What to wear at graduation

As graduation is a formal occasion, an appropriate standard of dress is expected. The dress code below is strictly enforced at ceremonies, and if you do not observe it, you may not be permitted to graduate on a particular occasion. The Praelector is able to offer further advice on dress.

The dress code for graduation has two aspects: Cambridge academical dress and accompanying formal clothing.

Academical dress

If you choose to graduate in person at the Senate House, you are required to wear the following Cambridge academical dress at the ceremony:

Undergraduates and affiliated students: undergraduate gown of your college and the hood of the highest degree that you are about to receive.

Postgraduate candidates: either the gown and hood of your highest existing Cambridge degree or, if not already a Cambridge graduate, a BA or MA status gown and the hood of the highest degree you are about to take.

Candidates for degrees by Incorporation or the MA under Statute B.III.6: the gown and hood of the degree that they are about to receive.


You may hire or buy academical dress from any of the following Cambridge suppliers:

Ede & Ravenscroft
70-72 Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RJ
01223 350048 (shop) or 01223 861854

Ryder & Amies
22 King’s Parade, Cambridge CB2 1SP

A.E. Clothier

General dress code

Dress Option One

  • A dinner jacket or black, very dark grey or very dark blue lounge suit. These must be dark enough not to contrast obviously with a black gown.
  • A plain, long-sleeved, collared, white shirt.
  • Formal black shoes. Sandals are not permitted.
  • Unpatterned black or very dark grey socks.
  • White bow-tie and bands must be worn.

Dress Option Two

  • A black, very dark grey or very dark blue skirt suit or trouser suit, or a dark skirt without a jacket, or a dark, long-sleeved dress. These must be dark enough not to contrast obviously with a black gown.
  • A plain, long-sleeved, white shirt or blouse (unless a long-sleeved dress is worn).
  • Formal black shoes. Sandals are not permitted.
  • Unpatterned black, nearly-black, or natural coloured hosiery.
  • A white bow-tie and bands may be worn (optional) but only with a properly collared white shirt.

A black cassock may be substituted for a dark suit, skirt or dress in either Dress One or Two, but it must be worn with either a white bow-tie and bands or a clerical collar and bands.


The square cap, or 'mortarboard', is optional for graduands at Cambridge. If you do decide to wear one on the day, you should take it off and carry it in your left hand inside the Senate-House.


Conspicuous jewellery and hair accessories are not permitted.


While a mask is required it must be either plain or College branded.

Kilts and military uniform

University guidelines state that "All persons being admitted to degrees wear dark clothes with their academical dress. 'Dark' means 'black', although very dark grey or very dark blue would suffice. The principal goal is a formal, neat and tidy appearance". The University further notes that dark clothes should not contrast noticeably with a black academic gown. Kilts probably meet these requirements, but military uniforms are more likely to present problems. If you would like a dispensation, please send a photograph of yourself wearing the kilt, uniform or other non-standard dress at a similar formal, civilian occasion to the Praelector at least one month in advance, and he will submit it to the Proctors for consideration. Do not assume that permission will be given until the Praelector has confirmed it explicitly. A further problem with military uniforms is that the University's regulations preclude the wearing of headdress other than an optional square cap (or 'mortarboard'), and require men to wear a white bow tie. This is likely to conflict with Queen's Regulations for uniform.

Academic dress from another University

Cambridge graduates who are participating in ceremonies wear the gown and hood of the highest degree that they have already received from this University. For example, a Cambridge graduate who has continued with clinical medical training elsewhere should wear the Cambridge BA gown and hood when returning to graduate to the MA at Cambridge. The only time at which gowns from other universities are worn at Cambridge is by guests on scarlet days.