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Reading the Regalia: A Visual Guide to UVA’s Final Exercises

One graduate wearing a Bachelor's gown with a kente cloth stole, and another wearing a Master's gown and hood

Every May, thousands of students walk the Lawn in processions filled with black gowns, colorful tassels and deep slashes of rich velvet. Beyond that official regalia, students also express themselves by way of decorative cords around their necks and artistic works atop their mortarboards. (See some of our favorites from the recent past at

Indeed, every part of every outfit tells a story. Here is Virginia Magazine’s guide to “reading” the vibrant regalia ahead of Final Exercises—with a few examples of the more than 1,000 possible combinations.

Bachelor’s candidates wear a variety of stoles and cords to proclaim special achievements or memberships
For bachelor’s candidates, the tassel color indicates the specific UVA school.
Master’s sleeve has a longer “tail.” They also wear stoles and cords, but add a hood.
Only master’s and doctoral candidates wear the hood—with a velvet band whose color indicates the discipline studied, and a satin lining that indicates UVA as alma mater.
Doctoral candidates have velvet detail on gown and sleeve. A doctoral hood is 6 inches longer than a master’s hood.
Faculty members often wear more elaborate gowns and hats, representing the universities where they earned their highest degrees.