Students graduating
Greeting Officials of the University of Oxford as they pass
Copyright © Rob Judges Photography. This image comes from Oxford University Images - All rights reserved.

Degree ceremonies

Academic degrees date from the second half of the twelfth century. The present ceremony retains all the essential features of its historic predecessors, with the proceedings still conducted in Latin.

Booking your Degree Ceremony

University of Oxford degrees are conferred at degree ceremonies, held in the Sheldonian Theatre. You may graduate in person or in absence, either straight after you've finished your degree, or many years later. If you choose to graduate in person, you will be presented by your college, hall or society.

  • Undergraduate or Taught Master's students: you will automatically receive an email in Michaelmas Term of your final year of study with instructions regarding when and how to book your degree ceremony. If you have not received an email at this time, please contact your college for further information. They will be able to advise you on any delay to the invites or forward any issue onto the Degree Ceremonies team for further investigation.
  • Research students: you will automatically receive an email with instructions on how to book your degree ceremony once you have been granted leave to supplicate. If you do not receive an invitation at this time, contact the Degree Ceremonies team.
  • Conferring your degree in absentia: Students can select to have their degrees conferred in absentia on Self Service when invited to register for a ceremony. If you are a member of the University of Oxford’s alumni and would like to have your degree conferred in absentia, please contact your college who will arrange for your degree to be conferred at the next ceremony.

Your college will communicate with you regarding arrival, gowning, catering arrangements and any charges you may be required to pay.

Managing your Degree Ceremony Booking

Please note that colleges will present graduands only on certain dates. If you completed your degree a number of years ago and haven’t yet graduated, or if you are a candidate for the Oxford MA, please contact your college to confirm which dates will be available to you.

Important: Degree ceremony bookings close 30 days prior to the ceremony date. Please note that cancellation – or changing to another ceremony – is not permitted within 60 days of a booked ceremony.

If you decide to withdraw from the ceremony during this time, your degree will be conferred at the ceremony in absentia and you will not be able to attend a future date. Your place may be offered to graduands on the waiting list for that ceremony.

If you are, due to exceptional circumstances, required to withdraw from the degree ceremony within the 60-day non-cancellation period your college may, on your behalf, seek permission from the Vice-Chancellor and Proctors (via the Degree Conferral Office) to exceptionally permit you to apply for a place at another ceremony. Exceptional circumstances might include, but are not limited to: students or their guests with serious illness, or other comparable serious and unavoidable difficulties. Exceptional circumstances do not include work commitments, volunteering commitments, holidays, visa issues (where visas applications have been left too late to be processed in time for the ceremony), the unavailability of guests or similar. You will be asked to provide evidence of these circumstances.

Guidance on cancellation due to exceptional circumstances

In addition to the above extenuating circumstances, the following have been added as a temporary measure and may be changed in line with University and government policies:

a) The (re)introduction of, or changes to, self-isolation or quarantine requirements for students travelling to the UK or returning to their home country, after the ceremony booking was made.

The student should submit government evidence to their college when applying for this exemption.

b) Travel issues (such as last-minute flight cancellations) relating to the pandemic for students.

Students should provide a copy of the cancellation from their airline to their college when applying for this exemption.

Please note: requests on the grounds of a) and b) cannot be granted after the ceremony has taken place.

c) If you submit your request within five days of your ceremony, your degree will automatically be conferred in absentia, such as with COVID-19.

d) If you test positive for COVID-19 in the days leading up to your ceremony, you must follow the University guidance and stay away from on-site activity for five days. After that, you should not return to on-site activity until any fever has subsided. You may be asked to submit evidence of a positive COVID-19 test in these instances.

You should only ask to rearrange your ceremony in these exceptional circumstances, as vacant places cannot be filled at short notice and rearrangement will result in gaps in ceremonies and unnecessary delays for other students waiting to book a ceremony. University and college staff are working hard to make extra ceremonies available, so that students (and their friends and family) can celebrate their degree day in safety, as soon as possible.

On the day of the ceremony, you are advised to allow yourself plenty of time to get to Oxford.

