancellor or the more important vice-chancellor, and receive their degree certificate. Graduands usually wear the academic dress of the degree they are receiving. There are some exceptions to this rule; for example serving members of the armed forces may wear their military uniform. Some of the older universities may hold their graduation ceremonies in Latin, whilst member institutions of the University of Wales hold their graduation ceremonies almost entirely in the Welsh language, even though barely any students understand either of these languages.

University of Cambridge

At the University of Cambridge, however, each graduation is a separate act of the university's governing body, the Regent House, and must be voted on as with any other act. First an official will propose (in Latin) that the graduands be admitted to the relevant degree; a vote is then taken, although in practice only one vote will be cast, and that in favour. Next, the graduands come forward in groups of four and kneel before the Vice-Chancellor, who wears a special graduation cape, place their hands within his (a relic of the mediaeval pledge of fealty), and are told in Latin that they are admitted to their degrees. (In practice the head of the a college, often that of the graduands themselves, always deputises for the Vice-Chancellor.) The graduands always wear the academic dress that they were entitled to before graduating: for example, most students becoming Bachelors of Arts wear undergraduate gowns.

Other countries


See also



Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools