Are you graduating this summer? Graduation ceremonies are undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable moments during university studies. Years of hard study, practical exercises and lectures are behind you and your family can share thec successful culmination of your effort. Did you know that during the first graduation ceremonies at Comenius University, children were not allowed in the university’s auditorium? Here are some more interesting facts about this joyful occasion.

27. 06. 2024 10.25 hod.
By: Nasa Univerzita Magazine Staff
  • The first graduation ceremony at the Faculty of Medicine took place on 28 February, 1920.

  • The first male student to graduate was MUDr. Pavol Halaša, the first female student to graduate from Comenius University, was MUDr. Vlasta Mária Bardovská, in January 1921.
  • The Masters of Ceremonies (bedels) at Comenius University did not receive their robes and insignia to be used for ceremonial occasions until 1923 to 1924.
  • During the first graduation ceremonies, children were not allowed in the CU Auditorium in order to not damage the seats.
  • The Gaudeamus igitur incantation was originally called De brevitate vitae - "On the brevity of life" and the song was sung in German universities in the mid-18th century.
  • Graduates of the Faculty of Medicine at Comenius University wear their own faculty black robes during the ceremony, in addition to taking the Hippocratic Oath.
  • Doctoral graduates and those who passed rigorous exams say the graduation vow in Latin, graduates of lower degrees of study say the Slovak version.
  • Each faculty of Comenius University follows a different procedure in its graduation ceremony.
  • During the graduation ceremony, the rector and the deans of faculties wear their insignia: the gowns and black velvet berets were designed by Josef Vydra who took inspiration from the Charles University in Prague, at which each faculty shows its own symbols.
  • The deans' graduation gowns are black with a trim in the colour of their faculty, the rector's gown is red. Robes were not used from the time when Comenius University was established, they were only introduced during academic ceremonies later.
  • Graduates of the Faculty of Pharmacy and of the Jessenius Faculty of Medicine wear black gowns with a square collar in the colour of the faculty and a black headdress with a tassel in the colour of the faculty.
  • During the graduation ceremony, the teachers of the faculty enter the auditorium first, followed by the promoter dressed in a robe with insignia, the bedel of the faculty wearing the bedel’s robe with insignia, the dean wearing a robe with insignia, the rector's bedel wearing the bedel’s robe with insignia, and finally the rector in a robe with an insignia.
  • This year there has been a change: anyone who enters the graduation ceremony needs to go through turnstiles. Graduating students use their student cards. Invited guests can enter the building using the QR codes that are assigned to the graduates following their graduation ceremony registration in AiS2.
  • For Bachelor graduation ceremonies one student is entitled to invite four guests to the ceremony in the auditorium while Master graduates may invite up to six guests.


Graduation ceremony customs in other countries


In Sweden, doctoral graduates wear a laurel wreath or the "doctor's hat" that symbolizes freedom and power. The symbol of the laurel wreath dates back to the ancient times and was the only prize awarded at the Greek Olympic Games. In the Roman triumph processions, the laurel wreath symbolized victory. Students also used to receive a gold ring that represented their loyalty to their scientific department. In the past, the ring was set with precious stones. Laurel wreaths are also put on the heads during graduation ceremonies in Italy.


In Finland, graduates complete their doctoral studies by a ceremony during which they receive a hat symbolizing freedom in research, and a sword, symbol of the fight for the good, for justice and for truth. According to the rules, the sword must be 87 cm long, and students wear it on the left. Women attach a holster with a graduation sword to their belt.


Receiving a university diploma is not a pleasant celebration for everyone. There is one really strange custom in Argentina: as soon as a graduate leaves the university, their family members throw raw eggs at them, cover them with flour and pour oil on them.


During the graduation ceremony in Hawaii college graduates wear the typical Hawaiian flower wreaths Lei around their necks that symbolise peace, friendship and respect. However, the wreaths do not have to be made only of flowers - during graduation ceremonies students may also wear hala fruit around their necks, which is associated with love, desire and change.


Graduates in Thailand receive their diploma directly from a member of the royal family. During the ceremony, they must pay their respects according to the royal tradition. Male graduates have to bow, just like in Slovakia. Female graduates bow with one foot placed behind the other and bending their knees a little. The diploma is always received with the right hand and held at chest level.


During the graduation ceremony, college graduates in the United States wear a cap with a tassel on the right side. Once they receive their title, they move it to the left as a sign of success.

Your graduation ceremony is a solemn occasion and we recommend appropriate clothing. Ladies might go for a dress covering the shoulders and reaching at least slightly above the knees. Appropriate accessories are thin stockings and closed-toe shoes. Men should wear a suit with a tie and closed lace-up shoes. If you want to take home something to remember your Alma Mater by, there will be a booth in the vestibule offering t-shirts, hoodies and souvenirs with the university logo.

Radka Rosenbergová