Dates and times of remaining degree ceremonies in 2022

  • Friday 04 November 2022 (10:30, 13:30)
  • Saturday 05 November 2022 (10:30, 13:30)
  • Saturday 12 November 2022 (10:30, 13:30)

Dates and times of confirmed degree ceremonies in 2023

  • Saturday 21 January 2023 (in absence only)
  • Saturday 25 February 2023 (10:30, 13:30)
  • Saturday 04 March 2023 (10:30, 13:30)
  • Saturday 06 May 2023 (10:30, 13:30, 16:15)
  • Saturday 13 May 2023 (10:30, 13:30, 16:15)
  • Saturday 20 May 2023 (10:30, 13:30, 16:15)
  • Saturday 15 July 2023 (10:30; 13:30)
  • Tuesday 25 July 2023 (10:30; 13:30)
  • Friday 28 July 2023 (10:30; 13:30)
  • Saturday 29 July 2023 (10:30; 13:30; 16:15)
  • Saturday 5 August 2023 (10:30; 13:30; 16:15)
  • Friday 22 September 2023 (10:30; 13:30)
  • Saturday 23 September 2023 (10:30; 13:30; 16:15)
  • Friday 3 November 2023 (10:30; 13:30)
  • Saturday 4 November 2023 (10:30; 13:30)
  • Saturday 11 November 2023 (10:30; 13:30)

On the day: useful links for guests

Please click here for the digital Degree Ceremony Brochure which provides a detailed explanation of the ceremony, complete with a translation of the Latin Script.

For friends and family who do not have a guest ticket, the link for live streaming of the ceremony will be available here. Just click on the correct date and time of your ceremony; the live stream will start a few minutes before the ceremony begins.

Following the ceremony, a copy of the recording will be available to purchase as a digital download. Please visit Degree Ceremony Filming for more information.

Degree ceremony FAQs

I have already left the University, but have not yet had a degree ceremony due to the pandemic. When will I be able to attend a ceremony?

There will be places at the ceremonies taking place between January and June 2022 for students who have not yet attended a ceremony; as well as at the additional ceremonies expected to take place from July 2022.

Colleges are in the process of writing to those graduands who they can accommodate in the 2022 ceremonies.
 
If you are waiting for a ceremony, and you do not hear from your college by Friday 17 December, it is likely you will be contacted once arrangements start being made for the ceremonies taking place from July 2022.
 
Graduands who need to have their degrees conferred urgently can always do so by having their names added to existing ceremonies, to attend in absentia. Please contact your college if you wish to do this.
 
If you have already registered to have your degree conferred in absentia, this process will continue as normal – so no further action is needed. If you need to have your degree conferred urgently then please contact your college to request this to be done in absentia at the next available ceremony.

I am a current final year student. When will I be able to attend a ceremony?

Current finalists will be contacted in the first quarter of 2022 and, if eligible, invited to book on to upcoming ceremonies starting from July 2022.

I would like to attend a rearranged ceremony in the future, but I would like my degree certificate sooner. Is this possible?

No. You will not be able to receive your certificate until you have attended your degree ceremony in person or in absentia. However, you will be able to receive a digital degree confirmation letter.

I need to submit my DPhil thesis. What should I do?

To graduate at a degree ceremony (even in absentia) you will need to submit an electronic copy of your thesis to the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA) a minimum of five working days prior to your graduation date.

If access to a student’s thesis needs to be restricted, please email researchdegrees@admin.ox.ac.uk

Am I able to attend a ceremony with my friends?

Once you have received your email invitation to book your ceremony, you may wish to discuss with your friends about selecting the same graduation date if available. The University cannot arrange for groups to attend together due to space limitations and the dates your college is presenting.

Will I be able to amend the details of my booking?

If you booked through Student Self Service (rather than your college), you will be able to amend your details, excluding the ceremony date, up until 60 days before your chosen ceremony (30 days for research and some modular course students). After that date you should contact your college.

If you need to amend the ceremony date please contact your college. 

What if I cannot attend a degree ceremony on the dates I have been offered?

You may choose either to graduate in absence or to decline and contact your college for the next suitable date. If you select decline, it is unlikely that you will be able to graduate for at least a calendar year, because the degree ceremonies run on a cyclical basis and are allocated to capacity.

Can I book a place at a ceremony if I have not completed my degree?

Taught students in their final year of studies will receive an invitation to book a ceremony. Students on taught courses, who are not in their final year, will not be able to book a place until the start of their final year.

Research students will not be able to book a ceremony until they have been granted leave to supplicate.

Do I need to pay anything for graduation?

