UMass Medical School (UMMS) awards master’s degrees and doctorates in nursing, biomedical sciences and medicine. Students from the Graduate School of Nursing, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and School of Medicine are hooded by representatives of their chosen profession and receive diplomas from the dean of their respective school. The event is held annually on the Sunday following Memorial Day.
The UMMS Commencement is characterized by traditional ceremonial splendor. Heralding the ceremony, the academic procession, one of the oldest university traditions, is led by the faculty recipient of the Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Service carrying the University mace.
The academic costume worn by students and faculty originated in the universities of the Middle Ages. The lining of the hood indicates the university by its colors; maroon and white signify the University of Massachusetts. The border of the hood indicates the academic discipline in which the degree is earned: apricot for nursing, blue for philosophy and green for medicine.
Greetings from the University Board of Trustees, the University president and the chancellor open the ceremony. The awarding of honorary degrees to "persons of great accomplishment and high ethical standards who exemplify the ideals of the University of Massachusetts" sets the stage for the keynote address. The ceremony culminates with the awarding of degrees and presentation of diplomas.