Academic Dress (Regalia)

Photo of graduates in full academic dress clapping

The tradition for faculty and students to wear specific academic costumes to ceremonies dates back to the 12th century. The George Washington University (GW), initially founded as Columbian College in 1821, also followed this custom for a number of years. GW, along with many other educational institutions, follows "The Academic Costume Code" from the American Council on Education.

While our academic dress at GW varies by the degree type, there are several key pieces that you will see throughout Commencement Week.


Graduates earning a bachelor's or master's degree wear custom navy caps with blue tassels. Doctoral graduates wear caps that are often made of soft material like velvet and are not usually the conventional mortarboard shape.


All graduates earning bachelor's or master's degrees wear custom navy gowns with the GW logo embroidered on the right sleeve. The bachelor's and master's gowns are two different styles that by tradition are easily recognized. The bachelor's gowns have pointed sleeves and the master's gown have oblong shaped sleeves with wrist openings. The back of the sleeve extensions is cut square, while the front edges have a curved finish for a more refined look. Doctoral graduates from GW wear a custom navy gown with black velvet panels and chevrons. Faculty will usually wear a black gown but may wear theirs from the university where their degree was conferred. Usually, it is also black, but sometimes it may be the color of that school.

Academic fields may be indicated with their traditional color through the velvet of doctoral gowns: three two-inch bars on the sleeves and a five-inch border extending from the back of the neck down both sides on the front of the gown. These colors are consistent with those in the hood.


The most significant piece of the academic costume is the hood, which includes a velvet border and a satin lining. The velvet border indicates the field of study that the graduates earned their degree in and the color of the satin lining represents GW colors. Master's and doctoral graduates' hoods differ in size and shape, with the doctoral hood being the largest, followed by the master's hood.


Traditionally, academic fields are represented by specific colors at universities across the country and the world, including at GW.

  • Arts, letters and humanities - white

  • Commerce, accountancy & business - drab

  • Education - light blue

  • Engineering - orange

  • Fine arts, including architecture - brown

  • Law (JD, LLD, LLB) - purple

  • Medicine - green

  • Nursing - apricot

  • Philosophy - dark blue

  • Physical education - sage green

  • Public administration, including foreign service - peacock blue

  • Public health - salmon pink

  • Science - golden yellow

Regalia (Cap and Gown) Pre-order, Purchase and Rental Information
Wear your regalia to Commencement on the National Mall, school celebrations and individual recognition ceremonies, such as Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony. You can keep your regalia unless you are an M.D. graduate or have rented it.

  • bachelor's and master's regalia can be purchased during Grad Fair 2018, Thursday, March 22-Saturday, March 24, at the GW Campus Store. If you cannot attend the fair, you can purchase regalia online (link coming soon) until 11:59 p.m., Monday, April 16. There is a $25 shipping charge for online orders. Regalia orders will be shipped to the address provided at the time of purchase. Personalized announcements can be ordered online (link coming soon).

    • For purchases, select "Regalia Ship to Home" from the drop-down menu and then select your school

    • If you missed the fair or the April 16th deadline, you can purchase regalia at the GW Campus Store textbook desk during normal store hours from Monday, May 14 until Saturday, May 19; emergency purchases only Sunday, May 20. 

  • custom doctoral regalia can be purchased during the Doctoral Regalia Sale, scheduled on Wednesday, February 14, and Thursday, February 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; at Grad Fair 2018, March 22-24; and online (link coming soon) until 11:59 p.m., Saturday, March 31. It takes approximately six weeks, from the time of purchase, for manufacturing.

    • For custom doctoral regalia purchases, select "Order Custom Regalia". 

  • doctoral regalia rentals can be rented online (link coming soon) until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11. After April 11th, you can rent regalia at the GW Campus Store from Monday, May 14 until Saturday, May 19; emergency rentals only Sunday, May 20. 

    • For rental orders, select "Order a Cap and Gown" option; select "Doctor Degrees" from the drop-down menu and then select your school.

  • SMHS-M.D. regalia can only be rented at the GW Campus Store

Regalia (Cap and Gown) Purchase and Rental Costs*

  Bachelor's Gown & Cap with Tassel
  Master's Gown, Hood & Cap with Tassel
  Doctoral Gown & Tam without Hood - Rental 
  Doctoral Gown, Tam & Hood - Rental    $150.00
  Doctoral Gown - Custom Purchase   $557.60
  Doctoral Hood - Custom Purchase   $157.00
  Doctoral Tam - Custom Purchase   $136.00
  Souvenir Tassel   $9.00
  SMHS - M.D. (Gown, Hood & Tam with Gold Tassel) - Rental
  Law - Rental
  Contact Law School directly 202-994-6288
* Prices are subject to change.