A glossary of graduation terminology


Bedel - Ceremonial official attending the Vice-Chancellor at events such as degree ceremonies and Encaenia, and at meetings of Congregation and Convocation. There are four Bedels, of Divinity, Law, Medicine and Arts.

Commoner’s gown - The gown that an undergraduate who does not have a scholarship or exhibition usually wears. The majority of people graduating with a BA/Integrated Masters wear this gown to graduation before changing in to their new degree gown and hood. 

Congregation - a synonym for the day of a graduation

Dean of Degrees / Deputy Dean of Degrees - The Senior Fellow (or Fellows) responsible for presenting the College’s students to the Vice Chancellor during the graduation ceremony. 

Degree Day – a synonym for the day of a graduation

Development - the name of the office at Jesus College that administrates the graduation ceremonies - you can contact them by emailing degree_day@jesus.ox.ac.uk  

Doctorate of Philosophy - The PhD is known as the DPhil in Oxford

Historic Degree/Graduand A person that has not had their degree conferred despite having completed their course at least 9 months ago. This could be due to a variety of reasons; however, it does make graduating in person difficult as current students are given preferences for the limited number of ceremony spaces. 

Hood – each degree carries with it the right to wear a different academic hood. These are usually made of different coloured silks and trimmed with fur and will be presented to you to wear after your degree has been conferred. They are usually only hired for the graduation day, however, those who will be partaking in academic ceremonies regularly may choose to buy a hood. 

In Absentia – taking your degree in absence, not being physically present at the ceremony. Your name will still read out at the ceremony and your degree conferred, this is then posted to you securely from the College. Most MA’s and historic degrees are taken in absence and some international graduands choose to do so. 

Leave to Supplicate - Usually used in reference to research students, this is the official notification from your department that your work has been submitted, assessed and permission has been granted for you to graduate. 

MA – MA is abbreviation of the Master of Arts degree. This is a mark of seniority within the University which may be conferred 21 terms after matriculation. Please note the Oxford MA is about reaching a new status within the University and not an upgrade of your BA or an additional qualification. It, therefore, has no subject or class, and the nominals 'MA' should be represented in place of, not in addition to, the 'BA' in the holder's signature and on documents such as CVs e.g. MA (Oxon)

Matriculation Year – the year that you officially enrolled in the University, your start year. 

PGCE- Post-Graduate Certificate in Education.

PGR - A student taking a postgraduate research degree.

PGT - A student taking a postgraduate degree that is taught and assessed through examinations and essays rather than a research thesis.

Scholar’s gown - The gown that an undergraduate that holds a scholarship or exhibition usually wears. Some people graduating with a BA/Integrated Masters choose to wear this gown to the ceremony before changing in to their new degree gown and hood. 

Subfusc - Formal attire worn by students and academics on formal academic occasions, including graduation. It is made up of:

  • a dark suit, skirt or trousers
  • a white shirt or blouse
  • a white or black bow tie, black full-length tie or black ribbon
  • worn with a black gown and a mortar-board