C.U.H.&G.S. – Gown Guide

It is the custom for members of the University to attend C.U.H.&G.S. speaker meetings in academical dress. The text below and the links attached are added for members' information. Members of the Society who are not members of the University but who do have academical dress from other institutions are cordially invited to wear that should it be convenient for them.

Cambridge GraduatesUndergraduatesPostgraduatesDefinitive AdviceWearing: When and WhereNote on the IllustrationsNote on the Background

Cambridge Graduates

If you are already a graduate of the University of Cambridge (e.g. B.A., M.Phil.), you really ought to know what your correct academical dress is! If you are new to Cambridge, however, read on …



The University specifies only that undergraduates' gowns reach to the knees. Other than that, gown specifications are made by colleges. All gowns look like miniature versions of the Bachelor of Arts gown but most are modified in some way which is unique to the college.

King's CollegeTrinity CollegeSt John's CollegePeterhouseClare CollegePembroke CollegeGonville and Caius CollegeTrinity HallCorpus Christi CollegeQueens' CollegeSt Catharine's CollegeJesus CollegeChrist's CollegeMagdalene CollegeEmmanuel CollegeSidney Sussex CollegeDowning CollegeGirton CollegeNewnham CollegeSelwyn CollegeFitzwilliam CollegeChurchill CollegeNew HallDarwin CollegeWolfson CollegeClare HallRobinson CollegeLucy Cavendish CollegeSt Edmund's CollegeHughes HallHomerton College


Undergraduates wear the standard black square academic cap except that they may wear no hat at all and go bare-headed should they so wish. (This dispensation is unique to undergraduates.) This subject is much misconstrued and a member of the Society has written a short guide to it.


Undergraduates do not wear hoods except when graduating.



Postgraduates who are not already Cambridge graduates wear either the B.A. status gown (for those aged under 24) or the M.A. status gown (those who are 24 or over). The gowns are indentical to the B.A. and M.A. gowns respectively but without the strings hanging from inside the shoulders.


The standard black square academic cap.


No hood is worn with the B.A. status or M.A. status gowns except when graduating.

Definitive Advice

Definitive advice about Cambridge academical dress can be obtained from the Proctors.

Wearing: When and Where

Although originally written for C.U.H.&G.S. members, we have been told that this page has been of considerable interest to other members of the University. In particular, some junior members have asked us on what occasions academical dress is and – more to the point – can be worn nowadays.

Note on the Illustrations

The links are illustrated with drawings taken from Academical Dress of British and Irish Universities by G.W. Shaw and published by Phillimore (Chichester) in 1995; the Society is much indebted to the author for his permission to reproduce them.

The illustrations are schematic in the sense that the ordinary black material of a gown is shown as a grey speckle. This allows additional distinguishing features such as buttons and cords to be shown in black (or blue) and be immediately visible.

Each accompanying commentary is based on the text in Shaw's book. Occasional extra items have been added by the C.U.H.&G.S. W.W.W. Officer who would welcome notification of any mistakes he has inadvertently made.

Note on the Background

The background for this file and for the links is based on the pattern called "doctors' lace" which is found on some – though not all – of the black doctoral gowns.

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    Last updated St John Evang. ante Portam Latinam, 2005