The Ceremonial Conferment of Doctoral Degrees at the University of Turku has 800 years of academic history behind it. When universities were first established in the 13th century, academic ceremonies soon became resplendent occasions, especially in Bologna and Paris. From these universities, the conferment ceremonies were adopted to other universities in the Middle Ages, for example to the Uppsala University founded in the late 1400s. Finland and Turku got its first university, the Royal Academy of Turku, in 1640. The founding documents show that the Academy was tightly bound to the Uppsala University’s model and its established medieval conferment tradition adopted from Paris.
The first conferment at the Royal Academy of Turku was held in 1643, where ten Masters were conferred. In the next ceremony in 1647, there were already 18 Maters. At that time, the Master’s degree in Philosophy was also in a way a doctorate. It was the most important degree in the universities and it could only be achieved with the conferment. Actual doctorates could be attained in theology, law and medicine. Before the conferment, the candidate had to carry out a Bachelor’s degree, defend the thesis and give a special lecture which was a kind of a predecessor to the modern dissertation defence. In addition, those who were to be conferred as Masters had to be upstanding and exemplary citizens. After the conferment ceremony, there was a service and a banquet where a great amount of food and drink were offered to the guests. The first actual Ceremonial Conferment of Doctoral Degrees in Turku was held in 1781.