Graduation and Congregations
Graduation - COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Congregations to confer degrees in person will not take place until further notice, but Congregations will continue for those who wish to take their degree in absence.
If you would like to take your degree in absence on 24 October 2020 please contact the Praelector's Secretary at email@example.com or log in to your CamSIS Self-Service - more instructions are further down this page. Please note this date is subject to change also.
Dates are listed at the bottom of the page for the next academic year, however these are still subject to change,
We would encourage students to graduate in absence if they can so that they can use their title - this cannot be confirmed to employers until it has been conferred at a congregation. This will also provide students with the opportunity to join their cohort at an alternative ceremony when it is safe to do so. More information about this is below.
Future graduation ceremonies for those who graduate in absence
The University and the Colleges recognise the importance of celebrating students' achievements in a fitting way. For students who graduate in absence because of the Covid-19 crisis, the University and Colleges’ Congregations Working Group has adopted the key principle of seeking to offer a ceremony in the Senate-House that will be as close as possible to the usual in-person graduation. Our aim is to make it possible for College cohorts to reunite in their College and to process together to the Senate-House in academic dress, where those still to graduate will have their degrees conferred and those who have graduated in absence will have their degrees celebrated in a similar way. How soon this can happen will depend on when social distancing rules have eased and large gatherings are again possible, but in the hope that this could take place next year, the Working Group is consulting with Colleges on a range of potential dates for 2021. The website will be updated when dates are confirmed.
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.
Paper copies of certificates and transcripts for everyone who has graduated in absence during the lockdown period will be produced and posted as soon as University staff are able to return to the workplace. Further copies may be ordered once this service is available again. A service that allows you to access your official transcript electronically remains in place. This subscription service to Digitary allows you to share documents on-line with other organisations such as employers or other educational institutions. Degree certificates are now 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 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.
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 10:00, guests should be in the Senate House by 09:50, and the Praelector will need to see graduands taking their degrees in person, dressed for the ceremony, at 09:00, in the Old Music Room.
When the Congregation begins at 11:00, guests should be in the Senate House by 10:50, and the Praelector will need to see graduands taking their degrees in person, dressed for the ceremony, at 10:00, in the Old Music Room.
When the congregation begins at 14:00, graduands should call on the Praelector, dressed for the ceremony, in the Old Music Room, at 11:45 and guests should be in their seats in the Senate House by 13:50.
All Graduands are invited to lunch with the Fellows at 12:30. Sherry will be served from 12:15 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, space permitting.
Congregation Dates and Deadlines 2019-20
Date of Congregation
Closing date for applications
26 October 2019, 11:00
30 September 2019
30 November 2019, 14:00
4 November 2019
|25 January 2020, 14:00
|30 December 2019
|22 February 2020, 14:00
|27 January 2020
|21 March 2020, 11:00
|24 February 2020
|25 April 2020, 11:00 IN ABSENCE ONLY
|15 April 2020
|16 May 2020 (MA Day)*, 09:00 IN ABSENCE ONLY
|1 May 2020
|27 June 2020 (General Admission)
|20 April 2020 IN ABSENCE ONLY
|8 July 2020 (General Admission - Second Ceremony)
|30 June 2020 at 5pm
|18 July 2020 (Friday)
|9 July 2020 at 5pm IN ABSENCE ONLY
Those admitted to the BChir in June 2019 have one year in order to take their MB at a congregation. Please note that the May 2020 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 2020.
*Those wishing to take the MA in 2020 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.
How to Register
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:
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.
Important notice: Due to the current situation General Admission was held on 27 June, for degrees to be received in absence only. All those affected have been emailed by Student Services and been automatically enrolled.
All information below reflects a General Admission under normal circumstances.
General Admission - Wednesday 24 June 2020
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: BTh, BA, VetMB and BA with MEng or MMath or MSci degrees only. Please note that the MB, LL.M. and M.C.L. degrees cannot be conferred then, neither can the M.Eng, M.Sci and M.Math. without the BA.
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.
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.
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 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 13:30.
Beginning of Easter Term
Information Sheets sent to Graduands
First week of Easter Term
Online Applications Completed
By 20 April
Ticket Collection – Senate House and Lunch tickets from Student Services (F2a Chapel Court)1
1 - 5 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
Procession assembles – Second Court
Congregation at the Senate House
Guests for the First Session should arrive
Guests for the Second Session should arrive
General Admission Lunch in First Court
The Combination Room will be open after lunch 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. Please note: entry is via E Staircase Second Court.
from 14:15 - 15:15
from 14:15 - 15:15
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
Vacate Rooms: Graduands must vacate their rooms
MA Degree Ceremony
Important notice: Due to the current situation it is only possible to receive your MA degree in absence. The deadline has now passed for registration.
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 2021 those who matriculated in October 2014 and graduated with the BA degree prior to December 2018 will be eligible.
The Praelector's Secretary 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 22 May 2021 congregation from January 2021, the deadline to register is strictly 19 April 2021*
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:
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 Praelector's Secretary.
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 Praelector's Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org; 01223 338699) 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.
- 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.
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.
Invitation email sent to eligible alumni
|sent by end of January
Application form deadline
Mid-April (see Congregation Dates on main Congregation page)
Friday (night before MA Ceremony)
MA Dinner in Hall - Please see invitation email sent by Development Office
19:30 prompt (tbc)
Saturday (MA Ceremony)
Car Parking - Available on College Playing Fields - Cars left at owners risk
Will be open from 07:00 - 17:00
|Registration and procession assembles in Hall - Graduands should be dressed ready for the ceremony
|Procession assembles outside for group photograph outside in 1st Court
|Procession leaves for the Senate House outside in 1st Court
|Congregation at the Senate House - guests should arrive at the Senate House
MA Buffet Lunch in Hall - Strictly one guest permitted per Graduand
|Group Photograph - The photographer will be available to sell the group photograph during the buffet lunch (location tbc)
|12.45 until end of lunch
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 Assistant to the Fellows' Steward (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.
The Praelector is obligated to emphasize to Graduands the rules for dress for those taking degrees In Person.
Dress Option One
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.
plain, collared and white (long sleeves)
wing collars may be worn, but are not required
white bow tie with white 'bands' must be worn
unpatterned black/very dark grey
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.
plain, white (long sleeves unless a long-sleeved dress is worn)
unpatterned black/nearly black or natural coloured
formal, black (not boots, not sandals)
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.
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.
- 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 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).
- 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.
Many people have questions about graduation and congregation arrangements.
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.