Commencement 2017As we quickly approach the 2017 Grantham University Commencement on August 5, I found myself thinking back on my own commencement last August. I remember how excited I was to have checked off another item on my list of things I wanted to accomplish in life, and how amazing it would be to receive my hood in the beautiful, one-of-a-kind Kauffman Center. As I was ordering my regalia for commencement, I began to think about the tradition of it all, the cogs in my mind really began to turn, and I knew I had to get to the bottom of this and share it with you!

Why are U.S. graduates still wearing this crazy getup at commencement ceremonies?

Did you know that academic regalia dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries? According to the American Council on Education, the donning of robes and tasseled caps is one of the oldest commencement traditions known to date. They were originally worn to keep warm in unheated, and exceptionally drafty buildings, more specifically churches.

It wasn’t until the late 14th century that universities began to use these robes to differentiate levels of education, and even colors to signify certain academic disciplines, much like is done throughout universities today with hood colors matching majors.

The American Council on Education adapted a code in 1932, originally created in 1895 and updated in 1959, that states what appropriate materials the collegiate gowns can be made of, the types of cuts, and what colors represent the academic fields.

  • Associates and Bachelor’s gowns have pointed open sleeves.
  • Master’s gowns have elongated sleeves, which open at the wrist, with the base of the sleeves hanging down. There is a slit for the wrist opening, but the rest of the elongated sleeve is closed.
  • Doctoral gowns have bell-shaped sleeves with the trimmings including velvet panels down the front and three bars of velvet on the sleeves.

* All three gowns are typically black, though some may have additional color coordinating with their degree.

The code states that prior to receiving your degree, at the beginning of your commencement ceremony your tassel should be on the right of your cap. Once your degree is conferred, that is when you switch your tassel to the left.i

What do GU grads need for commencement?

At the Grantham University Commencement, if you are an undergraduate student, you will need an undergraduate robe, a cap, and tassel.
If you are a graduate student, you will need a master’s robe, a hood, a cap and a tassel.

PRO TIP: If you are a graduate attending commencement this year, make sure you unpack your regalia as soon as you arrive to your hotel so the wrinkles can release. You may also want to iron or steam it prior to the ceremony.

Honor Cords & Other Regalia Decorations

We have had a lot of questions about honor cords and whether we provide them or they are purchased. Grantham University provides honor cords to students, at no extra cost, who meet the following criteria.

An undergraduate degree recipient achieving high academic performance is recognized according to cumulative grade point average as follows:

  • Summa Cum Laude – 3.90 to 4.00
  • Magna Cum Laude – 3.70 to 3.89
  • Cum Laude – 3.50 to 3.69

A master's degree recipient achieving high academic performance is recognized according to cumulative grade point average as follows:

  • With Distinction - 3.67 to 4.00

You will receive your honor cord when you check in the day of the commencement ceremony at the registration table.

There are other regalia decorations you can wear as well. At Grantham University, we encourage creativity and expression. We have seen some really great decorated caps throughout our ceremonies. This one is mine from last year!

Commencement 2017 capOur bookstore offers specific branch stoles for our military members and veterans.

Also, if you are a military member or first responder, we have a special braided red, white and blue cord to recognize your selfless service to your community and country. Those cords will also be available for pickup on the day of the commencement ceremony at the registration table.

Commencement is a weekend to honor the milestone you’ve accomplished and the people who helped make it happen. Congratulations on joining an elite group of Grantham University alumni. If you haven’t registered for commencement there is still time-Sign up here before June 30!


Hallie RogersAbout Hallie Rogers

​Hallie Rogers, Communications Associate, is part of Grantham's editorial board. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Government from Kansas State University and her Master of Business Administration from Grantham. With experiences like interning with the Kansas Legislature and holding the office of Symposium Co-Chair for the Council of College and Military Educators, Rogers is motivated by GU’s rich history to connect with students and alumni to help them reach their educational and professional goals.