I am a Professor at a college in the US where we wear regalia to the student graduations. I have a PhD, but am about to complete another doctoral degree from a different university, neither of which are where I teach. Do I have to choose one gown to wear to graduation or is there a specific way to represent both degrees? I have yet to find any guidance on this!

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    Does the university you teach provide gowns for its staff members, possibly with different designs based on their academic positions within the faculty?
    – nick012000
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 15:12
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    Do as you please. Who cares, so long as you do not misrepresent yourself?
    – Anton
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 12:20
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    @Sixtyfive Not to diminish your personal reaction, but I wouldn't describe academic dress as being much of a 'display of power'. Having university officials on a stage or platform and giving them large salaries or fancy titles is surely much more of a display of power. Most Western academic dress is a evolution of mediaeval European religious dress rather than from the robes of kings or lords. And there is academic dress in many non-Anglo-Saxon countries, from Portugal to Thailand (where graduation ceremonies are very serious royal occasions).
    – dbmag9
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 16:01
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    You have got to wear two gowns. If you have four Ph.D. degrees, then you must wear four gowns. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 16:28
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    Cut both gowns vertically and then sew the left side of degree 1 to the right side of degree 2. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


As no one who matters will actually know which degrees you hold and what gown goes with which, the choice of gown will be yours! If you own both, choose the one that is the most distinctive, colourful, or photogenic.

That is what your graduands and their families would want for their photographs.

(If you only own one, then the choice has already been made for you.)

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    Unless any of the colors involved clash with what the students will be wearing, but this is also just a photogenic-consideration and of low priority
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 11:07
  • Or, if you really want to bear the expense of two sets of regalia, you could alternate which you wear. (Don't try to wear two hoods. It's generally improper in the United States and tacky everywhere.)
    – Bob Brown
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 16:15

Yes, you can wear whichever you choose, but the intercollegate rules laid down in the late 19th century suggested (but did not require) that you should wear the regalia of your most recent terminal degree.

On the other hand, I suppose you should probably wait until you earn your second degree before wearing it as part of your current faculty function. If you choose otherwise, as a degree-in-progess individual, your tassel would be worn on the right since you have not graduated yet.

I imagine you'd want to wear the gown of your degree granting institution at your own commencement as a student, and I'd check with your professors before doing otherwise.

The most important point is that you should not attempt to blend both styles into a uniform resembling a clown costume. For example, if you have earned hoods of two different colors, you should pick one color and its associated regalia and not attempt to include the other.


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    Actually, my beret (yep, beret) has the tassel affixed.
    – Buffy
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 13:30
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    Thank you for your answer. I have strong ties to both of my graduate schools and want to ensure that I do not disrespect either by accidentally skipping a known rule of etiquette. For that same reason, I will not represent my new degree until it is officially granted. Too many things can happen at the last minute!
    – Croft
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 16:26
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    @Buffy 'yep, beret' I couldn't resist: <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_cap#Finland> Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 17:04
  • Thanks, I made a correction and linked to some more info.
    – Ragaroni
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 22:11
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    Is there any such thing as an academic gown that doesn't resemble a clown costume?
    – Tom V
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 7:45

@Ragaroni's answer seems good for the US. Here in England-and-Wales, there are no intercollegiate rules and it would be a question for the internal regulations of the university hosting the graduation ceremony.

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    This is absolutely correct, but it's worth adding that 'internal regulations of the university' would, broadly speaking, translate to 'at Oxford and Cambridge follow the detailed rules which require that university's academic dress; everywhere else you can choose which doctoral gown to wear if you're entitled to both'.
    – dbmag9
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 21:18
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    Oxbridge doesn't really think that your university exists if you degree wasn't from Oxbridge.
    – D Duck
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 21:31
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    @dbmag9 You're right <admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/so/pdfs/2021/ordinance02.pdf#page=187>. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 8:10
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    @dbmag9 normal undergraduate graduations are on scarlet days (days of general admission to degrees)
    – Tristan
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 10:15
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    @Tristan and dbmag Yes, there's a difference between "the majority of graduation ceremonies" (which are not on scarlet days) and "the ceremonies at which the majority of people graduate" (which are on scarlet days). Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 10:48

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