The dos and don’ts of mortarboard (grad cap) decoration

Graduating from university is a big deal. Decorating your graduation cap is a great way to express yourself and share your excitement for what the future holds for you and your fellow grads. The following tips will help you make your mortarboard a memorable keepsake to wear on your big day.
university graduation cap

Make it special 

Your graduation cap is yours to keep, so make it meaningful and unique to you. Add a photograph or something that indicates your area of study. Use school colors or a motivational quote. Consider a short message or mantra that has kept you going throughout your education. 

Use an adhesive like hot glue to secure jewels or letters to your grad cap to ensure everything will stay attached throughout the entire ceremony. 

Finally, make sure your design is right side up. As with most other clothing pieces, the cap tag goes in the back. You might be surprised how many graduation cap designs end up upside down! 

Plan ahead 

Start early to make sure you have ample time to gather supplies you need and make your design as attractive and remarkable as possible. Decorating your grad cap early also ensures that adhesives have time to dry completely prior to your ceremony. 

Be appropriate 

While decorating your grad cap is a fun way to express yourself and your accomplishments, don't use any inappropriate items, symbols or words. You will not be permitted to wear your cap if university staff deem it inappropriate or offensive. 

Have an original message 

While you can take inspiration from others, show your originality and choose a design that represents you and your achievements. If you belong to a club or group, you may all choose the same overall theme, but do your own thing so no two caps are the same. 

You can express triumph over university classes, or let the world know you are ready to take on the next challenge. You can also choose to thank your parents, friends, or a professor who supported you in some way during your journey. 

Official guidelines 

Review the following guidelines when decorating your graduation cap. Grad caps will be reviewed and approved by university staff in advance of the ceremony. Caps that fail to conform to these guidelines and are deemed inappropriate and/or offensive in nature will be confiscated. 

  • No advertisements, symbols, abbreviations, initials, words, slogans, patches, or pictures that refer to drugs or controlled substances, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons 

  • Nothing that denotes or advocates drug use, violence, illegal activity, or disruptive behaviour detrimental or threatening to the safety and welfare of others 

  • No obscenities, profanities, or words or images of a vulgar, sexual or graphic nature 

  • Only the flat, top surface of the mortarboard may be decorated, and nothing is to hang down from the sides of the cap or protrude from the top by more than one inch