The conferring of academic and honorary degrees takes place during Encaenia, a ceremony rooted in the traditions of Oxford. Encaenia is a Greek word meaning “beginning, commencement,” and the term has been used since the founding of King’s in 1789. The King’s graduation ceremony has not changed greatly over the years apart from the conferring of honorary degrees (although the use of Latin has given way to English).
Bachelors of Arts, Science and Music are conferred by the president of Dalhousie University, while Bachelors in Journalism and honorary degrees are conferred by the chancellor of the University of King’s College. Combined honours degrees in Contemporary studies, Early Modern studies, and History of Science and Technology are conferred together by the presidents of Dalhousie and King’s.
The president of Dalhousie and the chancellor of King’s confer the degrees of Master of Journalism and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction. Graduands are presented alphabetically by degree and come forward individually to be conferred; kneeling to receive the degree is optional. A rehearsal is held the afternoon before the ceremony itself.
The academic gowns and hoods of faculty and graduands, the procession led by the Apparator carrying the University Mace, symbol of authority, the music and the majesty of the setting make King’s Encaenia a happy, splendid, and memorable event.