How to wear a graduation gown and hood

Updated November 21, 2016

When you graduate with a bachelor's degree or a high school diploma, you generally wear a graduation cap and gown. When you earn a graduate or doctoral degree, however, you also wear a hood over your robe. The hood may seem like a complicated garment to master, but in reality it is a simple drape. In a few minutes' time you can understand how to wear a graduation gown and hood on your graduation day.

Check your college or university's policy on dress code for the clothing you will wear underneath the gown. Some schools will stipulate that you wear a specific type of shoe or a certain colour of trousers or clothing, so you should understand these requirements before you dress in your gown and hood. Remember to wear lightweight, breathable fabrics for your graduation clothing because you may get hot under your gown.

Put on the gown as you would wear an overcoat or a bathrobe. Some gowns are open in the front, others have a zipper. The gown should have sleeves that come down to your wrists, and the bottom hem of the gown should be midcalf length. For a doctoral gown, the sleeves will be bell-shaped with fitted wrists; graduate-level gowns have long fabric tails coming down off the wrist.

Drape the hood around your neck with the long end of the hood behind you. Sometimes the hood will have a small looped cord in the front portion; you can use this cord to pin the hood to your dress or to loop around the button on your shirt or blouse so the hood will not fall down your back as you wear it.

In the back of your gown, the hood should lie flat. The colour of the velvet part of the hood corresponds to the degree you have earned; for instance, education is light blue and music is pink. The inner, satin colours of the hood correspond to the university where you earned your degree. The hood should be positioned with the velvet on the outside and the satin on the inside. Sometimes the hood will have a small loop to wrap from velvet side to velvet side behind the loop, other times it will simply lie flat on its own in the right position.


Get a colleague or classmate to help you with the hood in the back on Step 4, as it may be difficult to see your own hood and adjust it for yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Graduation gown
  • Graduation hood
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