What Does the Tassel on a Graduation Cap Mean


What Does the Tassel on a Graduation Cap Mean?

Graduation day is a significant milestone in a student’s life. It marks the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. On this special day, graduates don their graduation caps and gowns, walk across the stage, and receive their diplomas. One of the most recognizable features of a graduation cap is the tassel. But what does the tassel on a graduation cap actually mean? In this article, we will explore the symbolism behind the tassel and its significance to graduates worldwide.

The tassel is a dangling ornament attached to the top of a graduation cap, also known as a mortarboard. Traditionally, the tassel is made of silk, satin, or other similar materials and comes in various colors. The color of the tassel usually holds a special meaning, representing different achievements or affiliations. However, the placement and movement of the tassel throughout the graduation ceremony also hold symbolic significance.

The tassel is typically positioned on the right side of the graduation cap before the commencement ceremony begins. This placement remains the same until a pivotal moment during the ceremony, known as the turning of the tassel. This symbolic act takes place when all graduates are declared as official graduates, and they simultaneously move their tassels from the right side of their caps to the left.

The turning of the tassel is a powerful representation of transition and accomplishment. It signifies the completion of the academic journey and the transition from being a student to becoming a graduate. This momentous gesture is a collective celebration of all the hard work and dedication put into achieving academic excellence.

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Now, let’s delve into the different colors of tassels and their respective meanings:

1. Gold/Yellow: Gold or yellow tassels often symbolize academic achievement, such as graduating with honors or high distinction. They are typically reserved for students who have excelled academically.

2. Silver/Gray: Silver or gray tassels are commonly associated with achieving a distinguished level of academic performance. This may include graduating with honors, distinction, or high honors depending on the institution’s specific criteria.

3. White: White tassels frequently represent purity and innocence. They are often worn by students graduating from nursing programs or medical schools, symbolizing their commitment to providing care and healing.

4. Blue: Blue tassels often denote achievements in the field of education. They are commonly worn by graduates of teaching programs, representing their dedication to imparting knowledge and shaping young minds.

5. Green: Green tassels are typically associated with degrees in fields related to agriculture, forestry, or environmental studies. They symbolize a commitment to sustainability, conservation, and environmental stewardship.

6. Red: Red tassels often signify degrees in fields such as journalism, communications, or media studies. They represent a passion for storytelling, advocacy, and the pursuit of truth.

7. Purple: Purple tassels are commonly worn by graduates of law programs. They symbolize a commitment to justice, fairness, and upholding the law.


1. Can I keep my tassel after graduation?
Yes, many graduates choose to keep their tassels as mementos of their academic achievements and the culmination of their educational journey.

2. Can I wear multiple tassels on my graduation cap?
It depends on the institution’s guidelines and traditions. Some universities allow graduates to wear multiple tassels to represent multiple degrees or honors earned.

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3. Can I customize my tassel color?
In some cases, universities may allow customization of tassel colors to represent specific achievements or affiliations. However, it is essential to adhere to any guidelines or restrictions set by the institution.

4. Can I switch my tassel to the other side before the official turning of the tassel?
It is generally recommended to wait until the designated moment during the ceremony to move your tassel. This synchronized act represents unity and the collective accomplishment of all graduates.

In conclusion, the tassel on a graduation cap holds immense symbolism and significance. It represents the completion of an academic journey, the transition from student to graduate, and the celebration of achievements. The color of the tassel often signifies specific accomplishments or affiliations, while the act of turning the tassel is a powerful gesture of accomplishment and unity. So, as you proudly wear your graduation cap and tassel, remember the significance behind this timeless tradition.