A Comprehensive Guide to Graduation Regalia: Hats, Gowns, and Hoods

Graduation ceremonies are a milestone in every student's life, marking the successful completion of their academic journey. These ceremonies are not only a celebration of hard work and dedication but also a reflection of tradition and honor. One of the defining features of graduation regalia is the iconic cap, gown, and hood. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of graduation gowns, caps, and hoods, and discuss their significance in this momentous occasion.

I. The Graduation Hat with Tassel:

The graduation hat, also known as a cap or mortarboard, is a symbol of achievement and pride. It is an essential element of graduation regalia that completes the look of a graduate. The hat is typically made of black fabric with a flat and square top. It is secured to the head with elastic or a band so that you can wear the graduation hat with tassel throughout the ceremony.

The graduation hat is adorned with a tassel, which is an ornamental cord secured to the top of the hat. The tassel holds great significance as it represents different aspects depending on its placement during the ceremony. In most institutions, the tassel is initially worn on the right side of the cap before being moved to the left side upon receiving the diploma. This simple act symbolizes the transition from student to graduate.

II. Different Types of Graduation Gowns:

Graduation gowns are an integral part of the academic regalia and vary in style, cut, and color depending on the level of degree attained. Here are the different types of graduation gowns commonly worn by graduates:

1. Bachelor's Gown:

The bachelor's gown is characterized by its open sleeves, which extend from the shoulder to the wrist, and its square-shaped back yoke. It is traditionally black in color, although some institutions offer gowns in different shades to represent various fields of study. The bachelor's gown is typically worn with a cap and tassel.

2. Master's Gown:

Master's gowns, like bachelor's gowns, have open sleeves, but they feature long, closed sleeves that extend to the wrist. These gowns are often made of more luxurious materials, such as velvet or silk, to signify the higher level of education achieved. The color of the gown may vary, with most universities using black or a color associated with the specific field of study.

3. Doctoral Gown:

Doctoral gowns are the most elaborate and distinguished of all graduation gowns. They are characterized by their bell-shaped, full-length sleeves and velvet panels on the front of the gown. The color of the velvet panels, known as facings, distinguishes the field of study. Doctoral gowns are typically made from high-quality fabrics, such as silk or fine wool, and may feature intricate embroidery or decorative elements.

III. Different Types of Graduation Caps:

While the traditional graduation cap, also known as the mortarboard, is the most commonly worn cap during graduation ceremonies, there are other variations that have emerged over time. Let's explore the different types of graduation caps:

1. The Mortarboard:

The mortarboard is the classic graduation cap that most people envision during graduation ceremonies. It consists of a rigid square board with a small, flat crown and a tassel hanging from the center. The crown is often made of fabric, while the board is usually constructed of stiff material. The mortarboard is worn parallel to the ground, with the tassel positioned on the right side before the ceremonial switching.

2. Tam:

The tam, also known as a tam o'shanter, is a round cap with a flat crown. It is typically made of velvet or plush material and is more commonly seen at doctoral level ceremonies. The tam is often worn at a slight angle on the head, and the tassel is positioned differently depending on the academic institution and local customs.

3. Soft Square Cap:

The soft square cap, sometimes referred to as the Tudor bonnet, is an alternative to the traditional mortarboard. It features a square top with soft, rounded edges, and is often made of velvet or a similar fabric. The soft square cap is typically worn by graduates at certain universities, distinguished by their set of customs and traditions.

IV. The Graduation Gown and Hood:

The graduation gown and hood are not only symbolic but also carry a rich history and tradition. The hood is a key element of graduation regalia that represents the academic achievement and field of study.

1. The Graduation Gown:

The graduation gown is a long, flowing robe worn over regular clothing. It serves as a unifying garment for all graduates, regardless of their degree level or subject. The color and style of the gown may vary, representing different aspects such as the field of study or the academic institution. The graduation gown is typically open at the front and features wide, open sleeves that allow for movement.

2. The Graduation Hood:

The graduation hood is a distinguishing feature of the academic regalia and holds great symbolic importance. It is worn draped around the neck, down the back, and over the shoulders, often secured with a small button or loop. The color of the hood's lining signifies the graduate's field of study, while the exterior fabric represents the institution granting the degree. The length, width, and shape of the hood's velvet trim also differ depending on the degree level and academic discipline.

Graduation regalia, including hats, gowns, and hoods, is deeply rooted in tradition and symbolic significance. The different types of graduation gowns, caps, and hoods discussed in this comprehensive guide reflect the levels of academic achievement and the diverse fields of study pursued by graduates. Whether it is the graduation hat with its meaningful tassel, the distinctive gowns representing various degrees or the hoods that signify academic accomplishments, each element adds a touch of elegance and time-honored tradition to the graduation ceremony. As students make their way across the stage, they proudly wear these iconic symbols, carrying with them the memories, experiences, and achievements of their educational journey.


Back to blog