Why are graduations called commencement?

Although it means beginning, the beginning can be confused with the end because of its association with the end of studies. Its use originated when students finished their studies and obtained a degree, starting with a degree or master's degree in a subject and enjoying new privileges in the academic world.

Why are graduations called commencement?

Although it means beginning, the beginning can be confused with the end because of its association with the end of studies. Its use originated when students finished their studies and obtained a degree, starting with a degree or master's degree in a subject and enjoying new privileges in the academic world. Why is graduation called “graduation”? The word reflects the meaning of the Latin inceptio, a “beginning”, and was the name that medieval European scholars gave to the initiation ceremony. The original university degree certified that the holder could instruct others in a given academic discipline.

As part of the graduation ritual, which usually included a banquet that the graduate would give as a thank you to his teachers and friends, the newly appointed academic gave his first lecture as a legitimate teacher. To begin, then, means to “start teaching”. From their perspective, graduation represents the end of their education. However, from a university perspective, it's called graduation because the university is actually in session during that ceremony.

Graduation exercises are performative rituals in which the ceremony itself is the one that confers the title. Graduation ceremonies and rites are often referred to as “graduation exercises”. The first involves “the end of a phase” or “abandoning a certain level in school” (for example, on such a special occasion, students leave years of effort, hard work and fun like puppies to start another period of life, but with greater complexity or, to sound better, with added value). Whatever we call it, there's still an aspect of moving on and learning more.

While participation in university and school events remained strong, attendance at the Main Mall's graduation was affected, in part, because the emphasis on hooding doctorate maces, symbols of authority that were first used in the 13th century graduation processions in Oxford and Cambridge, is still taking place at the beginning of the University of California.

Vanessa Shelly
Vanessa Shelly

My name is Vanessa and I am a college student at the University of Michigan. I am majoring in communications and I love to write. I am a member of the Michigan Marching Band and I love to play the trumpet. Infuriatingly humble coffee guru.

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