Ulster University Graduation

What to wear to graduation

While the University does not prescribe what style of clothes should be worn under the gown, graduation is a formal ceremonial occasion marking an important achievement and stage in a student's life. Graduands should, therefore, dress appropriately.

How to dress for graduation

You should dress appropriately for graduation.

Jeans, t-shirts, trainers and other casual items of clothing are not considered appropriate to be worn at graduation ceremonies.

We recommend securely fitting shoes with a suitable heel height should be worn as Graduands are required to walk up and down ramps and/or steps to the platform to receive their award.

Your academical dress

The University, with our partners Marston, has its own stock of academical dress and the cost of hire is included in the graduation fee. Academical dress is collected on the day of graduation prior to the graduation ceremony.

Your academical dress consists of a gown, a hood and a cap (mortarboard or bonnet).

Graduands are required to wear full academical dress comprising gown, hood and cap (mortarboards for those graduating with a taught course award or bonnets for those graduating with a research course award).

All items of academical dress must be returned when the ceremony is over.

Please read our instructions for returning your academical dress.


The different styles of gown indicate the levels of award of undergraduate, postgraduate and research.

Gowns come in four sizes and will be based on your height. It is best not to wear silky material immediately under the gown as it will tend to slip off the shoulders. The size options for gowns and mortarboards are provided during the online graduation process.


The different colours and bindings on hoods indicate the different types of award such as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Engineering etc and the corresponding categories at Masters level. You can consult our colour chart to find out more.

Hoods normally require to be pinned or buttoned to a shirt/blouse or jacket.

The Registry Office provides pins at graduation to enable graduands to pin the hood in place if necessary.

Mortar Boards and Doctoral Bonnets

Mortarboards and bonnets will be issued to graduates when they collect their gown and hood.

During the rehearsal, graduates will be advised when to wear and when to remove their mortarboards or bonnets.

Choosing your gown and hat sizes

Please use the information below to determine the size of your gown and hat that you require for graduation.

Please make a note of these so that you have the information available when you log in to the University's online system to register your intention to attend graduation.

The system opens in May for those wishing to attend summer graduations and in November for those wishing to attend winter graduations.

Gown Sizes

Your gown is based on your height and does not relate to clothing sizes.

Up to 5'3" (162cm) A
5'4" to 5'7" (163-172cm) B
5'8" to 5'11" (173-182cm) C
6'0" (182cm) and over D

Hat sizes

To determine which hat size you will need, take a measuring tape and place it around the circumference of your head, slightly above your ears, with the tape held closely to your head.

Measure your head and then compare the measurement with the table below to find your nearest hat size.

If you don't have a measuring tape, then use a piece of string or wool to measure around your head and then check the length using a ruler or other measure.

Head size Hat size in cmsCode
Small Up to 53cm S
Medium 54cm to 55cm M
Large 56cm to 57cm L
Extra large Greater than 57cm XL

Returning your academical dress

Once your graduation ceremony has finished, you should return your academical dress to the relevant area where Marston staff will be available to collect your gown, hood and mortarboard.

All students must ensure that their name has been 'checked off' before leaving the venue to avoid incurring a fine.

Graduates will be issued with a receipt when they return their academical dress.

Please ensure that you obtain your receipt and keep it as proof that you have returned all the items that were issued to you.

If we have no record of you having returned your academical dress, and you cannot produce your receipt, then you will be invoiced for the full replacement cost of the items concerned.

Treat with care

Graduates are reminded that academical dress is issued to them for the duration of the ceremony only, and remains the property of the University.

Items should be treated with care and returned in the condition in which they were received. While it is accepted that accidental damage may sometimes occur, there is particular concern about the numbers of gowns and hoods being returned heavily stained with fake tan and make-up.

Graduates are advised that all items will be inspected by staff on return, and if an item is deemed to require dry-cleaning before it can be used again, then the graduate may be billed for the cost of this.

Keeping your academical dress for longer

Academic dress can also be hired following the graduation from:

  • Jordanstown and Belfast: Examinations Office
  • Coleraine: Registry Office
  • Magee: Registry and Examinations Office

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