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How To Wear Cap Gown And Hood

How To Wear Cap Gown And Hood


How To Wear Cap Gown And Hood: Embarking on the journey of academic achievement is a momentous occasion, marked by the dignified tradition of donning a cap, gown, and hood. Whether you’re a graduating student preparing for the commencement ceremony or a faculty member participating in the academic procession, understanding the proper way to wear these symbolic garments is essential. Our comprehensive guide, “How To Wear Cap, Gown, and Hood,” aims to demystify this age-old ritual, ensuring that you exude confidence and poise during this significant event.

We delve into the intricate details of academic regalia, explaining the history and significance behind each element. From the correct way to wear the cap (also known as a mortarboard) to the nuances of gown styles and the meaning behind various hood colors, we provide clear, step-by-step instructions and practical tips. By following our expert advice, you will not only look the part but also understand the rich traditions that these garments represent. Whether you’re a student, faculty member, or guest, this guide will help you embrace the essence of scholarly achievement with grace and respect.

How To Wear Cap Gown And Hood

What do you wear under a cap and gown?

Men – The best choice is a collared dress shirt and ties to showcase a professional and tidy appearance. Women – The best choice is a scoop-neck top with a modest cut or a collared blouse.

Under a cap and gown, the traditional attire worn for graduation ceremonies, there is a customary dress code that graduates adhere to. For many graduates, the attire beneath the cap and gown depends on the formality of the event and personal comfort. Typically, graduates wear semi-formal to formal clothing. For men, this often means a dress shirt, tie, dress pants, and dress shoes. Some may choose to wear a suit or a blazer and slacks. Women usually opt for a dress or a blouse with a skirt or dress pants. It’s important to choose an outfit that is comfortable and does not clash with the color of the gown.

Graduates usually wear appropriate undergarments such as undershirts, bras, and underwear that provide support and comfort. It’s advisable to choose undergarments that are neutral in color to avoid them showing through the gown. Comfortable shoes are also essential, as graduates may be standing or walking for an extended period during the ceremony. Many graduates opt for formal shoes that match the color of their outfit.

The choice of clothing worn under a cap and gown should reflect the significance of the occasion and the graduate’s personal style while adhering to the guidelines set by the educational institution. Being mindful of these considerations ensures that graduates look presentable and feel confident as they celebrate their academic achievements on this special day.

What is a hood for cap and gown?

Academic hood in blue with white edge, worn with graduation gown and mortar board (graduation cap) An academic hood is a garment that is worn around your neck and drapes over your shoulders and down your back. It usually features a coloured lining and sometimes has a coloured edge.

A hood worn with a cap and gown, often referred to as an academic hood, is an essential component of the traditional graduation attire. It is a symbolic accessory representing the graduate’s academic achievements and field of study. The hood is typically made of the same material as the gown and is worn draped over the shoulders and down the back, with a part of it hanging down the front. The colors of the hood and the lining indicate the graduate’s degree, the discipline they have studied, and the institution from which they are graduating.

The academic hood has several distinctive elements, including its length, width, and the specific colors used. The length of the hood signifies the level of the degree, with longer hoods denoting higher degrees such as doctoral degrees. The width of the velvet border, called the hood chevron, indicates the field of study. Different academic disciplines are represented by different colors. For example, blue might represent philosophy, green for medicine, or white for arts and letters.

Wearing the academic hood during the graduation ceremony is a tradition that dates back centuries and adds a sense of honor and prestige to the occasion. It visually communicates the graduate’s scholarly accomplishments and expertise to the academic community and the world, making it an integral part of the cap and gown ensemble, steeped in tradition and symbolism.

Who wears hoods at graduation?

The master’s degree recipient typically wears a hood in the color that represents their school or college.

Hoods are an integral part of the academic regalia worn at graduation ceremonies, and they are typically worn by individuals receiving advanced degrees, such as master’s and doctoral degrees. These hoods symbolize the wearer’s academic achievements, field of study, and the institution from which they are graduating. Bachelor’s degree recipients usually do not wear hoods as part of their graduation attire.

The tradition of wearing hoods at graduation ceremonies dates back to medieval times and has evolved over centuries. Today, the colors, length, and lining of the hood are significant and convey specific information about the wearer’s educational background. The length of the hood denotes the level of the degree, with longer hoods signifying higher degrees. The colors of the hood’s velvet border and lining represent the academic discipline or field of study. Each color corresponds to a specific subject area, allowing attendees to identify the wearer’s area of expertise.