You will only pay a fee if you are having your MA conferred, which will cost £40. Please contact your college to enquire about how to pay the MA fee and if they require a payment for gowns, lunch etc. 

Failure to pay the MA fee before 30 days before your ceremony will result in your place in the ceremony being cancelled.

What should I wear to my degree ceremony?

Full academic dress must be worn at degree ceremonies, including a mortar board or soft-cap, and your preferred sub fusc. Members of the University serving in H.M. Forces are permitted to wear dress uniform together with a gown. The uniform cap must be removed when in the Sheldonian Theatre. Ministers of religion may wear clerical dress, with a gown over, when attending ceremonies.

If you wear a headdress/scarf for religious reasons, a black scarf should be worn.

Students having a DPhil conferred should wear the gown of their existing University of Oxford status (and the hood if there is one) during the first part of the ceremony. You will change into the gown (and hood) of your new degree at the appropriate time during the ceremony.

Students having a graduate masters degree conferred, and students having the degree of BA, BFA, BTh, Undergraduate Masters (e.g. MBiochem, MChem, MMath etc.) conferred, should consult their college as to whether they should enter the ceremony wearing the gown of their current status, or the status which will be conferred. In all cases, the gown and hood of the status to be conferred will be required as a minimum.

Your college will advise you as to which gown(s) and hood(s) you will need.

You will be refused admission to the degree ceremony if you are not properly dressed. 

Is there anything that can prevent me from graduating?

The conferral of your degree is conditional on the passing of all required examinations. If you have any debts or dues outstanding to your college or the University you may not be permitted to graduate.

If you are a research student, you must also submit an electronic copy of your thesis at least five days before the degree ceremony. Candidates who fail to submit thesis copies prior to their ceremony date, and within 30 days of the ceremony, will forfeit their opportunity to graduate in person at a later ceremony. 

How do I request the non-Christian formula?

If you are attending a degree ceremony to confer your MA, DD, DCL, DM or MCh, you will be admitted to these degrees by the Vice-Chancellor with a specifically Christian formula. An alternative, non-Christian formula is available on request. If you wish to be admitted with the non-Christian formula, this has to be made clear when booking your degree ceremony.

How do I obtain my degree certificate?

Once you have your degree conferred at a degree ceremony either in person or in absentia, you will automatically receive a degree certificate. If you have already had your degree conferred, but did not receive a certificate following the ceremony, or your certificate has been lost, destroyed, damaged or stolen, visit the degree certificates page.

For all ceremonies, if you have not received your degree certificate within three months of the date of your ceremony  and you fail to notify us of this within that period, you will be charged for a replacement certificate. Replacement certificates can be ordered through our online shop.

Can I have a degree certificate before the graduation ceremony?

Your degree must be conferred at a graduation ceremony before a degree certificate can be issued. If you need proof of your degree before the ceremony, please order a degree confirmation letter.

Can more than one degree be conferred at the same ceremony?

Yes, but only one of your degrees will be conferred in person; the remainder will be conferred in absentia. You may also have multiple degrees conferred in absence at the same ceremony.

I have been invited to a ceremony for my most recently awarded degree but I have a previous Oxford degree which has not been conferred. Can I graduate for each one separately?

You may attend for your most recent degree and have the others conferred in absence at the same ceremony. If you would like to attend a ceremony in person for each of your degrees, you must decline the invitation for your most recent degree and contact your college.

When do graduates become eligible for the MA?

The status of Master of Arts is a mark of seniority within the University which may be conferred twenty-one terms after matriculation. This is not an automatic process and to obtain your MA you must apply to graduate at a degree ceremony (either in person or in absentia).

You must have had your BA or BFA conferred in order to take your MA. They can be conferred at the same ceremony provided that sufficient time has elapsed since you matriculated. You should book a degree ceremony through your college. You are not eligible to take an MA if your undergraduate degree is an Oxford integrated Master’s degree (MBiochem, MChem, MEng, MMath etc).

The Oxford MA allows you to reach a new status within the University and is not an upgrade of your BA or an additional qualification. It therefore has no subject or class. The University does not issue degree confirmation letters or ECTS statements as proof of your MA. Please use your degree certificate as evidence of this award.

Will my name appear in the degree day brochure?

