About VWU

Commencement Attire Policy

Commencement Attire Policy for Graduating Seniors

Virginia Wesleyan University's Commencement Ceremony is the capstone of a student's tenure at VWU and is a formal academic occasion. Students must be in proper academic regalia (cap, gown, hood, and academic tassel) to participate in the exercises.

The degree students earn from VWU is represented by the academic gown and hood worn at Commencement. The tassel is worn on the right side of the mortarboard (cap) prior to the degree being conferred and on the left side after the degree is conferred.

There is no greater expression of community at Virginia Wesleyan University than our commencement
ceremony. Guidelines for appropriate attire at Commencement have been established by the Commencement Committee in order to preserve the dignity and importance of the occasion and to show respect for the University, its graduates, and their families. On this day, we are one, and our attire reflects this. Black academic gowns and mortarboards are the dress of the day, complemented by dark skirts, dresses, or dress pants and black dress shoes for women and dark dress pants and black shoes and socks for men. Flip-flops, tennis shoes, bare feet, shorts, and other accoutrements that draw attention to an individual detract from the occasion, compromise the image we project on media platforms, and are not acceptable.

Virginia Wesleyan University's commencement ceremony includes a hooding ritual, whereby a faculty member places an academic hood over each graduate's head. This practice, which at many schools is reserved for those receiving master's, Ph.D., and professional degrees, bestows great honor on every graduate and adds to the formality of the occasion.

Shoes and safety: Please consider that you will be walking from the C-MAC to the University Commons,
navigating various surfaces, ramps and stairs as you process and receive your diplomas. Shoes with extremely high heels are not recommended as they create a tripping hazard. Also, in the case of rain, shoes could also become wet or muddy. Although you should wear dark, low-heeled shoes for the ceremony, you may leave your other shoes at your seat in the C-MAC, wearing them for photos until the precession begins and putting them on again after the ceremony. The C-MAC will be locked and guarded during Commencement.

Guidelines for Decorating Graduation Caps

Please take into consideration the following rules if and when decorating your graduation cap. Caps will
be reviewed and approved on the day of the ceremony. Failure to follow these rules will result in the removal of the cap. Students will be given a replacement cap and if none is available, will be denied walking in the commencement ceremony.

Only the flat, top area of the mortar board may be decorated. Nothing is allowed to dangle or hang from the sides or back of the cap (e.g. bows). Decorations must be flat to the surface of the cap. Three-D creations are prohibited. Nothing can be raised more than 1/2 inch off the top the cap. The cap's decoration should have no advertisement, symbols, abbreviations, initials, words, slogans, patches, or pictures that: refer to drugs or controlled substances, illegal activity, tobacco, alcohol, weapons, anything of a sexual or inappropriate nature, or anything that advocates disruptive behavior detrimental to the safety and welfare of other students. There should be no language or imagery that can directly/indirectly be interpreted or inferred to be obscene, vulgar, or lewd. The cap's decoration should contain no loose glitter (glitter glue or a picture of glitter is acceptable). The cap CANNOT make or emit noise; bells, horns, or anything that emits disruptions or distractions during the ceremony are prohibited.

Consider the following if decorating your cap: Thank a parent, grandparent, teacher, or friend; recognize the
company, field, job, or the grad school you will be attending/joining; give your graduation year, the branch of the military you will be joining, your home country's flag, inspirational quotes, Bible verses, or symbols, or
powerful sentiments.

Non-graduating student members of the Student Government Association will be monitoring decorated
graduation caps to determine appropriateness and adherence to the above policies. These members reserve the right to deny any cap they deem unfit, after which the wearer may substitute a replacement cap (limited supply) or be denied participation in the commencement ceremony if no caps are available for substitution.

Graduation Honor Cords

All honor cords are to be distributed and received prior to the Commencement Ceremony. No honor cords will be available on the day of Commencement with the exception of Latin Honors. Only Latin Honor Cords will be distributed to qualified graduating seniors on the day of the Commencement Ceremony in the C-MAC.

Graduating Seniors: Academic and non-academic regalia may be worn in accordance with guidelines set forth in VWU Commencement Policy (see below). If you are a member of multiple organizations, the choice of which adornments you choose to wear is up to you. In keeping with the honor and tradition pertaining to Commencement, you should exercise good taste and judgment in making these decisions. Students should only wear approved regalia to which they are entitled based on their official affiliations and qualifications.

