Dress code for the degree ceremony

The University's academical costume consists of a gown and a hood (the material and colour of which denote either the wearer's existing degree or the degree they are about to receive). It is the responsibility of the graduand to order and collect their own gown and hood from academical outfitters.

It is essential that graduands wear the correct academical dress when they are presented for a degree at Congregation. The full rules for academical dress are set out in the University's Statutes and Ordinances. Details can be found on the University website.

Persons taking their first Cambridge degree wear appropriate gowns (in the case of undergraduates their undergraduate gown, which varies in colour or design from College to College), with the hood of the degree to be taken. 

Graduation is a formal occasion and an appropriate standard of dress is expected. The dress code described below is strictly enforced at ceremonies. If you do not observe the dress code, you may not be permitted to graduate.

The overall aim is for a tidy and formal appearance. Formal clothing to be worn with academical dress is as follows:

  • plain white shirt with sleeves at a minimum of mid-forearm (a man's plain white shirt is acceptable for both genders)

  • plain black formal shoes (these can be sling-backs, but the toes must be covered, so no sandals). Very high heels are not advisable, due to the lengthy procession to the Senate House and the Senate House floor being slippery. Black boots should not be worn with a skirt, but are acceptable when worn with trousers

  • dinner jacket/black lounge suit or black skirt suit/trouser suit. Skirt can be worn without a jacket. 

  • if wearing a masculine suit, white bow-tie and white academic bands must also be worn (graduand to order from academic outfitters) 

  • unpatterned black socks worn with trousers

  • unpatterned neutral or black tights must be worn with skirts.

  • skirts must be formal and of decent length (no more than two inches above the knee)

  • no bare arms or bare legs whatever the weather (however hot)

  • graduands with smaller frames are strongly advised to use discreet safety pins to secure the hood to the gown (and even the gown to the clothing) to maintain a tidy appearance

  • no head-dress is permitted, except for religious reasons, where it must be black

  • the square cap, or 'mortarboard', is optional for Graduands at Cambridge; if you decide to wear one on the day you should take it off and carry it in your left hand inside the Senate House

  • hair should be of conventional style, neat and tidy

  • long hair should be clipped or tied back from the face 

  • jewellery should be minimal and discreet

  • no decorative belts

  • no bags of any variety 

  • a black cassock may be worn instead of a suit, but a graduand wearing a cassock must also wear a white collar (not clerical collar), bow tie and bands

National dress and uniforms

Regulations for national dress and uniform are very strict. If you wish to wear national dress or a uniform it is essential that you contact the Praelector's Secretary at least three weeks before the congregation, as the Proctor's permission must be sought.


There is no dress code for guests (apart from those who are Cambridge graduates, who should wear the appropriate gown). However, formal dress is preferred.

Academical dress hire

Ede & Ravenscroft 
71 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RJ
Tel: 01223 350048

Ryder & Amies
22 King's Parade, Cambridge, CB2 1SP
Tel: 01223 350371


If you have any queries or if you feel you cannot meet these requirements you must contact the Praelector's Office (room L11b) as far in advance of the ceremony as possible.