How to Dress for Commencement

  • Dear Candidate for Graduation:

    Graduation at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) is a solemn and formal academic occasion, one with a time honored history in academia. All participants in UMES commencement exercises wear university-approved regalia (cap and gown), which can be purchased from the University Bookstore. We request that each graduate contribute to the dignity of the occasion by following some fundamentally simple rules. The University reserves the right to request that unacceptable attire be removed, or to exclude from the commencement any candidate who does not meet acceptable standards of dress or conduct. Following these guidelines should ensure the best possible experience for our candidates and their guests.


    The academic robe is black with a V neckline and will show part of your clothing underneath.  Candidates who are not dressed appropriately will not be allowed to participate in the commencement ceremony. Please review and adhere to the following guidelines:

    Men should wear dark trousers and white shirt (suit jacket is not required); formal dress includes a bow tie, or a standard dress tie. Women should wear a dark dress, or dress suit, or dark skirt or trousers and blouse. Your academic regalia would then be worn on top of your dress clothes. Make sure you choose appropriate dress shoes and dress socks for graduation, as you will be required to stand for long periods of time, walk long distances, and use stairs and ramps.

    • Shorts are not permitted.

    • Boots and sneakers are not permitted.

    • No visible jewelry over the gown.

    • No flowers, pins, buttons, badges, or decorating the cap or gown.

    The mortarboard (academic hat) is to be worn with the front point over the forehead below the front hairline so that the flat board is parallel to the floor. The mortarboard is not worn on the back of the head with the board pointing upward. NO DECORATION OF ANY KIND IS TO BE PLACED ON THE MORTAR BOARD.

    Candidates for the Bachelor's degree should enter the arena with the tassel on the right, hanging near the right eye. President Juliette Bell will lead the undergraduate candidates in the Changing of the Tassel ceremony. Undergraduate candidates for the Bachelor's degree will move their tassel from right to left when instructed by Dr. Bell.

    Candidates for the Master's degree, will be hooded in the assembly area, and will enter the arena with the tassel at the left front of the mortarboard, hanging near the left eye. Graduate students do not participate in the Changing of the Tassel ceremony.

    Candidates for the Doctoral degree will enter the arena carrying the hood over their left arm, to be hooded on the dais.


    While a spirit of joy and enthusiasm is encouraged, commencement is a dignified academic event that recognizes the achievements of all our graduates, honorees and our guest speakers. Students and guest are expected to maintain a measure of decorum consonant with the regal nature of commencement. Graduates are expected to return to their seats after receiving their diploma, and to remain seated for the rest of the commencement ceremony. Family and guests are asked to remain seated for the entire exercise, refraining from leaving their seats in order to take pictures or to talk to graduates. Students and guests who elect to participate are expected to respect the rights of others, and to observe some simple guidelines.

    • Cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off for the duration of the exercise.

    • Noise-making devices, banners and posters are prohibited, as are all objects that would detract from the formality of the event. Participants and guest are asked not to bring these items into the venue.

    • Students and guests should remain in their seats until the faculty has proceeded in and out of the arena.

    • The aisles must remain clear throughout the commencement ceremony.

    • Applause should be held until all students have received their degrees. Names will be read quickly, and it is important that every name is heard.

    • Guests are requested to cooperate with any requests made by Commencement Marshals and UMES Event Staff.

    • No alcohol or illegal drugs will be permitted in or around the venue.  Graduates who appear to be under the influence of either will be removed from the lineup and will not participate in the ceremony. Improper conduct may result in disciplinary actions.

    • All degree recipients are requested to refrain from inappropriately celebrating (i.e., gyrating and dancing on stage, stepping, calling out names of others, loud, offensive noises and gestures) during the exercise.

    • Candidates should NOT have personal belongings in their possession during the commencement exercise, these items should be given to family or friends. UMES will not be responsible for these items.