Quick Tips: What to Wear (PDF)
Academic Regalia and other clothing guidelines
- Due to the formality of this occasion and safety concerns, please wear appropriate footwear; flip flops, clogs, very high heels, and loose fitting shoes are not recommended.
- It is requested that men wear slacks and a dress shirt with a tie. For women, slacks with a blouse or a dress is appropriate.
- Baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral caps and gowns differ from each other, as do the caps and gowns from other educational institutions. Please check your regalia for accuracy and quality before the day of the ceremony.
- Remember to steam your gown before commencement to remove wrinkles from packaging.
- Uniforms of the armed forces are the only apparel other than academic regalia that is officially recognized and permitted.
- No regalia (caps, gowns, and hoods) will be available at the ceremony.
All ornamentation (including pins, cords, ribbons, scarves, stoles, sashes, medallions, etc.) representing honorary societies, nationalities, student clubs or organizations, professional organizations, fraternities, sororities, etc., is not permitted.
Exceptions to this include students in the Penn State Harrisburg Honors Program, the Schreyer Honors College, and national honor society members, as listed below.
Penn State Academic Honor Cords
Undergraduate students graduating Summa Cum Laude will receive a blue and white cord; those graduating Magna Cum Laude will receive a blue cord; and those graduating Cum Laude will receive a white cord. Students will receive email notification from the Registrar’s Office on how to receive their honor cords. The levels were determined by a student’s cumulative GPA at the end of the previous semester. If students earn a higher level once final grades are received, they can contact the Registrar to retroactively receive the appropriate honor cord. Please note that graduate students do not earn honors. In American higher education, Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude are unique to undergraduate education.
Military Honor Cords
Undergraduate and graduate students who have honorably served, are serving, or are commissioned to serve in the U.S. military will be awarded an honor cord to wear at their commencement ceremony in recognition of their duty and sacrifice. The red, white and blue cords will be given to eligible graduating students, including associate degree recipients, in the following groups: active duty, reserve and National Guard service members; veterans; and graduates receiving a commission through Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and official U.S. Armed Forces recruiting programs. Students will receive email notification from the Veterans’ Affairs/Financial Aid Office on how to receive their honor cords.
National Honor Society Recognition
Members of nationally-recognized honor societies, who achieved their membership as a Penn State Harrisburg student, are permitted to wear ornamentation during the ceremony in the form of cords and/or pins. Penn State Harrisburg currently recognizes these honor societies:
- Alpha Lambda Omicron (political science, government, international and public affairs) which awards a double cord of red and white
- Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice), which awards a blue and gold braided cord
- Beta Gamma Sigma (Business), which awards a royal blue and gold braided cord with the Beta Gamma Sigma key on one tassel
- Kappa Delta Pi (Education), which awards a purple cord
- Mu Kappa Tau (Marketing), which awards a double cord of navy blue
- National Society of Leadership and Success (academic standing of leadership potential) which presents a black and white cord or a white stole with the Greek letters for Alpha Sigma Pi
- Omicron Sigma Sigma (homeland security, intelligence, emergency management and protective security) which awards cords of blue and gold
- Pi Alpha Alpha (Master of Public Administration and Undergraduate Public Policy) which awards a blue and gold braided cord
- Phi Kappa Phi (excellence in all academic disciplines) which awards a gold satin stole, braided navy and gold cords, and a medallion
- Psi Chi (Psychology), which awards a pin and platinum and blue cord
- Sigma Tau Delta (English), which awards red and black cords
- Upsilon Phi Delta (Health Administration), which awards a double cord of royal blue and red
- Upsilon Pi Epsilon (Computer science, cybersecurity analytics and operations, human-centered design and development, information systems, information sciences and technology, and security and risk analysis), which awards a double braided cord of maroon and white
Especially for Undergraduates
- Undergraduate academic regalia is a blue gown with wide sleeves and a blue mortarboard cap with a tassel, worn on the right front edge.
- You will move the tassel to the left edge after crossing the stage.
- Regalia sets must be purchased. Order online for pickup at the Bookstore.
Especially for Graduate Students
- Master's degree regalia sets must be purchased. Order online for pickup at the Bookstore.
Doctoral regalia sets may be purchased or rented.
- An in-person fitting is required for doctoral regalia. Contact the Bookstore for details.
- Graduate regalia is a black gown with pointed sleeves, a separate hood, and a black mortarboard cap with a tassel, worn on the left front edge of the mortarboard.