I didn't have the chance to wear my academic stole or honor cord during my undergraduate graduation.

Question: Would it be appropriate to wear the academic stole and honor cord to my doctoral hooding and convocation?

EDIT I should mention that at least one of the items was earned during my graduate career, if that has any bearing.

I can't find any guidance from my university.


3 Answers 3


Formal regalia for convocations are highly stylised - even the side to which a tassel falls can have meaning. It would not normally be appropriate to wear representations of achievement that are unrelated to the degree you are about to receive.

If the honor stole/cord has particular significance to you, you can write to your university to explain your situation and to ask for permission to wear it at your convocation. You should then abide by their reply.

  • 4
    In particular, this will give off the false impression that you did something resulting in the awarding of the stole/chord in your doctoral program. That's not a good idea in general. Mar 17, 2018 at 0:08
  • @StellaBiderman So if someone joins an honor society during their graduate career instead of their undergraduate career, would it then be appropriate?
    – iwantmyphd
    Mar 17, 2018 at 20:19
  • 3
    @iwantmyphd if you get a chord due to a society you’re a part of as a PhD, then it would be totally appropriate. I don’t see how that could be in question. Mar 17, 2018 at 22:12

Aesthetically, wearing a stole or cord with a hood seems unappealing. Practically, there is a slight chance it would complicate the hooding process. (It is surprising how hard even simple things like processing down an aisle can become when it's for a big life event, so making sure the hood goes on symmetrically and doesn't get caught on a stole or cord might be hard.)

Honestly, if I were you I would not consider wearing the stole and/or cord unless they have a deep cultural meaning to you (e.g. African-American stole of kente cloth). If they're purely academic or about undergrad activities--say, you did not wear an honor society stole for your baccalaureate graduation because you were embarrassed and now regret that--then don't look like you're bragging about your old undergraduate career while getting your Ph.D. You can take whatever pictures you want with the old stole and cord on your new gown, but focus on your current achievements at the ceremony.

If it is something deep--cultural recognition, perhaps recognizing a deceased parent--I describe next how to figure out the rules and a then a possible alternative.

Figuring out what the rules are and/or how to get permission. - For the doctoral hooding, talking with your advisor and the department staff in charge of this may work best. Above all, if the person hooding you (likely your advisor) disapproves, then do not disrespect them by insisting on it. The department staff will probably also know the rules for convocation. - Have you attended a prior graduation at your institution, and/or can you find pictures? I did not attend my own convocation for my doctorate, but many people (esp. undergrads) had decorated hats, inflatable toys, signs, etc. A meaningful symbol would not have been out of place.


  • You could probably wear a small pin (especially enamel, like a lapel pin) on the front of the robe.

  • You may be able to decorate your hat. I haven't seen Ph.D. students do this, but many bachelor's and master's students do.

  • Have family/friends bring something to put on right afterwards, like a meaningful stole or a flower garland. (Flowers would NOT survive if put on before the hood, anyway.)

  • Wear the stole under your gown and open the gown later when you take pictures. You may even be able to set it up to poke out of your gown, as the collar of a dress shirt would.

  • Wear something meaningful that shows despite your gown. For the sake of example, kente cloth pants, traditional footwear, a flower behind your ear, etc.

Congratulations! You're almost there!


I went through my doctoral hooding ceremony today, and wore my honor cords. No one asked or cared one way or the other. I saw a handful of other people (there were several hundred students being hooded) who also wore honor cords, medals, etc. So, I will answer this question by saying that I doubt that if you wear something unique that anyone will really care (as long as it isn't somehow rude or offensive), but to still ask if your university, college, or department have any guidelines. If not, make the most of it!

  • 1
    – Bill Nace
    May 12, 2018 at 2:03

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