Academic Ceremony

What is an academic ceremony? What does it entail? What is celebrated? Who attends? What do the words mean? Here you will find information about the academic ceremony and what makes the one at Halmstad University special.

Two twigs with leaves in different blue colours, which encircle the text ”Academic ceremony 2023”. The twigs start at the bottom from a symbol that reads ”40 years, 1983–2023, Halmstad University”. Illustration.
Man wearing a doctoral degree hat. Photo.

Jörgen Persson, former professional table tennis player, was conferred as Honorary Doctor at Halmstad University's Academic Ceremony on November 16, 2018. Photo: Anders Andersson

Halmstad University’s Honorary Doctors


  • Lennart Andrén, Innovation Sciences


  • Bertil Allard, Innovation Sciences


  • Jörgen Persson, Health and Lifestyle
  • Gun-Britt Lydén, Health and Lifestyle


  • Maj-Britt Sandlund, Health and Lifestyle


  • Jan Einar Blomquist, Innovation Sciences
  • Nicolas Hassbjer, Information Technology

Tradition with Medieval origins – wordlist from A to Z

What do all the academic words mean? This is where we gather and explain all the phrasing concerning the academic ceremony. The Academic Ceremony is a European university tradition with its roots in the Middle Ages and antique symbolism. Halmstad University celebrated its first Academic Ceremony in 1998. Halmstad University is a young university that has created its own traditions and rituals, but that also connects to traditional ceremonies.

Adjunct Professor: a person whose primary employment is outside the academia. Through Adjunct professors the University gains expertise from other parts of the community, for instance the service sector.

Associate Professor/Docent: academic title that indicates a more scientifically advanced competence than a Doctor’s degree, simplified, the next step on the career ladder after doctor, towards becoming professor.

Confer a Degree of Doctor: the act of giving the insignia for master’s degrees, or more common, doctor’s degrees. The academic customs are different depending on the University. The promotor says “greetings” and thereafter: “take the laurel wreath/cap, the symbol of freedom, and take the diploma, the symbol of your worthiness” and puts the cap or laurel wreath on promovendus’ head. At Halmstad University, promovendi has the ring on before the ceremony. The last part of the conferment ceremony is when the promotor leads promovendus to the middle of parnassen (at Halmstad University, the rug) and says, “Goodbye Degree of Doctor” and turs the doctor towards the auditorium. The meaning of “goodbye” is an order: Use your knowledge and skills well, it is through them you are capable of handling future challenges, and through them you will achieve important things in society, which is the main goal for universities – to contribute to a better world.

Conferment ceremony: the academic ceremony when insignia for doctoral degrees are presented, that is, the outer signs of one’s doctoral worthiness. Taking part in the conferment ceremony is not mandatory anymore but used to be the occasion when a doctor received his or her title. At some universities there are conferment ceremonies for master’s degrees, and with that, different insignia.

Defence of Doctoral Thesis: the occasion when a doctoral student publicly defends their doctoral thesis.

Degree of Doctor/Doctoral Degree/PhD: a degree of doctor is achieved by receiving a passing grade on one’s thesis after a doctoral defence.

Diploma: the certificate a doctor receives as a sign of worthiness at a conferment.

Doctor: is a title given to those who have received a doctor’s degree from a university (or college). Doctor is also used as a title for those who have received a Medical degree or a degree in Dental Surgery. The word originates from the Latin word doctor, which means teacher (from the verb docere, to teach). To take a doctorate means to study and do research to receive a doctor’s degree. During this time, a person is a PhD student. You need to publicly defend your doctoral theses in front of an opponent and an examination board to become a doctor. When the thesis is approved, the doctoral student becomes a doctor, if all other examinations during the doctoral education are approved. At Halmstad University, the doctors and honorary doctors, that is those who have received their doctor’s degree at Halmstad University and those who have been named Honorary Doctor, are conferred. Persons employed at Halmstad University who conduct their research here but receive their doctor’s degree from another university are not conferred at Halmstad University, but they are acknowledged and celebrated during the University’s academic ceremony.

