How should I dress for my visits to math programs as an accepted student? As if I were showing up to a job interview? Shirt and tie? Suit?

The visit seems nicely planned by the program - jam-packed with meetings and events with faculty and students.

(I'd guess that this visit would also be a great time to talk to faculty to see who could be a great match for me as an advisor.)

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    Tweed jacket with patches on the elbows and a pipe... :)
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 18, 2020 at 16:24
  • Relevant search: academia.stackexchange.com/search?q=dress
    – henning
    Jan 18, 2020 at 17:55
  • Which country? If it's in the US, dress comfortably but not sloppily. Jacket and tie is overkill unless you're a (comparatively) sharp dresser who doesn't feel overdressed like that. Jan 18, 2020 at 23:23
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    If you're asking, you'll be fine.
    – Solveit
    Jan 19, 2020 at 1:48
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    @SolarMike, Birkenstocks, cut off surfer shorts, Old AC/DC T-shirt? ;-) Used to work in California anyway. People would confuse you with faculty of course, just like your suggestion would in Boston. Grateful Dead works for some generations.
    – Buffy
    Jan 19, 2020 at 13:50

6 Answers 6


Math professors tend to be pretty casual dressers compared to those in other disciplines. Wearing khaki pants and a collared shirt (polo or button down) would put one towards the dressier end of the spectrum at most places, and jeans and a t-shirt / hoody are usually unlikely to cause one to stand out.

I think that if you were to wear a suit and tie to these events you’d stand out. Not in a negative way mind you, it’s just that all of the faculty members you’ll be interacting with will be dressed much more casually. If you wear jeans or khakis with a collared shirt and sweater then you’ll look like you put in some effort and are taking this seriously, but aren’t dressed up so formally that you stand out.

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    I think it's possible that one would stand out in a slightly negative way when appearing at a math department in a suit and tie. There wouldn't be any real negative consequences, certainly, but it could absolutely make the social events with other admitted students a bit less comfortable. At best, I think most people would be left nonplussed. Jan 20, 2020 at 1:08
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    I suspect the most common reaction if you showed up to a math event in a suit and tie would be that everyone would assume you were lost. ("Can I help you? I think you're in the wrong place; the dean's office is in the next building.")
    – JeffE
    Jan 20, 2020 at 19:54

Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable within reason. Mathematicians will be judging you based on what you say and how you think, not what you wear. And if a future advisor for whatever strange reason judges you poorly based on what you like to wear, you probably don't want them as an advisor.

Remember, you've been accepted. You are now trying to find an advisor. You want someone who you will get along with. Be yourself. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Have fun discussing your mutual interests. Your attire is especially irrelevant in this situation [compared to the case where you haven't been admitted yet, and it's pretty irrelevant even in that situation too for most math departments in the USA]

Slacks and a shirt with a collar or a casual dress are pretty standard just because they are versatile, and you can pretty much go to any function in them and be at ease that your outfit fits in. But really, wear whatever you would normally like to wear at school or work. Perhaps there are some exceptions, but they are rather extreme ones, like showing up in clothes with very offensive phrases on them.


First of all, it depends on the University, so the best answer is probably to ask someone there, if you are already in personal contact with any Professors or graduate students there.

That being said, I would be extremely surprised if anyone expected you to wear a suit or even a tie. Many professors I visited with on my visits (Computer Science, U.S.) were wearing t-shirts, as they do on many days. Many others were wearing collared shirts, but I didn't see a single tie.

The safest bet is to wear a collared shirt and jeans, or something similar. Then you will look nice and put together, but not overdressed.


I wore khaki's, dress shirt, tie, and sport coat when I was in your position. The professor remarked that he was impressed that I took the occasion serious enough to look sharp. However, I would agree with others here that a tie is probably not necessary. Chinos, a dress shirt and a nice blazer/sport coat looks really sharp without looking overdressed in almost all professional occasions. I doubt anyone is expecting this level of dress given the current state of academic attire, but it would likely leave a favorable impression.


Business casual. If you assume 20 students, you'll have 1 that wears a suit (or even just a tie) and look oddly out of place. Probably 5 that wear jeans. And look fine, but maybe a little undergrad-y. The rest in business casual. Given the economics, probably not even that fancy of a business casual.

My rec (for a man, don't know women's attire): slacks (anything from khaki to wool), some sort of neutral shoes (not wing tips, not sneakers, plain black or brown leather is nice because it can go from dressiest to most casual). And a long sleeved shirt. Maybe a sweater. I wouldn't bother with a jacket. Uh...I shouldn't have to say this, but wear a belt.

If you are the worrying sort, you can bring a tie in your bag. But don' wear it. You'll look like that 5% geek from my population example above.

  • I think 5% is a dramatic overestimate here. I can't think of a single case of seeing a mathematician in a tie in the last decade, let alone a graduate student. Jan 20, 2020 at 1:07
  • discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/… (not a response, just thought might interest you)
    – guest
    Jan 20, 2020 at 1:35

I would call the university and ask if they have any particular preference. However, let’s assume that they do not, I highly suggest that you wear the type of clothing that makes you feel the most confident. Mind you, you need to balance that notion with the fact that you are going to be at a university. But the underlying idea is that if you believe that you look good, you’ll feel good, and that will shine through in an interview.

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    Calling the university to ask if you should wear a tie would be goofier than wearing a tie to an interview. Jan 19, 2020 at 1:02

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