The Conferment Ceremony (Promootio):

The roots of the conferment ritual – the actual granting of a University qualification or honorary degree either at a graduation ceremony or in absentia – go back to medieval Europe in the 13th century.

Conferrer of Degrees:

Conferrer of Degrees
Each faculty has chosen one of the senior professors to act as the Conferrer of Degrees.


Those individuals awarded doctorates are called young doctors or promovendi. The word comes from Latin and, depending on how it is inflected, it means different things.

Before the ceremony:

  • promovendi – several men and women
  • promovendus – a man
  • promovenda – a woman

After the ceremony:

  • promoti – several men and women
  • promotus – a man
  • promota – a woman

Representative of the promovendi:

Promovendi who have been chosen by their faculties to participate in the organizing of the conferment. They answer the questions posed by the promovendi about hats and swords and organize an informal sailing trip on the day after the conferment.

Honorary Doctor:

Doctoris honoris causa. The university honors some distinguished scientists or influential members of society with the award of an Honorary Doctorate. This is the highest honor that the university can bestow to a person.

Primus or Prima:

The first young doctor whose degree is conferred in the ceremony. Primus – or Prima – is chosen according to his/her excellent merits in the field of research. He or she will answer the question posed by the professor of his or her subject, and will thereby prove the learnedness of the promovendi he or she represents.

Ultimus or Ultima:

The second young doctor who receives special attention during the ceremonies. Ultimus – or ultima – is according to his/her outstanding merits in the field of research. After the conferment act, the ultimus or ultima makes a speech to the invited guests.

The Sword-Whetting:

The Sword-Whetting takes place on the eve of the conferment ceremony. Honorary doctors and doctors whet their swords with the assistance of their escort or a herald. Whetting is performed with a grindstone damped with champagne.

The Conferment Dinner and Ball:

During the evening, after the act of conferment, a degree ceremony dinner with speeches and music is arranged. After the dinner there is a Ball with old dances. After the Ball the guests gather together to admire and address a speech to the rising sun.

The Sailing Trip:

On the day after the conferment, an informal sailing trip or picnic is arranged for the Doctors.

Conferment Officials:

At the University of Oulu, the conferment officials are the Master of Ceremonies and the Chief Herald.

Master of Ceremonies:

Professor conducting the ceremonies.

Chief Herald:

Chief Herald trains and supervises the student heralds from all the faculties working in the Degree Ceremony together with the Master of Ceremonies.


Students or university employees who assist the Master of Ceremonies and the Chief Herald during the ceremonies.

The Conferment Book or the Register (Matrikkeli):

The conferment book includes short CVs of the doctors and honorary doctors.

Last updated: 24.3.2020