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4 Diploma Designs

1. Standard the standard diploma was designed roughly 100 years ago and has not been changed since. It is used for all schools and undergraduate/graduate degrees except the ones listed below.

2. Columbia College the CC diploma is identical to the standard diploma except that it is written in Latin instead of English. This is out of respect to a CC tradition that goes back 250 years. Barnard college diplomas are also in Latin, and are of similar design. The only difference between Barnard and Columbia College diplomas is that the Barnard diplomas include the Barnard College seal.

3. Medical School about 20 years ago the medical school changed its diplomas to a very different design from the standard diploma. The new diploma is still in English but uses a different typeface and layout, as well as a double set of large Columbia Seals.

4. Law School shortly after the medical school changed its diploma, the law school redesigned its diplomas as well. This design is similar to that of the standard diplomas, but Law School diplomas are much larger, and the inscription is in Latin.

Over the past 250 years, the design of the diplomas has changed several times. Originally, diplomas were handmade for each of King's College's few students. Layout varied between schools and across the centuries. For example, some of the first School of Mines (now SEAS) diplomas were extremely large and had the signatures of more than twelve members of the faculty. Today, with thousands of graduates, diplomas are no longer done by hand.

If you would like to find out more on how the diplomas have changed since the establishment of King's College, the Columbiana Library stores many original old diplomas in 210 Low Library. Columbiana's "King's College Room" has a permanent display of diplomas from the College's first graduating class.

Columbia Seal and Motto

The Seal of the University depicts the College as a woman seated on a throne, speaking the words Auri El, ("God is my Light"), adapted from Psalms 27:1. In her right hand, she holds an open Bible bearing the Greek inscription, Logia Zonta, ("The Words of Life"), which alludes to St. Stephen's utterance in Acts 7:38. Above her head are the Hebrew characters for the sacred name, Yahweh, inscribed within a radiant triangle, and the motto of the University, In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen ("In Thy light shall we see light," Psalms 36:9).

Gathered around the woman's feet are three children, who represent her pupils. They stand over a scriptural citation from 1 Peter 2:1-2, which prescribes the manner in which they should receive her instruction: "Laying aside all malice and guile and as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby." In the background is the rising sun, a hieroglyphic allusion to Malachi 4:2: "The sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in its wings." The image of the University Seal is circumscribed by the Latin citation, Sigillum Collegii Columbiae Novi Eboraci, "Seal of Columbia College, New York."

The governors of King's College adopted this seal in 1775. Today, it is reserved for acts of the Trustees.

The diploma redesign project is an initiative of the Student Affairs Committee of the University Senate. For more information, click here. Any questions? Please email diploma@columbia.edu.