If you are having your degree conferred in person, your name will be printed in the brochure, providing you have given permission for this to happen when you book onto a ceremony. If you haven’t told us you would like your name printed, or are receiving your degree in absentia, your name will not be included. If you are attending in person and would like to update your preference (up until 30 days before the ceremony), you may do so by contacting your college office. It is not possible to make any changes within 30 days of the ceremony.

I’m conferring my degree in absentia; will my name still be read out during the ceremony?

Only the names of those having their degrees conferred in person will have their names called out during the ceremony.

When can I use the title ‘Dr’ after completing my DPhil?

The title of doctor should only be used once the DPhil degree has been conferred at a degree ceremony, whether this is attended or the degree conferred in absence. Students who have completed their viva or submitted corrections should not use the title until such time as the DPhil degree has been conferred, at which point it is officially recognised by the University. 

You may of course opt not to use the title of doctor and instead include ‘DPhil’ after your name, again once the degree has been conferred, although you should not use both the title of Dr and DPhil following the name at the same time. 

How many guest tickets can I have, and is there a dress code for guests?

Graduands are entitled to two guest tickets. There is no formal dress code, however most guests dress for a formal occasion. Check with your college about any special considerations for your college graduation event.

Can children attend the ceremony?

Children are welcome at the Sheldonian Theatre however due to the nature of the building there are certain areas of the theatre that are not suitable for children under the age of six. Please notify your college if you think this is applicable to your guests. Any child aged six and over, or a child who cannot sit on a parent/guardians lap during the ceremony, will require a ticket so that a seat can be allocated for them.

Will the ceremony be filmed, to allow friends and family who cannot attend the ceremony in person to watch too?

For friends and family who do not have a guest ticket, live streaming of the ceremony will be available at https://livestream.com/oxuni/odc. Just click on the correct date and time of your ceremony; the live stream will start a few minutes before the ceremony begins. In addition, some colleges organise viewing facilities on college premises for those that do not have tickets for the ceremony. Please confirm with your college as to whether they offer this.
Following the ceremony, a copy of the recording will be available to purchase as a digital download. Please visit Degree Ceremony Filming for more information.
Please be aware that by attending a degree ceremony at the University of Oxford, either as a graduand or as a guest, you may be captured in photography or film footage. Note that not all students choose to graduate in person at a graduation ceremony – you can also choose to graduate in absentia.

Is it possible for guests to take photographs or record videos during the graduation ceremony?

We ask that you and your guests refrain from taking photographs or recording videos during the ceremony. This will avoid disrupting the experience for other students and guests. There are opportunities to applaud the graduands on the day at certain points during the ceremonies.

Following the ceremony, a copy of the recording will be available to purchase as a digital download. Please visit Degree Ceremony Filming for more information.

Please contact your college regarding any requests of formal/official photography. 

Can I buy University of Oxford graduation memorabilia?

Official photographers will be based inside the Sheldonian quadrangle following the ceremony, should you wish to order official degree day photos, and you may purchase a copy of your ceremony on DVD or digital download after the ceremony.

What do I do if my guests or I have special requirements for seating at the Sheldonian?

Please indicate at the time of your booking if you have special requirements (for example due to a disability), and inform your college of your guests’ accessibility requirements, so that the event organisers can plan where to accommodate you most comfortably and conveniently.

The Sheldonian Theatre is a Grade I listed building. Please note that there are no lift facilities and the majority of seats are benches, some without back rests. Guests should be made aware that they may have to climb several flights of stairs to be seated.

Can guests store personal items during the ceremony?

Please note there is limited space to store pushchairs or luggage but we will try to assist where we can.

How will guests be seated?

Guests are seated on a first come, first seated basis so please arrive with your whole party should you wish to sit together.

What Health and Safety requirements do I need to be aware of at the Sheldonian Theatre during Degree Ceremonies?

Doors open 45 minutes before the ceremony begins. Guests will be queuing outside, so we recommend bringing suitable apparel for all weather. Due to the nature of the building, guests are asked to remain seated for the duration of the ceremony. The building was not designed to modern regulations, so please take extra care in the building (vertigo, steep steps, etc).

Why am I being asked to provide information on the ‘Additional Nominated Contact’ when booking my ceremony?

Your college may use the additional contact details when sending information about college graduation events.

How can I stay in touch with the University?

If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to register to hear from the Oxford Alumni Office. They would really love to stay in touch and keep you up to date, and it's really important that you opt-in, otherwise no one from your college, department or the University will be able to contact you by email. Find out more here.
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