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
  • Health administration - kelly green
  • 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
  • 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.

  • Check back soon for more information on purchasing and renting regalia. 

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   $850.70
  Doctoral Hood - Custom Purchase   $157.00
  Doctoral Tam - Custom Purchase   $136.00
  GW Custom Stole   $29.00
  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.