Graduation Hat

American Doctoral Tam         PHD Tudor Bonnet             UK Mortarboard


The graduation hat or cap is a significant item of academic dress and is instantly recognisable by everyone. But why is it such an identifiable item and why did potential graduates come to wear it?

The history of the graduation hat is a long one, going back centuries. It started when universities started forming in the 12th and 13th centuries and students and teachers were highly influenced by the church and typically wore clerical clothing. According to historians scholars wore long robes and hoods to keep warm in unheated buildings.

Oxford and Cambridge were the first schools to officiate academic dress although excessive apparel was forbidden in universities and it was suggested everyone should wear long gowns during ceremonies to create unity.

The graduation hat has changed through the centuries and has had many variations. The most popular style is the mortarboard cap which pairs with standard graduation gowns. These graduation hats are believed to have been developed in the 15th century evolving from hats known as birettas worn by Catholic clerics, scholars and professors. The origin of the biretta dates as far back as 1311 in churches.

So why does the graduation hat have that cardboard square shape? The majority of historians believe it signifies the shape of a book giving that scholarly appearance. However, others have said it resembles a mortarboard used by bricklayers to hold mortar and believe the reason the cap is square is because it represents the mortar board of a master workman. Due to the uncertainty of origin, the style has remained accepted and immensely popular at most educational institutions.

The graduation hat has been alive and evolving for centuries and will always remain an important part the academic experience.

Graduation Attire supply graduation hats for all types of ceremonies. We offer excellent value and high quality. We offer discounts on large orders and the more hats you buy means more savings for your institution. 

Contact us today on 01234 880956 or email us at [email protected] and our friendly sales team will deal with your order/enquiry.

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