We believe that the beginning and end of students’ time at Georgetown are milestones worthy of being marked by academic ceremonies. We welcome students to campus in ways that will help them thrive at the university and celebrate their accomplishments when they graduate. During the year there are two faculty convocations and occasional honorary degree ceremonies to recognize particular individuals.
Every year Georgetown has a New Student Convocation and a Senior Convocation for undergraduate students. Commencement Weekend includes graduation ceremonies for each of the schools and other special ceremonies, including Tropaias, ceremonies at which individual schools distribute awards. The opening of the school year includes the Mass of the Holy Spirit at which the faculty appears in academic attire and Commencement Weekend includes the Baccalaureate Mass at which the faculty and students process in academic dress.
Faculty and students who participate in the official ceremonies wear academic dress, the origins of which date back to medieval times.
Undergraduate students wear a simple black robe with pointed sleeves and a black cap with a black tassel. All students graduating from Georgetown at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels wear a hood lined with blue and gray, reflecting Georgetown’s colors. The trim on the hood reflects the degree they have earned.
A science student’s hood, for example, would have a gold trim, while a student who graduates in the humanities would have his or her hood trimmed with white, a symbol of purity.
Master’s degree students wear a longer, black robe with closed sleeves, while doctoral students wear a black gown with three black, velvet stripes or Georgetown’s blue gown with three gray, velvet stripes. The doctoral students’ hoods are longer and they wear a black cap with a gold tassel.
School of Medicine graduates wear black robes with three green, velvet stripes to reflect the color of medieval herbs, while Law Center graduates wear blue robes with three stripes in purple, which was once associated with royalty.
Faculty members usually wear the academic dress of the institution from which they were granted their doctoral degree. The president is the only one at Georgetown who wears a gown with four stripes. Because the current president, John J. DeGioia, is an alumnus of Georgetown, his robe is blue with gray stripes.
New Student Convocation
At the university’s New Student Convocation, the president and an undergraduate student address the incoming undergraduates and their parents. This event is held in McDonough Arena and is the first official ceremony new students attend as they begin their tenure at Georgetown. After the ceremony, the president hosts a lunch where new students and their families can visit with distinguished faculty, university leaders and staff.
Commencement Weekend begins with a convocation for members of the senior class. During the convocation the president, the provost and a guest speaker make remarks and at least one student from the graduating class reflects on his or her time at Georgetown.
Graduating students receive diplomas from their respective schools during Commencement. Featured Commencement speakers, many well known, often receive honorary degrees as a part of the official ceremony. For commencement activities and schedule, please visit individual school websites a few weeks before Commencement.
Georgetown awards honorary degrees to distinguished individuals who merit special recognition for genuine achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the university’s mission. Only the university’s board of directors can determine who receives an honorary degree. Past honorary degree recipients include: Harry S. Truman, Bob Hope, Elie Wiesel, Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Pelosi and Ronald Reagan.
Named after the ancient Greek word for “trophy,” the Tropaia ceremonies recognize students, faculty and alumni for their academic excellence and outstanding achievement. Tropaia ceremonies are conducted at the end of each academic year during commencement weekend activities.