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Ceremonial Traditions


Academic Procession

This commencement ceremony marks a special occasion for students completing degree programs offered by UW Oshkosh. The Chancellor grants degrees by virtue of the powers vested by the UW System’s Board of Regents. In addition, academic degrees may only be granted upon the recommendation of the University’s faculty.

The academic procession is a featured part of the commencement program—a symbolic declaration that all members of the academic community are bound by common purpose and shared commitment to the ideals of higher education, including the search for meaning, truth and understanding.

Academic Attire

The colors and apparel worn in the processional are symbolic of the Middle Ages. Because universities developed from church schools, both faculty and students were regarded as part of the clergy and wore clerical clothing based on monastic dress.

The traditional hat developed from the skull cap worn in cold weather. In Europe, a bonnet with a tassel is still worn, but in America it has been replaced by the mortarboard cap or tam with tassel.


The bachelor’s gown, with its long, pointed sleeves, is worn closed. The master’s gown has an oblong sleeve open at the wrist; the rear section is square cut. The doctoral gown often was furred, a decoration that survives today as the velvet on the front and sleeves. Graduate degree gowns may be worn open or closed.

Two students from UW Oshkosh Fond du Lac CampusThe tassel colors seen in the processional correspond to the field of study: crimson, Bachelor of Liberal Studies and Bachelor of Applied Studies; drab (tan), Bachelor of Business Administration; light blue, Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Science in Education and Bachelor of Science– Human Services; gold, Bachelor of Science; white, Bachelor of Arts; brown, Bachelor of Fine Arts; pink, Bachelor of Music; citron, Bachelor of Social Work; and apricot, Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Master’s and Associate of Arts and Science degree candidates wear black tassels.

The Hoods

The academic hood originally was worn over the head in bad weather. Now, it is added to the apparel of those with master’s and doctoral degrees. The hood also denotes academic achievement beyond the associates and bachelor’s degrees.

The master’s and doctoral hoods display a gold and white chevron, denoting the University colors. 

College of Business
Drab (tan):

  • Master of Business–Administration
  • Master of Science–Applied Biotechnology
  • Master of Science–Information Technology Management
  • Master of Science–Sustainable Management

College of Education and Human Services
Light blue:

  • Doctor of Education–Educational Leadership and Policy
  • Master of Science–Educational Leadership and Policy
  • Master of Science in Education–Literacy
  • Master of Science in Education–Professional Counseling
  • Master of Science in Education–Special Education
  • Master of Science in Education–Teaching and Learning
  • Master of Science–Human Services Leadership

College of Letters and Science
Citron (yellowish-green):

  • Master of Social Work

College of Letters and Science
Gold (yellow):

  • Master of Science–Athletic Training
  • Master of Science–Biology
  • Master of Science–Cybersecurity
  • Master of Science–Data Science
  • Master of Science–Mathematics Education
    Master of Science–Psychology

College of Letters and Science
Peacock blue:

  • Master of Public Administration

College of Letters and Science

  • Master of Arts–English

College of Nursing | Apricot:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Master of Science in Nursing

Honor Cords

Students wearing gold-colored cords have earned the Latin honors:

*** Summa cum laude (3.9 and higher GPA)
** Magna cum laude (3.75 GPA)
* Cum laude (3.5 GPA)

Students wearing white-colored cords have earned academic distinction within their college or unit. Students wearing other cords, stoles or insignia wear them in recognition of scholarly achievement in a department, honor society, study-abroad program or in the tradition of an international student’s native country.

Honors College

Honors College

Students who successfully complete the Honors College curriculum along with their major requirements earn Honors College designations at either graduate or associate level, depending on their cumulative GPA:

Honors College Graduates (3.5 to 4.0 GPA) receive Honors Medallions

Honors College Associates (3.2 to 3.49 GPA)are awarded Certificates of Recognition

University Seal/Chancellor’s Medallion

The University Seal/Chancellor’s Medallion symbolizes UW Oshkosh’s history and aspirations. At the center of the medal is a fountain of knowledge, divided in three to reflect the school’s commitment to realizing the creative power of individuals, the value of learning as a humanizing force and our aspiration to excellence. The word “learning” is centered at the bottom, serving as the foundation of the University’s mission. The stylized figure at the center forms the school’s initials. The outward sweeping W reflects the Wisconsin Idea—education reaching to the state’s boundaries. The date of the University’s founding appears at the bottom, representing the importance of those who came before us.