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Dress Code for Graduation

If graduating in person, you must dress as follows:

  • Gown* and hood: 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.  Gowns and hoods are to be rented by the student (see below for clothiers who do this in Cambridge).  
  • Square (mortarboard) is optional
  • Conspicuous jewellery and hair accessories are not permitted

* Undergraduates (with no previous Cambridge degree) should wear their usual gown.  Refer to the Undergraduate Graduation FAQ page for further advice.

Dress Option 1:

  • A black dinner jacket or lounge suit.
  • A plain, long-sleeved, collared, white shirt.
  • Formal black shoes - polished, please. Sandals are not permitted.
  • Unpatterned black or very dark grey socks.
  • White bow-tie and bands must be worn.

Dress Option 2:

  • A black skirt suit or trouser suit, or a black skirt without a jacket, or a black, long-sleeved dress.  A black cardigan may be worn if dress is short-sleeved.  
  • A plain, long-sleeved, white shirt or blouse.  Basically, your arms must be covered.  
  • Formal black shoes. Sandals are not permitted.
  • Unpatterned black, nearly-black, or natural-coloured hosiery. (No bare legs)
  • A white bow-tie and bands may be worn (optional) but only with a properly collared white shirt.

Hiring Gowns and Hoods

These can be hired or bought from one of the academic outfitters around town. You're advised to make your order as early as you can as they do tend to run out of some items. Be sure also to tell the outfitter which degree you are receiving as to ensure you are given the correct hood. The following links may be useful:

Clerical, Military or National Costume

Anyone wishing to graduate in clerical, military or national costume (which is in no way discouraged) should contact the Praelector's Secretary well in advance, as special permission has to be given by the Proctors. Squares (optional) may be worn in procession to Senate House but carried inside Senate House.

Other Dress Regulations

Clerical dress (a black cassock) may be worn instead of a suit by those suitably qualified. A male graduand wearing a cassock must also wear bands. If in doubt about a particular costume, please ask the Praelector's Secretary well before the date of the Congregation.


Graduands with accessibility concerns are welcome to use mobility aids in the Senate House. The Senate House does not regulate the style or colour of these aids. There is also step-free access to the Senate House. If other accessibility concerns arise, speak to one of the Senate House Constables on the day, and they will be able to assist you. 

If you will be leaving Senate House by the step-free exit, please advise your college tutorial office so they may inform the congregations team. This will allow Student Administration staff to hand you your certificate at the correct exit.


The following are not permitted:

  • Patterns (this includes lace, or pin-stripes on trousers)
  • Heavy jewellery, coloured or pendant earrings or bracelets; facial jewellery through piercings (other than earrings) should be removed.
  • Obtrusively unconventional hair styles 
  • Any head-dress other than a square (academic cap), except for religious reasons; the square is entirely optional, and most graduands dispense with it.
  • Sandals, slingbacks or boots, very shiny patent leather shoes, or shoes with very high heels, fancy buckles, coloured stitching or punching
  • Bare legs (natural-coloured tights are fine, as is unpatterned black or nearly-black hosiery)
  • Coloured or white socks (they must be black or very dark grey)
  • Coloured nail varnish, bright lipstick, or heavy eye make-up
  • Handbags


Guests who are members of the University are required by Ordinance to wear the (black) gown of their highest Cambridge degree. They can carry a square but do not wear a hood.

Further information

More information is available from the University web pages on Graduation Dress.

If in doubt, Undergraduates should contact the Tutorial Office, and Postgraduates should contact the Graduate Administrator.