University introduces new diploma design

Jeremy Manier
Assistant Vice President of CommunicationsUniversity Communications

The University of Chicago has introduced a newly designed diploma, incorporating modern printing techniques along with design elements from historic versions of the diploma.

This is the first change to the University’s diploma in about 40 years, and designers were careful to respect traditions while making practical and aesthetic improvements. The new diploma bears similarities to a previous design first used in the 1920s, but it is less prone to counterfeiting and adds features such as a maroon foil appliqué to highlight the embossed University seal.

“A University of Chicago diploma carries great meaning for the institution and for our graduates, because it represents the attainment of the highest educational standards,” said David Fithian, Vice President and Secretary of the University. “The design reflects the rich history of the University and the quality of its degree programs.”

Diploma designs have varied over the University’s history, with embellishments in the earliest documents giving way to a more streamlined look in later years. The University’s bylaws give no specific guidance for how diplomas should look, other than to say that “literary honors and degrees” should be given with “suitable diplomas.” The basic wording on the diploma has not changed since at least the 1920s, and is the same for the new diploma.

The new design was first used at this year’s Winter Convocation on March 18, and it will be the design for all degree programs. The diploma is slightly larger than before to provide for more information about degree programs and honors. The case in which each diploma is presented also has been redesigned.

Designers changed the look of the engraved words “The University of Chicago” at the top of the document, returning to a relatively unembellished look from the 1920s. The new diploma is printed on 100 percent recycled, archival-quality paper, and is intended to be durable yet less expensive to produce. Officials declined to specify the added safeguards against counterfeiting, but said this is the most secure diploma design the University has produced.