Doctoral cap/hat: a hat that symbolises freedom and power. It is most often black and creased with the University symbol on the front (in the case of Halmstad University it is a golden logotype surrounded by a laurel wreath).

Doctoral ring: a ring that symbolises faithfulness towards science. Halmstad University’s ring is made from either red or white gold.

Excellent Teaching Practitioner: a title to recognise and award teachers who have reached a higher level of pedagogic skill, and to recognise special pedagogical achievements.

Guest Professor (Visting Professor): a professor that has a limited time employment at a university but is usually employed at another university.

Honorary Doctor: an honorary title that is given only as a distinction, that is, the honorary doctor has not achieved a degree of doctor at the university. At Halmstad University, the honorary doctorate is a way of expressing gratitude towards a person’s significant achievements within one of the University’s research education areas: Information Technology, Innovation Science or Health and Lifestyle.

Inauguration: the ceremony where new professors are inaugurated into their tenures. At Halmstad University, the Vice-Chancellor is the one to dress installandi in the professor’s cape and hand them the diploma. The professorial inauguration is an old tradition that includes the new professor being accepted into the group of professorial colleagues and the international science community.

Insignia: the objects given to a Doctor as proof of his or her doctoral worthiness. A doctoral ring to show faithfulness towards science, a doctoral cap or laurel wreath for freedom and a diploma for worthiness.

Installandi: new professors that are inaugurated into their new tenures. When speaking of several, it is installandi. When speaking of a woman it is installanda and man is installandus.

Laurel wreath: was in ancient times a symbol of scientific, literary and athletic merits. To crown promovendi with a laurel wreath only occurs in Sweden and Finland.

Marshal: person, usually a student, who helps at academic ceremonies and other ceremonies.

“Parnass”: symbolises the Greek Gods’ mountain Parnassos. During the conferment ceremony, promovendus/a is lead across “the parnass”, by the promotor, which has symbolised that promovendus/a now has the right to teach academically. At Halmstad University, “the parnass” is a white rug with the blue University logo.

Professor Emeritus/Emerita (retired professor): Professors keep their titles after retirement. All professors can call themselves “Professor Emerita” (woman) or “Professor Emeritus” (man) after retirement.

Procession: regarding the academic ceremony, the procession is when the Standard-bearers, Marshals, Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Chair of the University Governing Board, President of the Student Union, Professors, installandi, Honorary Doctors and promovendi, along with other honorary guests, ceremoniously walk in formation to the front of the stage and their seats.

Professorial cape: at Halmstad University, installandi receive a professorial cape as proof of being accepted into the group of professorial colleagues. Halmstad University’s professorial cape is specifically designed for the University by Brohall & son in Borås.

Promotor: a professor named to be the one to carry out the conferment ceremony.

Promovendi: the doctors taking part in the conferment ceremony. Several doctors are called Promovendi, one male is Promovendus and one female is Promovenda.

Standard-bearer: a person holding a flag or standard during a ceremonial occasion. To be named standard-bearer is seen as an honourable assignment since the bearer represents the organisation, education or something else that the flag, or standard, symbolises.

Vice-Chancellor chain: a symbol of the office of the Vice-Chancellor and of worthiness. The chain (along with the gown) is worn during ceremonial academical occasions. The Vice-Chancellor of Halmstad University receives, when he or she is inaugurated, a silver chain designed by silversmith Lena Stare, Halmstad. The chain has a piece of jewellery attached to it, which is designed by Dan Bergmark. The jewellery represents the University’s closeness to the coast and ocean, and how knowledge spreads like circles on water.

Vice-Chancellor gown: a symbol of the office of the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor gown at Halmstad University is designed by textile artist Gitt Grännsjö-Carlsson and sown by Ewy Åsvärd.