Conferment glossary

Familiarise yourself with conferment-related terminology.
Conferment act

also conferment ceremony. A solemn event dating back to the 13th century where individuals are conferred with their academic or other degree, and the right to bear the associated insignia. According to tradition, the conferral takes place in Latin. The conferment ceremony is rich in symbolism and traditional customs.

Conferment ball

The conferment festivities culminate in the conferment ball. The programme includes academic dances, which are traditional historical dances. Dance rehearsals are held in advance. Following the ball, the participants walk through the city at night in a procession, gathering in Senate Square to admire the rising sun. A speech addressed to the sun concludes the festivities.

Conferment committee

A committee composed of voluntary graduands, which is responsible for organising the conferment festivities.

Conferment dinner

The conferment dinner is held on the evening of the day of the conferment act.

Conferment excursion

The day after the conferment ceremony, newly conferred doctors embark on an informal excursion, usually to the nearby Helsinki archipelago.

Conferment matricula

Conferment matricula – also the official invitation to the conferment ceremony – is a booklet compiled by the conferment committee and presents the personal details of jubilee doctors, honorary doctors and graduands. The matricula is available at the conferment act.

Conferment secretary

A University employee who coordinates the practical arrangements of the conferment festivities in support of the conferment committee.


According to tradition, the Faculty’s most senior professor, whose duty is to confer the graduands with their doctoral degrees in the conferment ceremony. The Conferrer chairs the conferment committee and is one of the officials.

Doctor Primus/Prima

The highest ranking doctoral graduand who, as a representative of the graduands, answers a question posed by the professor of their discipline in the conferment act, thus demonstrating their learning. The Doctor Primus/Prima will be the first of the young doctors to be conferred with their title.

Doctor Ultimus/Ultima

The second-highest ranking doctoral graduand, who is the last to be conferred with their title in the Conferment Act. The Doctor Ultimus/Ultima also gives a speech in the ceremony.


See: Promovendus/Promovenda.

Head Marshal

A Faculty professor or assistant professor, who serves as the head of the marshals and oversees the ceremony alongside the Master of Ceremonies. The Head Marshal is one of the officials.

Honorary doctor

Doctor honoris causa. In connection with the conferment ceremony, the Faculty acknowledges selected distinguished Finnish and international individuals by conferring them with the title of honorary doctor. The title of honorary doctor is the highest recognition that the University can award.

Jubilee doctor

Doctor semisaeculares. In the conferment tradition, doctoral degree holders who were conferred with their title in a conferment ceremony held at the same faculty 50 years earlier are known as jubilee doctors. In 1973, there was no conferment ceremony in veterinary medicine, which is why doctors who got their doctoral degree from veterinary medicine approx. 50 years ago are invited to the conferment ceremony as jubilee doctors in spring 2023.


University students who assist the Head Marshal and the Master of Ceremonies at the various conferment festivities. The marshals are tasked with guiding guests and serving as guards of honour. Marshals are identified by marshal’s ribbons and student caps. According to tradition, marshals represent their student nation or faculty-specific organisation in the conferment ceremony.

Master of Ceremonies

A Faculty professor who, as the title suggests, coordinates the progress of the festivities. The Master of Ceremonies is one of the officials.


A professor selected by the Faculty to be involved in the planning and implementation of the conferment ceremony. Officials include the Conferrer, the Master of Ceremonies and the Head Marshal.


pl Promovendi. Graduand. A recently graduated doctor to be conferred with their academic title. The designation is used before the conferral taking place in the conferment act, after which graduands become newly conferred doctoral degree holders. The promovendi/graduands are often referred to as young doctors to differentiate them from jubilee and honorary doctors.


A doctoral graduand’s companion who, in spite of the name, does not have to whet a sword.

Whetting ceremony

The whetting ceremony is held on the eve of the day of the conferment ceremony. The water of Lake Sahajärvi is used as a whetting fluid.