How to graduate

Four years ago I speculated on graduation from the point of view of the rising trend of graduation for young children, which to my mind confuses progression and graduation. This too makes for a good read, although from a different angle.

But a number of issues around students not able to graduate (because they have not fulfilled the requirements of the programme or because they have not turned up) lead to me look again at just what is graduation. At Brookes, for example, there exists a persistent myth embedded in the language of the ceremony about whether you are a BA (or whatever) without the ceremony – in other words, is our ceremony a conferment of degrees? This leads me to wonder about really what comes down to two themes:

What if we look at the language of the ceremony? Are we really addressing graduands who become graduates?

What about the ritual? What is conferred, what is received? Is there a quasi-sacramental element here?

In other words, is it possible to look at a graduation ceremony through the eyes of a liturgist?

2 thoughts on “How to graduate

  1. This is an interesting area. I think that we’ve lost a shared understanding of what a degree is, is it a thing that you have, or is a quality about you? I was admitted to the degree of bachelor, t wasn’t a thing that I had. The certificate marked my admission, it wasn’t the thing. I think there’s a perception that you get a degree.

    So, my BA cert says:

    It is hereby certified that MRR was admitted to the degree of bachelor of arts in the university with honours … in …

    And the far less elegant MA cert says:

    This is to certify that on … MRR was a awarded a Master of Arts in …

    Which the truely pedantic which take to mean I have been awarded a person who has the degree of MA. Yuk.


    1. Well, the word degree itself here means status, not qualification. The qualification says that you have reached this status, or are entitled be be someone of this status. It’s only in the second case that they have been confused.


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