During the ceremony, graduates receiving master’s and doctoral degrees wear hoods draped over their gowns. This practice is not only a symbol of academic achievement but also a way for the academic community to recognize and honor the specialized knowledge and dedication of these graduates. The tradition of wearing hoods at graduation serves as a visual representation of the diverse and accomplished individuals within the academic realm, highlighting their contributions to various fields of study.

Do bachelor graduates wear hoods?

Bachelor’s wear their gowns without hoods. The velvet trim from the hood signifies by color the type of Doctoral degree: blue trim for PhDs and yellow for ScDs.

No, traditionally, bachelor’s degree graduates do not wear hoods as part of their graduation attire. Unlike master’s and doctoral degree recipients, who wear hoods to symbolize their advanced academic achievements and expertise in a specific field, bachelor’s degree graduates typically wear a cap and gown without a hood. The graduation gown for bachelor’s degree recipients is plain and does not include the hood, which is reserved for higher degree levels.

Bachelor’s degree graduates, however, wear the cap and gown as a symbol of their completion of undergraduate studies. The cap, also known as a mortarboard, is a flat square hat, and the gown is a simple robe that is often black but may vary in color depending on the institution’s tradition.

While the wearing of hoods is not customary for bachelor’s degree graduates, the cap and gown remain significant symbols of academic achievement and are worn with pride during graduation ceremonies. The tradition of wearing these garments dates back centuries and continues to be an important ritual in academic institutions around the world. The attire worn by graduates, whether with or without hoods, reflects the level of their educational accomplishment and celebrates their transition from student to graduate.

How To Wear Cap Gown And Hood

What is the traditional significance behind wearing a cap, gown, and hood during academic ceremonies, and how has this tradition evolved over the years? 

The tradition of wearing a cap, gown, and hood during academic ceremonies holds deep historical and symbolic significance, dating back to medieval Europe. Originally, these garments were part of everyday attire for scholars and clergy, but over time, they became associated specifically with academic achievement and scholarly pursuits.

The cap, known as the mortarboard, represents the dignity of learning. Its square shape symbolizes the shape of a book, signifying knowledge and intellectualism. The gown, typically black, signifies the equality among scholars and the seriousness of the occasion. The hood, worn draped down the back, showcases the graduate’s degree level and field of study. The colors and designs on the hood are specific to the individual’s academic institution and degree, serving as a visual testament to their educational accomplishments.

As societies and education systems evolved, so did the tradition of academic regalia. Different countries and institutions adopted their own unique styles and colors, adding layers of complexity to the symbolism. Despite these variations, the core purpose remained the same: to honor academic achievements and celebrate the pursuit of knowledge.

In modern times, the tradition of wearing cap, gown, and hood has become a universal practice in educational institutions worldwide. It is a powerful reminder of the rich history of academia and the importance of scholarly achievements. Furthermore, it fosters a sense of community and belonging among graduates, connecting them to a long lineage of scholars and intellectuals. As this tradition continues to evolve, it preserves the reverence for education, reminding us of the enduring value of learning and intellectual growth.

What are the different styles and designs of caps, gowns, and hoods, and how do they vary based on academic achievements, degrees, or institutions?

The styles and designs of caps, gowns, and hoods in academic regalia vary widely based on academic achievements, degrees, and institutions, reflecting the rich diversity of education systems globally.

Caps, commonly referred to as mortarboards, are typically black and square-shaped with a tassel hanging from the center. The tassel’s position often signifies the graduate’s level of achievement. For example, in many countries, a tassel on the right side indicates the completion of an undergraduate degree, while a tassel on the left signifies a graduate degree. Doctoral students often wear a distinctive cap with a gold tassel, symbolizing their highest level of academic accomplishment.

Gowns, the flowing robes worn over clothing, also vary based on academic levels. Bachelor’s gowns are relatively simple, often with pointed sleeves. Master’s gowns have longer sleeves with a slit near the elbow, while doctoral gowns feature velvet or satin panels and bars on the sleeves, indicating the wearer’s achievement of the highest academic degree.

Hoods, worn around the neck and draping down the back, are perhaps the most intricate part of academic regalia. The colors and patterns on the hoods are significant indicators of the wearer’s academic discipline and the institution from which they graduated. The colors represent specific fields of study, and the lining colors indicate the institution that awarded the degree. Additionally, the length of the hood correlates with the level of the degree, with doctoral hoods being the longest.

