About the Ceremonies

The Conferment Ceremonies emphasise the high value of education. Those who have completed their doctoral degree receive the insignia associated with the doctoral status - the hat, the sword and the diploma - in the degree ceremony. In Finnish, the ceremonies are called ‘promootio’. It comes from the Latin word ‘promovere’: to move forwards, to advance, to promote. The insignia are also bestowed upon distinguished individuals who are designated as Honorary Doctors.

The tradition of the conferment ceremony comes from the early Middle Ages. Conferment ceremonies have been arranged in Finland for more than 350 years; the tradition has continued uninterrupted since the first conferment ceremony was organized in the Academy of Turku in 1643. Traditions have significant role in the conferment ceremony, and many of the forms of the ceremonies have remained unchanged. Yet the ceremony is not set in stone; it changes through time and with its organising university, making it a unique event each time.

Doctoral Hat


The hat was a symbol of a free and independent man already in ancient Rome. In universities the doctoral hat is a symbol of freedom of research. The Finnish doctoral hat looks like a top hat. The colour of the hat indicates the field of science; violet: theology, burgundy: law, green: medicine, tricolour blue: arts, and dark blue: physical education. All other fields of science, and all the fields of science at the University of Vaasa, have black hats.

The hats are hand-made according to individual measurements. The golden emblem attached to the velvet band of the hat also indicates the university or the field of science. University of Vaasa has its own emblem for the whole university. The emblem is designed by Juhani Vepsäläinen.

Doctoral Sword


The doctoral sword is a symbolic weapon of the spirit in search for and in defense of truth. The sword used at the ceremonies is Finland's official civilian sword. It comes with a scabbard and a black or golden holder. The university's golden symbol will also be on the sword. The person's name and the date of the Conferment Ceremony are etched on the sword. The sword is traditionally carried on the left side.

Conferments of Doctoral Degrees at the University of Vaasa

The Universtity of Vaasa has so far arranged five Conferment Ceremonies. The first Master's and Doctoral Conferenment Ceremony took place in 1988, when the university celebrated its 20th anniversary. On that occasion 7 honorary doctors 10 doctors and 188 masters's were conferred.  

The second Master's and Doctoral Conferment Ceremony took place in 1998, as the university celebrated its 30th anniversary.  8 honorary doctors, 31 doctors and 90 masters were conferred. 

The third Conferment Ceremony was part of the City of Vaasas 400th anniversary in the year 2006.  12 honorary doctors and 60 doctors were conferred. 

The fourth Conferment Ceremony took place in 2011. 10 honorary doctors and 43 doctors were conferred. 

The fifth Conferment Ceremony took place in 2018, as part of the university's 50th anniversary celebrations. 9 honorary doctors and 74 doctors were conferred. 

ABC of Conferement Ceremonies

Act of Conferment
The actual conferment of degrees and the granting of Honorary Doctor's titles are parts of a festive act of conferment. Speeches and music play an important role in the festivities.

Conferment Book
The conferment book is published before the ceremonies. The book includes short CVs and information of the doctors and honorary doctors.

Conferment Officials
The Conferment officials are the Conferrers of Degrees, the Master of Ceremonies and the Head Marshal.

Conferment Service OR Secular Event 
Takes place after the act of conferment. Participants choose's one of the events. 

Conferrer of Degrees
A senior professor of each faculty chosen to act as the Conferrer of Degrees.

Excursion to the seaside
An informal excursion on the day after the conferment.

Doctoral hat
The symbol of the freedom of research.

Doctoral sword
The symbol of a weapon of the spirit: to battle for what has been scientifically researched and discovered as true, right and good.

Head Marshal
Conducts the ceremonies with the Master of Ceremonies. Trains and supervises the marshals working in the Degree Ceremony.

Honorary Doctor
The University honours distinguished scientists or influential members of society with the award of an Honorary Doctorate.

Students/university employees assisting the Master of Ceremonies and the Head Marshal.

Master of Ceremonies
Professor conducting the ceremonies.

The first young doctor to be conferred in the ceremony. Usually chosen according to his/her excellent merits in the field of research.

The Latin name for the doctors who will be awarded degrees in the ceremony.

Honorary doctors and doctors whet their swords with the assistance of their companion or a marshal. Whetting is performed with a grindstone damped with sparkling wine.

Gala Dinner and Ball
A gala dinner with speeches and music is arranged on the evening after the act of conferment. After the dinner, there is a ball with old academic dances. The ball ends to a speech to the rising sun.