Academic Honor Cords

Graduating seniors who are members of academic honor societies are permitted to wear an academic honor cord for each honor society in which they hold membership. Each cord is to represent one of the honors, memberships, and/or academic distinctions listed below. Each graduation cord must be either the unaltered specific approved cord of the honor society or the generic cord supplied by the Office of Academic Affairs.

  • Latin honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude)

  • Membership in an academic honor society, including Honors & Scholars (see list below)

  • Presidential Scholar (Remove following May 2019 Commencement)

  • Wesleyan Scholar (Remove following May 2019 Commencement)

  • Membership in PORTfolio

Virginia Wesleyan University recognizes the following Academic Honor societies:

Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology)
Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice)
Alpha Psi Omega (Theatre)
Alpha Sigma Lambda (Adult Honors)
Beta Beta Beta (Biology)
Chi Alpha Sigma (Athletic Academic Honors)
Delta Phi Alpha (German)
Eta Sigma Phi  (Greek/Latin)
Gamma Sigma Alpha (Greek)
Gamma Sigma Epsilon (Chemistry)
Honors and Scholars Association (Academic Achievement)
Kappa Delta Pi (Education)
Lambda Pi Eta (Communication)
Omicron Delta Kappa (Leadership & Scholarship)
Order of Omega (Greek)
Phi Alpha (Social Work)
Phi Alpha Theta (History)
Phi Eta Sigma (Freshman Honors)
Pi Delta Phi (French)
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science)
Psi Chi (Psychology)
Rho Lambda (Panhellenic)
Rho Phi Lambda (Recreation & Leisure)
Sigma Beta Delta (Business, Management & Administration)
Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish)
Sigma Tau Delta (English)
Sigma Zeta (Science & Mathematics)
The Society for Collegiate Journalists (Journalism)
Theta Alpha Kappa (Religious Studies/Theology)

The academic advisor of an honor society whose members have cords shall be responsible for distribution of the honor cord specific for their respective honor society. Be advised that some honor cords are included in the membership fee while others are an additional financial responsibility of the member. Please see your honor society advisor for more information.

If an honor society or other above designated group does not have cords, the Office of Academic Affairs (210 Clarke Hall) will supply a single generic or "unity" cord, in Marlin colors, to graduating members. The honor society advisor should submit a list of members who will need the unity cord ​to the Academic Affairs Office. Please note that Academic Affairs will supply no more than one cord to any graduating senior.

Military Honor Cords

Graduating seniors who are active duty, selected reserve, and veterans of the United States Armed Services, are permitted to wear a Military Honor Cord to recognize their service during the commencement ceremony. Military Honor Cords will be distributed in the Veteran's Services Office located in the Financial Aid Office with presentation of their Military I.D. card or DD 214.

Military Honor Cord will be one solid color.

  • Gold: Army

  • Royal Blue: Air Force

  • Navy Blue: Navy

  • Red: Marine Corps

  • Orange: Coast Guard

  • Dark Green: National Guard


Graduating seniors who have completed a full semester of study away are permitted to wear one stole and/or one pin representing the flag of the country in which they studied. The flag pin is to be worn on the left breast of the body, pinned to the stole or commencement robe. Each stole and flag pin must be approved by the Executive Director of the Quality Enhancement Plan.

In addition, graduating seniors who are current members in good standing of recognized non-academic social or service Greek organizations are permitted to wear one stole and/or one membership pin during the commencement ceremony. Each stole must be one style which has been approved by the Director of Student Activities. Membership pins are to be worn on the left breast of the body, pinned to the stole or commencement robe. Be advised that Greek stoles and membership pins are the financial and purchasing responsibility of the member or chapter following approval.

*In cases where graduating seniors have completed a study away semester and are members of Greek organizations, they may wear only one stole (approved Greek or Study Away stole) and/or one pin (approved flag pin or Greek membership pin).


Graduating seniors who have participated in non-academic clubs and organizations recognized by the University, are permitted to wear membership pins during the commencement ceremony. Each club or organization pin will be approved by the Director of Student Activities. Following approval, clubs and organizations are responsible for ordering, purchasing, and distributing membership pins to members. Pins will be no larger than 1"x 1" in size. Membership pins are to be worn on the left breast of the body, pinned to the commencement robe. Be advised that membership pins are the financial and purchasing responsibility of the club or organization following approval.