About the Attire


Candidates for the bachelor’s degree wear black mortarboard caps with tassels of their course color (see Academic Colors below). Candidates for first degrees wear the tassel on the right side of the cap until the degree has been conferred. Candidates for the MD, Law JD and SJD degrees wear an 8-sided black tam with a black tassel. Candidates for all advanced degrees wear black mortarboard caps with black tassels on the left side.

UW-Madison mascot Bucky Badger is pictured wearing an oversized replica of the new commencement gown for UW-Madison’s bachelor-degree candidates during a studio portrait at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on March 29, 2017. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)


Gowns represent the three principal levels of academic achievement.  The bachelor’s gown, symbolizing the first degree, is made of black material and has a closed front and long, pointed, open sleeves.  Master’s candidates wear a black gown with a closed front and long, closed sleeves.  The gown worn by doctoral candidates has an open front with bell-shaped sleeves.  Doctoral gowns are further embellished with velvet trim in the form of crossbars on the sleeves.  In spring 2017, the gown designs were updated to include the University of Wisconsin-Madison colors and crest logo, providing both a pop of red among the traditional sea of black and an additional display of UW spirit that’s recognizable to all.  Marshals wear cardinal gowns with white bars.


Bachelor’s candidates graduating with honors or distinctive scholastic achievement wear stoles, which are worn over the fronts of their gowns. Bachelor’s candidates from an honors program wear white stoles with three cardinal bars. Candidates that have distinguished themselves scholastically by ranking in the top 20% of their school or college wear solid cardinal red stoles.

Deans’ offices will notify students who are selected for Distinctive Scholastic Achievement and Honors. Stoles may be obtained at the University Book Store. Candidates will receive an indication of their achievement with a symbol next to their name in the commencement program.


The hood, which has a velvet edging whose color is determined by the degree to be conferred (see Academic Colors below) and a lining in the color or colors of the institution (cardinal at Wisconsin), hangs to the back from the neck. A cord on the hood is fastened to a button on the front of the candidate’s clothing. To avoid wearing the hood inside out, make sure that the velvet facing of the hood is visible under the chin and lies flat over the shoulders.

The bachelor’s hood is rather short with a narrow velvet edging and is worn only by candidates who previously received the baccalaureate degree. The master’s hood is considerably longer, has a wider velvet edging, and exposes more of the lining. The doctor’s hood has a still wider velvet edging, wide panels at either side, greater length, and a fully exposed lining. There is no hooding ceremony; candidates wear the hood throughout the commencement ceremony.



College of Letters and Science
  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics: Yellow
  • Arts (including Humanities, Letters): White
  • Chemistry: Golden Yellow
  • Journalism: Crimson
  • Music: Pink
  • Science: Lemon Yellow
  • Social Work: Citron
College of Engineering
  • Orange
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Maize
School of Education
  • Art: Brown
  • Art Education: Brown
  • Dance: Sage Green
  • Education: Light Blue
  • Fine Arts: Brown
  • Kinesiology: Sage Green
  • Rehabilitation Psychology: Light Blue
School of Business
  • Sapphire
School of Pharmacy
  • Olive
School of Nursing
  • Apricot
School of Human Ecology
  • Maroon
School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Green


  • Doctor of Audiology: Sage Green
  • Doctor of Juridical Science: Purple
  • Juris Doctor: Purple
  • Doctor of Medicine: Green
  • Doctor of Musical Arts: Pink
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice: Apricot
  • Doctor of Pharmacy: Olive
  • Doctor of Philosophy: Blue
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy: Sage Green
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine: Gray
  • Master of Accountancy: Sapphire
  • Master of Arts: White
  • Master of Business Administration: Sapphire
  • Master of Engineering: Orange
  • Master of Fine Arts: Brown
  • Master of International Public Affairs: Teal
  • Master of Laws: Purple
  • Master of Laws–Legal Institutions: Purple
  • Master of Music: Pink
  • Master of Professional French Studies: White
  • Master of Public Affairs: Teal
  • Master of Public Health: Salmon Pink
  • Master of Science (except Engineering majors): Yellow
  • Master of Science–Business: Sapphire
  • Master of Science—all Engineering majors: Orange
  • Master of Social Work: Citron