University Graduation


The mace is a ceremonial staff carried by a university official, usually the mace bearer. It is made of wood or metal and adorned with intricate designs and symbols.

How to Put on Academic Robes for a Graduation Ceremony


Putting on the Gown

Courtesy of WikiHow You’ve studied hard and are now ready to graduate from university. But you have no idea how to put on the academic gown, how to get the graduation hood to lie properly, or how to place the cap on at the right angle. Though fairly simple to put on, the procedure for putting on your full academic robe will depend on what academic degree you are receiving at your graduation ceremony.

1Wear formal dress under your gown. 
Your graduation is considered a formal event, so you are expected to wear formal dress under your gown. Before you put on your gown, check that your outfit is appropriate for graduation.

  • For men, this could be pressed slacks or dress pants and a collared shirt or tie.
  • For women, this could be a formal dress and heels, or pressed slacks, a blouse, and dress flats.

2. Note the cut and style of your gown.

Your gown style will depend on the academic level you are graduating with. There are three levels:
  • Bachelor’s degree: The gown style for Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees are of the same design. The gown has open, pointed sleeves and is designed to be worn closed. The gown will fall no lower than your mid-calf. Bachelor’s gowns are generally black and Associate’s gowns can be black or in a color lighter than black.
  • Master’s degree: The style of Master’s degree gowns feature oblong sleeves, open at the wrist. The oblong shape is square cut in the black and the front section has an arc cut. Though you may be more comfortable wearing your gown closed, academic protocol allows the gown to be worn open or closed.
  • Doctoral degree: These gowns have three velvet bars on each sleeve and one vertical panel down each side of the gown on each side of the gown opening. The velvet panels and bars are generally black, but may be in the color representing your degree. The gown has bell-shaped sleeves and can be worn open or closed.
  • Gown modifications: Many colleges and universities have adopted modifications to the traditional design to make them specific to the institution. Modifications may include a gown color other than black, colored piping around the velvet panels, special trim, and embroidered patches with the degree color on the gown. For example, Boston University uses a red gown with a black trim, and Harvard University uses a black gown with embroidered patches in the degree color placed at the chest level.

3. Slide your arms through the entire length of the sleeves.

Though there will be slits on both sides of the gown, do not slide your arms through just the slits. Your arms should go through the sleeves and the gown should hang off your shoulders.
  • Master’s and Doctoral degree gowns may have a slit on either side, instead of a full sleeve. If so, slide your arms through the slits.

4. Pull the robe back so it sits on your shoulders.

The back of the garment should be resting close to the nape of your neck.
  • The robe may slip during the ceremony or as you are on the stage preparing to accept your degree. Be sure to check that it is sitting straight on your shoulders. If it is lopsided or slipping, lift the gown and pull it forward so it is sitting properly before you walk out on stage.

Putting on the Hood

1. Check the cut and style of your hood.

Depending on your degree level, the cut and style of your hood will fluctuate in size and cut.[7]
  • The Bachelor’s hood is about three feet long, has a black fabric shell, and a satin lining. Most Bachelor’s hoods are “Oxford Burgon cut”, which are lined on the inside with satin fabric in the color associated with your discipline or university.
  • The Master’s hood is three and a half feet long, has a black fabric shell, and a satin lining.
  • The Doctoral hood is four feet long, has a black fabric shell, and a satin lining.
  • The Master’s hood and the Doctoral hood are usually designed to lie flat against your back, making it easier to stay in position when worn. Most Master’s and Doctoral hoods will have a black shell, with velvet trim that extends around your neck, over your shoulders, and down your back.

2. Note the color of the lining of your hood. 

Though there are standard colors for each department or discipline (such as green for Medicine, dark blue for Philosophy, and purple for Law), your institution will determine what color your discipline receives.
  • The chosen color for your discipline will be featured on the edge of your hood. In the case of a Master’s or Doctoral hood, the colored satin will be on the back portion of the hood, by the velvet stripe.

3. Open the hood. 

The point of the hood should be pointing towards the ground. It should be all black on the outside when you open it.
  • The tip of the hood will drape down your back. The “V” section of the hood will sit on your chest. The opening of the hood will rest on your shoulders.
  • Note that some universities hood their Master’s and Doctor’s graduates on stage. If you are a Master’s or Doctoral graduate, you may not have a hood until the graduation ceremony.

4. Put the hood over your head.

  1. The “V” section should sit across your chest. Do not put your arms through the “V”. Just your head and chest area should be covered by the hood.

5. Turn the satin part of the hood outward at the neck.

You may need to ask someone for assistance for this step. A thin line of color should be visible around your neck. You should also turn the hood outward at your back so the colored satin line is visible at the back.
  • If the hood starts to slip or turn inward, use safety pins to keep it in place against your robe.

Putting on the Cap

1. Note the cut and style of your cap.

There are two types of caps, depending on your academic level:
  • Bachelor’s and Master’s graduates will wear a style called a trencher or mortarboard. The trencher will be made of solid black felt, with a flat square top and a black silk tassel. The square top will sit on an oval cap that has a small point in the front and a large point in the back.
  • Doctoral graduates will wear a bonnet style cap. The bonnet will be made of black velvet, with a tassel and a cord in the color of your discipline or institution.

2. Put the small point of the trencher on your forehead.

For Bachelor’s and Master’s graduates, adjust the trencher on your head so the small point is at the front of your head and the large point is at the back of your head.

3. Place the bonnet firmly on your head. 

For Doctoral graduates, put the bonnet on your head so it sits snugly and evenly on your head.

4. Ensure the tassel on the cap is on the right side of your face.

For Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral graduates, the tassel on the trencher or bonnet should always be on the right side. You will enter the ceremony with the tassel on the right side and change it to the left side once you receive your degree.