Century of Style


On graduation day, high school, college and university graduates traditionally march in procession to Sir Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance dressed in regalia derived from academic and clerical dress codes common in medieval Europe.

During the colonial period, in the U.S. American colleges and universities used ceremonies and dress based on the British universities Oxford and Cambridge. In the 1880’s, students in New England started a movement to improve commencement week exercises and revived the traditions of college and university life.

An intercollegiate commission was formed in 1893 to establish a uniform code for caps, gowns and hoods. This code has changed slightly during the past 100 years.

The attire is considered a proud badge of belonging for those who have earned the right to wear it.

Black tassels are appropriate for all degrees, and colored tassels are worn by preference. Gold metallic tassels may be worn by doctors or presidents of colleges and universities.

Academic Honors

Graduates wearing colored Honors cords are completing an Associate Degree with Distinction. The honors designation is calculated from all grades used to fulfill graduation requirements, including classes from other accredited institutions, except those from the current semester/calendar block. To earn graduation with distinction, a student must meet the following graduation grade point average requirements:

Gold Cord With Highest Distinction 3.90-4.00
Red Cord With High Distinction 3.70-3.89
White Cord With Distinction 3.50-3.69

Graduates wearing the gold stole and tassel are members of Phi Theta Kappa, the National Honor Society for Two-Year American Colleges.

Graduates from the Honors Program have completed at least 15 credits of specially designated honors work and have achieved a cumulative 3.50 grade point average.

Faculty members and administrators also adhere to the academic dress code during the ceremony.