The Differences Between the Different Types of Graduation Caps and Gowns

There are many differences between the various types of cap and gown and many more graduation products. There are several important things you should keep in mind when selecting your graduation regalia. These include the reusability, the styles and colors, and the hoods. In this article, we’ll examine these aspects and show you the best options. Ultimately, it will depend on your personal preferences and budget. Let’s start by defining graduation regalia.


Graduation ceremonies are memorable events that mark the end of a student’s schooling. They’re filled with tradition and custom, and graduates must wear specific graduation attire to be considered a graduate. Once worn only once, these items may not be appropriate for other occasions, such as an important wedding or family reunion. Instead, many students opt to purchase used graduation robes and caps.

One of the first steps toward zero-waste graduation is to consider the reusability of the cap and gown. In the past, many gowns have been thrown away without being recycled or reused. A growing number of companies have taken the step to reuse and recycle these items. One of these companies, GreenerGrads, collects, and steam-sanitizes more than a million graduation gowns every year. It also rents the gowns to students, and students can return the worn ones to the company when they no longer fit. The average gown is reused 12 times. If a gown is unwearable, it’s recycled or used for stuffing in several products, including paper, plastic, and bags.


The styles of graduation caps and gowns vary considerably from country to country, depending on the university and the school’s traditions. The modern American bachelor’s degree graduation gown has straight sleeves and a plain style. Although historians have yet to agree on the origins of the mortarboard hat, many scholars believe that it was derived from a square hat worn by the Roman Catholic clergy. The cap’s tassel is black, while the gold tassel is reserved for the doctorate. Graduates are usually expected to wear black caps and gowns, which are often made of a lighter material than the robe.

Before wearing a graduation cap, be sure to part your hair or leave it down. The majority of ceremonies are outdoors, and fancy hairstyles can quickly become unmanageable on a warm day. Instead, try putting your top part into a ponytail and leaving it down. This way, your hair will stay neat under the cap and remain out of the way. A graduation ceremony is a high-profile event, so it should be as low-maintenance as possible.


Graduates of many disciplines wear different colors for their graduation caps and gowns. Some wear a drab shade to distinguish themselves from theology and other majors in the humanities. Other disciplines, such as physical science, use different shades to make their graduates stand out. For example, students in law school typically wear a crimson gown, while those in the social work or journalism field use a golden yellow gown.

The color of the shell reflects the color of the gown itself. Generally, black is the standard color, although some institutions use other colors. A doctoral gown is usually untrimmed and faced with black velvet. The hood and trims may be made of a different material. In the United States, many colleges and universities have their own rules on colors. Some institutions have their own unique color scheme, such as the scarlet undergraduate gowns at Stony Brook University.


Often referred to as “hoods,” graduation hats are used to mark the achievement of a degree. They are lined with official school colors and sometimes contain more than one color. Some hoods feature chevrons for added design, while others have only one color. A hood that is not inscribed with the school colors can be adorned with a tassel of the same color.

The color of the hood depends on the degree the graduate earned. For example, a Master of Science degree student would wear light blue hood trim, as this color represents both education and science. If the degree is not listed, the hood color should be the same as the shell fabric, which is light blue. Many academic institutions have simplified this process by categorizing degrees by larger disciplines, such as business, architecture, or law.


There is no single answer to the question of price of graduation caps and gowns, but they generally fall between $100 and $120, depending on the style and quality of the material. Most graduation regalia is made by Jostens or Herff Jones, two companies that provide regalia to universities in Southern California. Although Jostens declined to comment on the price of caps and gowns, student Briana Ronan was more than happy to donate her old Columbia regalia.

The price of a graduation cap and gown can vary widely from college to college. An undergraduate cap and gown can cost $50 in Southern California, while doctoral-level regalia can cost upwards of $1,000. Some colleges and universities offer financial aid programs to help students with graduation costs. A hood specific to a student’s major can add another $100 to the cost. Graduation regalia for graduate students at CSU or UC campuses vary considerably.