To the sound of popping champagne corks, whistles and cheers, the University of Maryland yesterday awarded degrees to more than 3,600 students at graduation exercises at the College Park campus.

As Chancellor Robert Gluckstern conferred 3,100 undergraudates, 400 master's and 125 doctoral degrees, the mood was exuberant. Mortarboards carried initials, Greek letters, checkered squares or even, in the case of the architecture students, cardboard models of skyscrapers.

And when the engineering students' degrees were announced, they chanted in unison. "We got jobs! We got jobs."

Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) spoke to the students and 15,000 guests in Cole Field House about the graduates' responsibility to preserve a "free society."

Sarbanes, elected to the Senate in 1976 after serving three terms in the House of Representatives and recently a target of advertisements sponsored by the National Conservative Political Action Committee, did not mention the attacks against him.

"I am confident that you who are graduating are willing to accept the responsibility for keeping ours a free and open society," he said, and that you will "strengthen those qualities of good sense and decency which are the hallmarks of a civilized society."

Sarbanes received an honorary doctor of law degree. William A. Nierenberg, director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Gilbert V. Hartke, director of Catholic University's drama department, were awarded honorary doctorates in science and the arts, respectively.