Academic Ceremonies

Yale College Opening Assembly

Each fall the President and Dean of Yale College address first year students and their parents and guests at a ceremony the Monday following first year move in.


Since Yale’s first century, students and faculty have gathered on the Sunday before Commencement for the Baccalaureate ceremony,  a ceremony which had at its heart a Baccalaureate sermon. The sermon of days past has given way to an address by Yale’s president, although religious overtures remain with the participation of the University chaplain and the singing of hymns and an anthem. Of the three main events of Commencement weekend - Baccalaureate, Class Day, and Commencement - Baccalaureate is the most formal. Learn more.


All University degrees are formally conferred during the Commencement ceremony on Old Campus. The name of every degree candidate has been submitted to the Yale Corporation earlier for approval; during the Old Campus ceremony, the Dean of Yale College and deans of the graduate and professional schools formally present their approved candidates to the President. The president, in turn, confers the degrees and admits new graduates to each degree’s “rights and responsibilities.” Student marshals from each residential college and school accept symbolic diplomas from the President on behalf of their colleagues. Learn more.

M.A. Privatim

Faculty members who are promoted to full professor and who have earned their advanced degrees at an institution other than Yale are granted an honorary master’s degree, the M.A. Privatim. The President presides over an annual elegant, brief ceremony, usually in February or March, at which the degrees are conferred.