Dressing for Academic Success — The Finnish Way

You might think a diploma would be the main thing a graduate would receive. In Finland, however, at least for those who earn a Ph.D., there are two other important mementos of the occasion: a top hat and a sword.

The headgear is commonly known as a doctoral hat. Unlike the square “mortar board” hats used elsewhere, schools in Finland award a silken top hat, handmade to fit the head of the recipient. The hat typically includes a gold-colored metallic emblem of the university, and the color frequently represents the field of study of the graduate:

▪ Doctors of Fine Arts use dark blue;

▪ Doctors of Law use crimson;

▪ Doctors of Medicine and Dentistry use dark green;

▪ Doctors of Military Science use grey;

▪ Doctors of Music use sky blue;

▪ Doctors of Theology use purple;

  • Doctors of Science (Technology) have the additional custom of wearing their top hats with an upturned brim.

In addition to the top hat, new Finnish doctoral graduates receive a sword. The sword represents the scholar’s fight for what he or she, though rigorous research, has found to be good, right, and true, according to the University of Oulu.

Read more interesting customs.

Read more fun facts about education.

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