Collecting Your Degree

You have received your exam results and are ready to graduate – congratulations!

Newnham has joint Praelectors; Dr Claire Barlow and Dr Ruth Charles.

The Praelector’s Clerk is Mrs Victoria Argent.


When you graduate from Cambridge your degree is conferred on you in the Senate House by the Vice-Chancellor or their deputy. This is one of the oldest ceremonies in the University, known as a Congregation. These take place at intervals through the year. Special arrangements are in place for two big ceremonies for Newnham graduands: General Admission in June or early July, and the March congregation for those eligible to receive the Cambridge MA.

Undergraduates normally receive their degrees at General Admission. The only degrees which may be taken at this Congregation are the B.A., M.Eng, M.Sci, Vet.M.B., M.Math.

Students receiving other degrees may be presented at any Congregation other than General Admission.

Congregation Dates

Congregation Dates 2019-20

26 October 2019
30 November 2019
25 January 2020 (in absence only)
22 February 2020 (in absence only)
28 March 2020 (MA)
25 April 2020
16 May 2020
26 June 2020 (General Admission)
18 July 2020

Booking your Graduation

Newnham presents graduands for their degrees at most Congregations.

If you are studying for your undergraduate degree you will normally receive this at General Admission. It is vital that prior to leaving Newnham you update your contact details on camSIS before submitting your application. You will need to update the following information:

  • E-Mail Address: You will most likely be contacted at some point before the ceremony.
  • Address: Please update your mailing address. This is vital for those graduating in absence, as we will mail your degree certificate and transcript to your current mailing address.
  • Name: Please check the spelling of your name carefully, as this will appear on your degree certificate. If it is incorrect please change this and notify the Praelector’s Clerk.

Students with outstanding bills cannot proceed to a degree. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that debts to the College are cleared, in order to receive their degree.

Degrees conferred in Person
If you wish to take your degree in person you should complete the form below and send it to the Praelector’s Clerk. You can invite up to three guests into the Senate House to watch your ceremony. There is not normally a limit on guest tickets for lunch at Newnham College.

Degrees conferred in Absence
If you are unable to attend a Congregation but wish to have your degree conferred this can be done in absence. You do not need to attend Congregation. Your name will appear on the list of graduands posted in the Old Schools arcade and published for the Congregation concerned. After the Congregation your certificate will be sent to you at the correspondence address held in CamSIS. An official degree transcript, will also be sent, normally within a month of the Congregation.

We need to receive your graduation booking three weeks before your intended congregation date: Book your graduation


General Admission

Four days each summer are set aside for this Congregation – General Admission. Undergraduates normally take their degrees at General Admission. Other degrees that may be taken at this Congregation are the B.A., LL.M, MCL, M.Eng, M.Sci, Vet.M.B., M.Math. General Admission runs from a Wednesday to a Saturday in late June/early July. The graduands of each College process to the Senate House accompanied by their Praelector and many of the Fellows. The sessions for each College follow a pre-arranged order – King’s, Trinity and St John’s are first, and then each College in sequence determined by their date of foundation. Newnham’s session tends to be on Friday afternoon. Each College normally has a session of the Congregation to itself for General Admission.

A rehearsal takes place before the Congregation usually on the preceding afternoon. It is a mandatory requirement to attend this to familiarise yourself with the ceremony, check that your academical dress is correct and your chosen graduation outfit complies with the strict dress code.

Details of what happens at a congregation will be published towards the end of Lent term. Newnham usually organises a garden party for all graduands after the ceremony which you and your guests are welcome to attend (please note there is an additional charge for guests).

The Cambridge MA

Historically the MA is the most important Cambridge degree. Unlike many British Universities, the Cambridge MA is not a taught degree. Holders of the BA may proceed to an MA ten terms after becoming eligible for their BA, and in doing so they become members of the University Senate. This carries with it the right to:

  • take part in University governance
  • vote for the election of the Chancellor or the High Steward
  • borrow books from the University Library

Newnham invites the cohort of BAs who are newly eligible to register for their MA to return to Cambridge for the March congregation each year. Those newly eligible should receive information regarding the MA Congregation in December/January before their eligible MA ceremony in March. Please ensure that you have updated your details with the Development Office.

Those eligible to receive the MA are encouraged to attend the ceremony in March as extra alumnae activities are arranged in College to coincide with this congregation. If you have not received any information regarding the Cambridge MA, you should contact us at least six weeks in advance to ensure that you are able to take your MA at the congregation of your choice.

What should I wear?

Academic Dress
The combination of gowns and hoods differs between those who already hold a Cambridge degree and those taking a degree from Cambridge for the first time. If you are taking:

  • your undergraduate degree from Cambridge you should wear your undergraduate gown and the hood of the degree to which you are proceeding.
  • your second, or subsequent degree from Cambridge you should wear the gown and the hood of the highest Cambridge degree you currently hold.

You can hire academic dress for the occasion from any of the University outfitters in Cambridge, although we strongly recommend Ede & Ravenscroft. The Tutorial Office will send you details of how to arrange gown and hood hire alongside other information about your graduation ceremony.

Graduation is a formal occasion and so an appropriate standard of dress is expected. The dress code is strictly enforced at ceremonies, and if you do not observe it, you may not be permitted to graduate on a particular occasion.

You should wear a black, unpatterned suit (either a trouser suit or a skirt suit) with a white blouse, or a black, unpatterned long sleeved dress. Skirts should be no shorter than just above the knee and are always worn with tights.

Shoes should be black, clean and polished. Sandals (including shoes in which your toes are visible and slingbacks) are not permitted. Any jewellery should be small and unobtrusive. When choosing skirts and footwear you should bear in mind that you will be expected to walk from Newnham College to the Senate House and are likely to kneel down and stand up in a dignified manner in front of your guests and the Vice-Chancellor. Heel height should be low- stilettos are not permitted.

Full dress regulations will be sent to you at the time of booking. If you are in doubt about the suitability of any clothing for graduation please check this before your anticipated graduation date with the Praelector’s Clerk.

Further Information

For further information regarding collecting your degree, please visit the University of Cambridge website;

Graduation Information – University of Cambridge