How to Wear an Academic Hood

Three Parts:Acquiring the Correct Academic HoodWearing the Academic Hood CorrectlyGoing Through a Hooding Ceremony

Academic regalia (or attire) was first instituted in the 12th and 13th centuries, and it is deeply rooted in the traditions from various academic institutions.[1] Once worn on a regular basis while attending academic institutions (and in some institutes, still worn daily) academic regalia has since become attire for ceremonial purposes only. Academic hoods are often worn during commencement ceremonies and graduation events. Unlike other hoods, academic hoods are meant to hang down low on the back and around the neck: they are never worn on the head. Sometimes institutions also sponsor a special hooding ceremony designed to honor the dedication and extraordinary effort required to attain advanced degrees. The color and size of an academic hood can depend on the specific degree earned, the major discipline, and the individual university.

Part 1
Acquiring the Correct Academic Hood

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    Decide that you wish to attend a commencement ceremony. If you are participating in a commencement ceremony, you will likely be required to buy or rent the relevant academic regalia. However, if you do not wish to attend a graduation ceremony, you do not need to purchase academic regalia in order to receive your degree. There are positives and negatives to attending a commencement ceremony.
    • Positives include being able to participate in parties, ceremonies, and events; being in the presence of family and friends; having a ceremonial marker of your accomplishment; participating in a centuries-old tradition; and being able to take official graduation photos.
    • Negatives include having to pay anywhere between $50-$1000 to either rent or purchase academic regalia, a garment you will likely never wear again. Some graduating students might also have to travel long distances to return to their university for a commencement ceremony, which can add to the total cost. Students who do not like crowds or large public events might prefer to skip official commencement exercises as well.
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    Figure out whether to purchase or rent academic regalia. Most universities will give you the option of either purchasing academic regalia (that you will be able to keep forever) or renting academic regalia (that you will have to return by a designated deadline). For most people, renting academic regalia is more cost-effective. However, if you are planning on becoming a professor, you might be expected to wear regalia as a faculty member at future events. In that case, purchasing your own regalia might be more efficient.[2]
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    Consult your university policies about regalia. Many universities have a specific provider of academic regalia and will not permit you to purchase regalia elsewhere. Other universities will allow you to buy or rent regalia from any provider you choose, or perhaps borrow regalia from an alumna. Always adhere to your specific school's regalia requirements to ensure that you are allowed to participate fully in commencement exercises.
    • Note that many universities have specific colors of academic regalia that you are required to get. Many American universities have, however, standardized academic hood types across universities. Many European universities still have unique kinds of hood. This is another reason why it is essential that you do your research before renting or purchasing any piece of academic regalia.
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    Know the parts of an academic hood. An academic hood has three distinct components: the shell, the lining, and the velvet trim. In general, the shell of the hood matches the academic robes; the lining shows off your institution's colors; and the velvet trim indicates the field in which you are receiving your degree.[3]
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    Tell your regalia provider what level of degree you are earning. Different types of degree lead to different shapes and sizes of academic hoods. To make sure that you acquire the correct kind of hood, tell your regalia provider whether you are earning an Associate's degree, Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, or Doctoral degree.
    • An Associate's degree hood is usually worn flat against the back like a cape or cowl.[4] Note that Associate's hoods are not as commonly worn as graduate degree hoods--you might not need a hood to be a part of your regalia..
    • A Bachelor's degree hood is 3 feet long and does not end in a sharp point.[5] Note that Bachelor's hoods are not as commonly worn as graduate degree hoods--you might not need a hood to be a part of your regalia.
    • A Master's degree hood is 3.5 feet long and comes to a point at the bottom.[6]
    • A Doctoral hood is the longest hood at 4 feet long. It has the sharpest point and also the largest trim of all hoods.[7]
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    Tell your regalia provider where you are getting your degree from. While many academic hoods are primarily black, hoods do have certain components that may show off the colors of the university in the lining.[8] It is possible that you will have to purchase a hood that will match the color of your academic robes. Make sure that your regalia provider has all relevant institutional information so that you match appropriately.
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    Tell your regalia provider what field your degree is in, especially for graduate degrees. American universities have a standard set of colors that indicate your field of study. These will affect the color of the velvet trim that lines your hood.[9] European universities are not standardized in the same way as American universities. Check with your institution to make sure you are purchasing the correct academic hood. If your university adheres to the standardized rules of regalia, you will have an academic hood with the following colors:[10]
    • Arts: White
    • Business administration: Drab
    • Communication: Maroon
    • Education: Light blue
    • Fine arts: Brown
    • Law: Purple
    • Medicine: Green
    • Music: Pink
    • Nursing: Apricot
    • Philosophy: Royal Blue
    • Science: Yellow gold
    • Social work: Citrus
    • Theology: Scarlet
    • Note that all Ph.D. students will wear a hood trimmed in the Philosophy Royal Blue color, even if philosophy was not your field of study. For example, a Ph.D. student in Biology will wear the royal blue hood, whereas an M.D. student would wear a hood trimmed in green.

