Dress Code and Decorum

Commencement is a formal academic occasion and should be viewed as such in dress and demeanor. The following guidelines are provided to help you prepare for your Commencement ceremony. Graduates choosing not to abide by these guidelines will not be allowed in the Civic Center and may be escorted from the ceremony.

Dress Code

The academic robe is black with a V neckline and will show part of your clothing underneath. The recommended dress is similar to what you would wear to a formal interview. Graduates who are not dressed appropriately will be asked to leave the assembly area and will not be allowed to participate in the Commencement ceremony. Please review the following guidelines:

  • Shorts are not permitted.
  • Dress shoes are suggested. The stairs to the stage are steep; please keep this in mind when considering heel height.
  • The gown should be mid-calf.
  • No jewelry on or over the gown.
  • No flowers on the academic robe. Flowers may not be carried.
  • The mortarboard (academic hat) should be worn with the front point over the forehead below the front hairline, so the flat board is parallel to the floor. (Not worn on the back of the head with the board pointing upward.) Students may decorate caps in accordance with specific guidelines.
  • Undergraduate students earning latin honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) latin honors cord; cords are distributed to students with the cap and gown. Cords are worn under the bachelor hood.
  • Candidates for the bachelor’s degree enter the auditorium with the tassel on the right, hanging near the right eye. After the degrees are conferred, the tassel is shifted to the left side.
  • Candidates for the master’s degree wear the academic robe, hood and mortarboard with the tassel on the left, hanging near the left eye.


Graduation ceremonies are, by their very nature, festive occasions. The festivity manifests itself in many ways including the dress of the students and faculty adorned in academic regalia and the warmth, joy and satisfaction of accomplishment. The ceremonies are also a solemn occasion; the actual conferring of degrees signifies long, hard work on the part of everyone involved: students, faculty, administrators, parents and spouses. As a consequence of the serious nature of the ceremony, students are expected to maintain a measure of decorum consonant with the occasion. Applause and other recognition of the conferring of degrees should be limited to a joint effort at the conclusion of each graduation group. Graduates are expected to return to their seats after receiving their diploma, and to remain seated for the rest of the ceremony. Family and guests are asked to remain seated for the entire ceremony, refraining from leaving their seats in order to take pictures or to talk to graduates.

Please note these additional rules:

  • No alcohol or illegal drugs will be permitted in or around the Civic Center. Graduates who appear to be under the influence of either will be removed from the lineup and will not participate in the ceremony.
  • Candidates should not chew gum or tobacco.
  • Air horns or other noisemaking devices are not permitted by graduates or guests and will be confiscated. Balloons and banners are not permitted inside the Civic Center during commencement.
  • Candidates should not have personal belongings in their possession during the commencement ceremony. Students are encouraged to leave valuables with family or friends.