Post-doctoral party, karonkka

The post-doctoral party, karonkka, taking place in the evening of the public examination is an old academic tradition. The post-doctoral party is held in the honour of the opponent and the candidate acts as the host or hostess of the party. The doctoral candidate can decide the venue for the party. 

Invitations to the post-doctoral party

Traditionally, invitations to the post-doctoral party were not sent before the opponent had given his or her statement on recommending the approval of the doctoral dissertation. Nowadays, however, invitations to the post-doctoral party are sent in advance. It is customary for the candidate to contact the opponent before the public examination and ask whether he or she can start the party arrangements.

An invitation to the post-doctoral party should be sent, not only to the opponent and the custos, but also to the supervisor, pre-examiners and co-authors, as well as to anyone else who has clearly contributed to the dissertation. Also the candidate's companion, parents and close friends should be included in the guest list. However, the post-doctoral party is not a family party.

It is also customary to invite the persons from the audience who asked questions or made comments at the public examination to the post-doctoral party but, according to an unwritten rule, they are not to accept the invitation.

The doctoral candidate may formulate the wording of the invitation, but it should indicate the dress code, especially if the doctoral candidate prefers the guests not to wear tailcoats and evening dresses, or wishes to suggest alternative styles of dress.  

Dress code

In the post-doctoral party, men traditionally wear a tailcoat and women wear an evening dress. Men should also wear white waistcoat, unless the guests are exclusively male, in which case the waistcoat should be black. Female candidates, as well as female guests arriving with a partner in tailcoat, should wear a long evening dress, either black or other dark colour. In the invitation, this dress code is expressed as 'dress suit'.

Instead of a tailcoat, men may wear a dark suit, in which case the female partner should wear a short, formal dress. In the invitation, this dress code is expressed as 'dark suit'.

The post-doctoral party in general is a festive occasion and everyone should dress accordingly, i.e. not too casually.


The doctoral candidate is the host or hostess of the evening and the opponent is the guest of honour. The guest of honour sits on the candidate's right. The custos, on the other hand, sits on the candidate's left. If there are two opponents, the younger will sit on the candidate's left and the custos on the next place to the left. Other guests are usually seated in the order of their academic achievement.


The doctoral candidate offers food, drinks and possibly also some other entertainment as well. The candidate welcomes everyone to the party, after which the dinner will be served.  
Speeches should not be given until after the dinner and before the coffee. The candidate should begin the speeches by first thanking the opponent and then the custos. After this, the candidate should also thank everyone else who have contributed to the dissertation, in the order of importance. Finally, the candidate thanks his or her partner or, in the absence of a partner, someone else really close to the candidate. The speeches of thanks given by the candidate should be rather short and they should be given without notes.
The opponent will immediately reply to the candidate's speech. The opponent's response is usually light and informal, not too festive or serious. Should the custos like to say a few words, he or she can do so after the opponent has finished. After this the guests may say a few words in the order they were mentioned in the candidate's speech.
After the speeches, the party takes a more informal turn and the guests can enjoy the music, each others' company, etc.