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When graduating from a university in the UK you are often conferred with an award before the graduation ceremony. I am therefore seeking clarification as to what date should be written on documents such as job application forms.

  • For an bachelor's degree, do I use the ceremony date or the award date?
  • For a PhD, do I use the date of the viva voce or the ceremony date?
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You should use the date conferred. Universities will have an official date where all degrees for the term are conferred on everyone. This is usually not the same date as the graduation ceremony as there can be multiple graduation ceremonies across multiple days, but trying to keep track of all of them would be confusing. It's much simpler to just pick one day after all the ceremonies and say all degrees are official as of that date.

That being said, I've never heard of an employer (or anyone) who really cares about the particular date as long as it's clear that you've already met all of the requirements of graduation.

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  • I was erring towards the conferral date and agree with your reasoning. Thank you. Dec 3, 2013 at 15:10
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    Incidentally, one case where it might matter is fellowships or prizes limited to people within a certain time period after receiving their Ph.D. If you're on the borderline of what's allowable, then a difference of a few months might be crucial. Dec 3, 2013 at 15:36
  • That is true, though I'd hope that those sort of committees might look more for the "spirit of the law" rather than the letter. Dec 3, 2013 at 18:59
  • Just a small comment: I would also suggest using a "month year" date, rather than a "day month year". While the conferral date is the correct date, many many many degrees are conferred in the same month as commencement or hooding or one's defense or whatever. So even if you aren't sure which is the correct date, you can kind of smooth that out by just giving the month. And even this is often more than most people care about---on my CV, I have a BA awarded in "Spring 2010", an MS in "Winter 2013", and a PhD in "Spring 2020". No one really cares much beyond that. Nov 18, 2023 at 19:13
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    @WesleyBland: Ah, then you don't know committees! ; )
    – Ben
    Nov 18, 2023 at 21:34
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In both the UK and US, you are entitled to use the title "Doctor" after you pass your viva. So I think in most situations you would be OK using that date if it would be useful. But I agree it will be simpler for verification to go with whatever's on your certificate. Which personally I hadn't even noticed I didn't have until a decade later when the EU's ERC asked for the documentation. (I'd gone to a hooding ceremony but blown off the main ceremony with the undergraduates, not realising that meant I hadn't picked up my diploma! The hood seemed cooler :-)

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    The first sentence isn't formally correct. At least in the UK, the degree isn't official until the ceremony - see e g. bottom of this page from Edinburgh. Practically, I don't think anyone cares about that technicality, but this is the policy of must UK universities I believe. Nov 18, 2023 at 21:30
  • Boys 'n the hood.
    – Ben
    Nov 18, 2023 at 21:36

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