Part 2
Wearing the Academic Hood Correctly

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    Determine whether you are supposed to put on your hood yourself. At some universities, it is customary to wear the doctoral hood throughout the entirety of the graduation ceremony. In this case, you would put on your hood yourself. At other universities, it is customary to wear your academic hood only after going through a special Hooding Ceremony. In this case, your academic adviser will place the hood on for you. Ask your university about guidelines for when you affix your academic hood.[11]
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    Unfold your hood completely with the colors facing out. The velvet lining that indicates your degree and institution should be facing out. You do not want to hide the colors that show your accomplishments![12]
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    Place the hood over your head. Note that an academic hood is meant to drape down the back. It is not meant to be worn over the head or face. Make sure the small, pointed end of the hood is placed in front. The long, draping hood should hang along your back. Again, the velvet lining with your special colors should be facing out at all times.[13]
    • Make sure that you have removed your graduation cap or tam for this step. You don't want your hat to get in the way of your hood.
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    Use a pin or shirt button to secure the hood. Many hoods provide a small cord that hangs in the front. You can use this cord to loop around a shirt button in order to keep the hood safely in place. If you are not wearing a shirt or dress with buttons, you can use a safety pin instead. Make sure that you secure the hood to the clothing that you are wearing beneath your academic robe. Once the hood has been secured to your clothing, you may close your academic robe.[14]
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    Ask a friend to turn your academic colors out in the back. In order for the velvet trim and inner lining to be easily visible, you will have to fold the part of the hood that is hanging down your back, out of easy reach.[15] Ask a friend, family member, or colleague to help you fold the hood properly. Your friend should flip the hood to make sure that the colors are prominent. The fold should take place just beneath the shoulders.[16]

Part 3
Going Through a Hooding Ceremony

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    Bring your academic hood with you to the graduation ceremony. Your superiors, professors, and school heads will award you with your achievement by placing your earned academic hood upon you in honor.
    • At some universities, you will not need to carry your hood with you. Instead, you will be expected to drop off your hood ahead of time. Follow your university's commencement instructions closely.[17]
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    Fold your hood in half. Make sure that the velvet trim stays to the outside of the fold and is fully visible. If the hood has any buttons or ties, make sure these are all unfastened before you fold your hood.[18]
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    Carry your hood up to the graduation ceremony staging area draped over the arm closest to the adorner and furthest from the audience. Usually this is the left arm, though some university ceremonies require that you drape your hood over the right arm. Make sure that the velvet edging is kept to the front. You also want the narrow end of the hood to be draped to the outside of your arm--not the inside.[19] After your name is announced, approach the area where you your hood will be placed upon you and hand the adorner your academic hood.
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    Face away from the adorner of the hood and remove your cap. Most academic regalia comes with a cap or a tam. These hats can get in the way of the hooding ceremony. Remove your hat and then turn your back to the adorner. This will allow your adorner to smoothly affix the hood to your robes.
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    Allow your adorner to hood you. Your superior, professor, adviser, or school head will lift the hood over your head and place it on your shoulders. She will then lift the academic hood over your head and face the small button loop at the front center of the robe downward, aligning it with your neck. Your adorner will place the velvet lining along your shoulders; this should sit so the remainder of the hood flows smoothly along the recipient's back. Your adorner will then turn the bottom half of the hood outward so that the inner lining adorned with the school colors is showing. Finally, the adorner will fasten the cord in the middle of the academic hood to the 2 buttons on either side of the back of the recipient's ceremonial robe if these are provided.


  • It is not typical to wear or be presented with an academic hood for a bachelor's degree, so check with the institution in which you are graduating if this is necessary.
  • Every institution and every degree involves a different costume and different customs. Make sure you double check the commencement and regalia requirements well ahead of time so that you do not make any mistakes.

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Categories: College University and Postgraduate | Campus Life