The diversity in styles and designs of caps, gowns, and hoods serves as a visual language, conveying a wealth of information about the wearer’s academic achievements, field of study, and the institution they are affiliated with, making academic regalia a rich tapestry of symbolism and tradition.

Are there specific colors and symbols on the hood that represent different academic disciplines or achievements? How can one decipher these symbols?

Yes, the colors and symbols on academic hoods hold significant meaning, representing specific academic disciplines and degrees. Deciphering these symbols requires understanding the established code known as the Academic Regalia Intercollegiate Code. In this system, colors represent various fields of study, and the lining of the hood indicates the institution that awarded the degree.

Different colors signify distinct academic disciplines. For instance, white represents arts and humanities, while gold represents science. A few other examples include green for medicine, purple for law, and light blue for education. The velvet trim on the hood signifies the degree level; for instance, black velvet represents a doctoral degree.

The lining of the hood displays the colors of the institution that conferred the degree. Often, this information is publicly available, allowing individuals to decipher the specific institution represented. For example, if the hood has a white field with a crimson chevron, it indicates Harvard University.

The width and length of the hood, as well as the specific arrangement of colors, offer further insights. A wider hood indicates a doctoral degree, while a narrower one signifies a master’s or bachelor’s degree. The length of the hood correlates with the level of the degree, with doctoral hoods being the longest.

Decoding these symbols requires familiarity with the standardized code, allowing academics and attendees to recognize each other’s fields of study and the institutions they represent. This system of symbolism not only adds a layer of tradition and visual splendor to academic ceremonies but also fosters a sense of unity and identity among scholars from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

What are some common mistakes people make when wearing a cap, gown, and hood, and how can these be avoided to maintain the dignity and tradition of academic ceremonies?

Common mistakes when wearing academic regalia can detract from the dignity and tradition of academic ceremonies. One frequent error is improper wear, such as wearing the cap at the wrong angle or not adjusting the hood properly. To avoid this, individuals should familiarize themselves with the specific dress code of their institution, ensuring the cap sits flat on the head and the hood drapes gracefully down the back, reflecting the wearer’s degree level and field of study accurately.

Another mistake is neglecting the condition of the regalia. Worn-out or poorly maintained gowns and hoods can diminish the visual impact. Regular inspection and cleaning are crucial to preserve the regalia’s pristine appearance. Investing in quality attire and storing it properly when not in use can also prolong its lifespan.

Mismatched regalia is another common error. Wearing the wrong color or style of hood for one’s degree or field of study can be misleading. It is essential for graduates and attendees to ensure they wear the correct regalia, consulting institutional guidelines or academic dress codes if necessary.

Disregarding the significance of the ceremony by inappropriate behavior while wearing the regalia can diminish its respect. Wearing the cap, gown, and hood demands a sense of decorum and reverence. Engaging in respectful conduct during academic events, such as refraining from excessive talking or disruptive behavior, ensures that the tradition’s sanctity is maintained.

Understanding the correct way to wear academic regalia, ensuring its good condition, wearing the appropriate attire, and displaying appropriate behavior all contribute to preserving the dignity and tradition of academic ceremonies, honoring the significance of the occasion and the achievements it represents.

How To Wear Cap Gown And Hood


Mastering the art of wearing a cap, gown, and hood is not just about dressing appropriately; it’s about embracing the heritage and significance of academic achievements. By understanding the origins and intricacies of these traditional garments, you become part of a legacy that spans centuries. As you prepare to don your regalia, remember that each element carries a unique story, reflecting the dedication and perseverance that brought you to this momentous day.

By following the guidelines outlined in our comprehensive guide, you can confidently wear your cap, gown, and hood, embodying the essence of scholarly accomplishment. Whether you are a graduating student stepping into the next chapter of your life or a faculty member honoring years of dedication to education, wearing these symbolic garments with knowledge and respect adds depth to the ceremony.

As you stand among your peers, mentors, and loved ones, adorned in your academic regalia, let it remind you of the intellectual journey you have undertaken. May your cap, gown, and hood serve not only as attire but as symbols of your hard work, determination, and the pursuit of knowledge. Congratulations on your achievement; wear your regalia with pride and cherish the memories of this significant milestone.


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Sophia is a creative and passionate entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Bubble Slides, a rapidly growing company that designs and produces innovative and eco-friendly children's water slides. She continues to innovate and improve her products, always keeping in mind the well-being of children and the environment.

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