Commencement exercises will be packed with graduation gowns, and hoods that is as many as the colors in the rainbow. All graduation hoods and robes will carry a unique meaning and symbolism.

Colors of Graduation Hoods and Robes and Their Meaning

With a range of collegiate classifications and traditions, it may be quite difficult to understand why we need to wear gowns and hoods with different colors during graduation day.

There are also different customization options available for graduation regalia that will make it more challenging to comprehend this.

In this article, we will share some of the meaning behind each color of graduation gowns. This will help you learn the reason behind the variation in colors in the graduation attire.

Black Graduation Gown for Doctoral Degrees

Commonly, schools will use black fiber for their doctoral gowns.  Some degrees may highlight piping or velvet that will reflect the academic field of the wearer.

Universities will use it due to its simplicity. It is the traditional color of gown and most universities will add some customization to separate them from the rest of the universities.

Apart from the graduates of doctoral degree, black gown can also be worn by the Board of Trustees. However, the black regalia will not be the reflection of their educational attainment.

This basically indicate their role. Also, instead of the traditional three chevrons, they will have four chevrons.

Oxford Blue Gown Represent a Century-Old Tradition

Wearing Oxford blue gown originally comes from Oxford University. Up to this day, this is still commonly used by the graduates of the said university. This is a tradition that has been going on for more than 100 years.

Regardless of what degree or program that you are graduating from, you will likely have to wear this color if you are graduating from Oxford. More and more universities are also employing this practice.

White Gown Is a Symbol of Humanity

Universities and colleges will use this graduation gown during commencement exercises to represent humanity.

Those who have degree on Liberal Arts, Fine Arts, and Literature will be wearing this academic regalia.

You can also see this on the trim of the gowns that will indicate the chosen subject or field of study of the graduates.

Different Variations of Gold Graduation Gown

Contingent upon your field of study, different scheme of golds can be used in your graduation gown. Natural Science and Social Science graduates will have trims of golden yellow.

Lemon color will be prominent among graduates of Information Management and Library Science. For those who have degree on Agriculture, they will wear gown with maize trim that resembles the color of the corn.

This is the representation of the farming knowledge that they have accumulated over the years.

Those who are graduating with a doctorate degree will also have hint of gold in their attire. This can be evident on the trim of their graduation gown.

Silver Graduation Gown Represents Communication

If you are graduating from a degree or program related in the field of communication, it is highly likely for you to wear silver gowns.

This includes the degree in Broadcasting, General Communication, and Oratory. Those who have finished their Veterinary Science study will have a darker shade of silver on their gown.

Other Colors of Graduation Regalia

About 125 Universities will have specific color in their graduation gown. For instance, the doctoral graduates from the Boston University will wear a mixture of black and scarlet.

Grads of Johns Hopkins University will have black and gold trim. Usually, the graduation regalia will reflect the color that represent the University.

This list will highlight some of the color that represents the degree and major of studies. Nonetheless, as we mentioned before, some universities will have their own tradition.

Blue – Colors that belong in the spectrum of blue are traditionally used in the gowns of graduates. For instance, peacock blue will be used by grads of Public Policy, Foreign Affairs, and Government Affairs. Midnight blue is intended for those with degree in Criminal Justice. Darker shade of blue will be worn by Political Science graduates.

Violet – If you are graduating on a city-planning program or Bachelor of Science in Architecture, violet blue will be the color of your graduation regalia. Lilac is for Dentistry and purple for Law graduates.

Drab – this is beige color that will be worn by students graduating from Accounting, Business Education, Business Administration, Commercial Science, and Commerce.

Color of the Cords

Cords are different from the stoles. The cords are only given to students that have achieved honor. The color of your cord will depend upon the honor that you achieved in a specific field. In some cases, this will be given to the students who managed to receive the certain GPA or those who are being recognized as summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude. This can also be used to represent Dean’s List and President’s List. The color of the cord can vary depending upon the university of college institution.

Gold – This is an indication of Latin honors for their High GPA score. This can also be the color to honor the members of the society for their achievements.

Black – This will represent the achievement in the field of economics and business.

Silver – This is used for the students who gained achievement in the degree of agriculture, math, and medical science.

The Color of the Stoles

In case you noticed that some graduates are wearing stoles, the color will typically follow the standard that was set by the prominent educational institution in the US. While some schools can deviate from the standard, the color of your stole is still an indication of your field of study.

  • Orange – Engineering
  • Pink – Music
  • Yellow – Mathematics and Science
  • Dark Blue – Pol Sci and Philosophy
  • Brown – Fine Arts
  • Light Blue – Education
  • Green – Physical Education, Pharmacy, and Medicine

These are just a couple of colors and the degree that they represent. As time passes by, there will be a new field or degree that will emerge.

There will also be a new major that will grow and will be separated from their original field of study. For those who are attending the commencement exercises, it will not be surprising to witness a sea of colors during the ceremony.

In case you have a multiple degree, you are only required to use a single hood and color that represents your discipline.

You may use the hood that will represent your highest attainment in study. If you have about two degrees at the same ranking, you should choose the most recent degree.

There are also instances when your degree will be unlisted. During this situation, there will be no official color. It will be up to the university or the college institution to determine the color that will be used on your graduation regalia.

The Color of the Graduation Cap

The color of the graduation cap is usually black that matches the color of your gown. However, there will be difference in terms of the tassels.

Black Tassel

The black tassel on your graduation cap is a symbol of your success. This serves as an inspiration that will help you face the new phase of your life. If your tassel is a mixture of black and red, this is an indication of your passion and focus.

This is used for the graduates of a specific study. Black and silver tassels on the other hand is the sign of professionalism.

Forest Green

Forest green tassels on your graduation cap is the symbol of your hard work and determination. This is the perfect time for you to cherish all the memories you experienced during your college years.


This color can often be seen on the graduation of high school students. However, you can also see them during college graduation.

This is often reserved to individuals who are part of the Dean’s list or those who have been recognized by the school for their special achievement or service.

Sometimes, gold tassels will be mixed with other colors such as black; these are intended for those who will graduate with a business degree. If it is combined with purple, you are most probably a grad of Law or Literature.


Universities will sometimes assign the lavender tassels to students who showed an exemplary achievement.

Note that the different colors of tassels in your graduation cap can also indicate the year you graduated and your alma mater.


It can be quite confusing to determine the meaning and symbolism of graduation hoods and robes.

However, once you get familiar to the different color associated with the commencement exercise, you will be aware on what each color will represent.

Apart form the standard color of the gowns, cords, tassels, and stoles, you are free to choose the color of your legging, socks, pants, dress, and shoes.

This gives you an opportunity to wear the color that represents your personality and mood during the ceremony.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article !