Academic Costume Code

Faculty members and graduating students wear gowns, mortarboards, hoods, tams and tassels--traditional regalia at the world’s oldest universities.  This academic garb not only contributes to the colorful pageantry of the ceremony but also signifies the wearer’s academic discipline and the institution that granted the degree.

Bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates wear classic black mortarboards.  Bachelor’s candidates wear a tassel in a color that indicates their school; master’s candidates wear a black tassel.  Doctoral degree candidates wear a black velvet tam with a short black tassel.

Gown styles symbolize the level of academic achievement.  The gowns for bachelor’s candidates have square-cut sleeves and are worn closed.  The gowns for master’s candidates have a long oblong panel at the sleeves.  Doctoral candidates wear gowns with bell-shaped sleeves trimmed with velvet chevrons.  These gowns may be worn open or closed.

Candidates for master’s and doctoral degrees wear draped hoods that signify their academic attainment. The lining of each hood is in the university colors, crimson and blue.  The 4-inch-wide velvet edging signifies the discipline in which the degree was earned.

The University of Kansas works to follow the American Council on Education guidelines for academic ceremonies regarding gowns.

According to the American Council on Education, in response to numerous requests from institutions, the Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies in 1959 prepared a guide regarding ceremonial regalia at commencement, convocations, hooding ceremonies, and other academic occasions.

“Gowns: At ceremonies where degrees are conferred, it is proper for a candidate to wear the gown in keeping with the degree to be received.”  At KU, students, faculty and staff are required to wear academic regalia when participating in commencement and hooding ceremonies.  Members of the faculty that have received their commissions may choose to wear their military uniforms when representing their departments at Commencement.

Academic Costume Code

Commencement is a time of celebration and we recognize that liberties are taken with the traditional academic costume during the “walk down the hill”, but as this is an academic ceremony at which degrees are conferred, the University of Kansas will continue to require students to follow the time-honored tradition.


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