Choosing the Perfect Graduation Cap: A Comprehensive Guide (2023)


Selecting the right graduation cap might appear straightforward, but the process involves careful consideration to ensure optimal comfort and a secure fit. In this guide, we delve into the dimensions of a graduation cap, covering mortarboard size, cap size, tassel length, and color variations. Understanding these elements is crucial for a seamless graduation experience.

Mortarboard Size

The mortarboard, the iconic square piece atop the cap, is a significant aspect of graduation regalia. Typically measuring 9.25 inches or 23.5 centimeters in length and width, it provides an ideal canvas for personalization. Some opt to adorn it with stickers or artwork, and specialized stickers are available for a customized touch.

Cap Size

Graduation caps come in two main styles: rigid skull caps and soft, folding, or elastic skull caps. Elastic skull caps, prevalent in the United States, offer convenience with their adjustable fit. The cap size is determined by the circumference of the skull cap, with small, medium, large, and extra-large options available. Additional features, such as laces at the back, aid in achieving the perfect fit.

Tassel Length and Color

The style of the graduation cap influences the tassel's length and attachment. In the United Kingdom, tassels are shorter, starting at the middle button, while in the United States, longer tassels are secured with a looped cord. Tassel color signifies the degree obtained, with black as the standard color. However, specific colors denote fields of study, adding a personalized touch to the regalia.

  • White: Arts or humanities
  • Orange: Engineering
  • Green: Medical field

Colors can be highly specific, with sage green indicating a focus on physical therapy and gold reserved for doctoral degrees. The tassel serves not only as a graduation symbol but also as a keepsake for many.

Other Uses for a Graduation Cap

Beyond the graduation ceremony, mortarboard caps have additional roles. In some institutions, they form part of the formal uniform and are worn during significant events, interviews, or exams. There's a tradition of wearing the tassel on the right side until graduation, after which it moves to the left. Interestingly, these caps also find use as mourning caps, featuring ribbons and rosettes in lieu of a tassel, particularly in formal settings or during periods of national mourning.


Choosing a graduation cap involves more than meets the eye. Understanding the nuances of mortarboard size, cap size, tassel length, and color adds a layer of significance to this symbolic attire. Whether for personalization, tradition, or formality, the graduation cap transcends its ceremonial role, becoming a memorable part of one's academic journey.

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