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Graduation is getting a diploma or academic degree, or the ceremony that is sometimes associated with it, in which students become graduates. The date of graduation is often called graduation day. The graduation ceremony itself is also called: commencement, convocation or invocation.
Normally, the ceremony and name apply to university level and above (Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees), however, in the United States, completing mandatory schooling is also referred to as graduating, even though it is substantially below degree level. Graduations for elementary school and kindergartens, and even for passing from one school year to the next, have been a development of recent years. This has received criticism, being described as "just a way of celebrating mediocrity".
Graduation at the college and university level occurs when the presiding officer confers degrees upon candidates, either individually or en masse, even if graduates physically receive their diploma later at a smaller college or departmental ceremony. When ceremonies are associated, they usually include a procession of the academic staff and candidates and a valediction. The faculty will usually wear an academic dress at the formal ceremonies, as will the trustees and the degree candidates. After degree completion, graduates can be referred to by their graduating year.
In some places, graduation parties celebrating graduation from school, college or university are popular. In a recent 2014 nationwide survey in the United States, $985 was the average amount spent on graduation parties. When a student graduates without attending the graduation ceremony, then it is called graduation in absentia.
The procedures and traditions surrounding academic graduation ceremonies differ around the world. Whereas in the United Kingdom a graduation usually only occurs at university level, in the United States of America and many other countries graduations also occur at high schools where no higher education qualifications are conferred upon the graduates. In a graduation ceremony the students dress up in special graduation caps and clothing that are made just for this purpose.
Graduation traditions are varied across universities observing different cultures. Most universities across Sweden are research-oriented and may present its students with bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees covering all academic streams. Universities across the country are based through the Higher Education Ordinance. A large number of candidates continue their education onto secondary and upper secondary education. Most of the national programs provide Swedish, English, Math and Science among majors.
In Zimbabwe, graduation ceremonies are often associated with the guest of honor who most often is the ceremonial head of the institution. At state universities the President of Zimbabwe officiates as chancellor and guest of honor. Every graduate of a state university in Zimbabwe can claim to have shaken the President's hand. The person most associated with graduation at those institutions is Zimbabwe's ex-President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. At other State Institutions of higher learning the vice Presidents or any other Senior Government officials may preside.
Ceremonies for graduating students date from the first universities in Europe in the twelfth century. At that time Latin was the language of scholarship. A "universitas" was a guild of masters (MAs) with licence to teach. "Degree" and "graduate" come from gradus, meaning "step". The first step was admission to a bachelor's degree. The second step was the masters step, giving the graduate admission to the universitas and license to teach. Typical dress for graduation is gown and hood, or hats adapted from the daily dress of university staff in the Middle Ages, which was in turn based on the attire worn by medieval clergy.
The tradition of wearing graduation hats in Sweden has been in place since the mid-eighteenth century. The cap is typically a white sailor hat with a black or dark blue band around it, a crown motif, and a black peak at the front. The graduation hat tradition was initially brought into practice by students at Uppsala University. The headgear then became popular across several other European nations as well.