Mortarboards Around the World: A Global Perspective


Graduation ceremonies are a universal rite of passage, and one of the most iconic symbols of this academic achievement is the mortarboard. While the design and tradition of the mortarboard are widely recognized. Variations exist around the world, each adding unique cultural significance to this scholarly headwear. In this blog, we’ll explore the different styles and traditions of mortarboards across various countries.

United States: The Classic Black Cap

In the United States, the mortarboard is synonymous with graduation. Typically black, it features a flat, square board and a tassel that graduates move from one side to the other upon receiving their diploma. This style has become a staple in high school and university graduations across the country.

United Kingdom: The Traditional Academic Dress

In the UK, the mortarboard is part of a more elaborate academic dress. British universities, particularly older ones like Oxford and Cambridge, have a rich tradition of academic regalia. The mortarboard here often accompanies gowns and hoods that signify different levels of academic achievement and fields of study.

Australia: The Symbol of Academic Achievement

Australian universities have adopted a style similar to the British system. The mortarboard, often black, is with academic gowns and hoods. The use of colors and designs can indicate the university and the specific degree being conferred, adding a layer of visual distinction to the graduation ceremony.

Japan: Blending Tradition with Modernity

Japanese universities have a unique approach to academic dress. While mortarboards are not as commonly used, some institutions have adopted them for graduation ceremonies, blending this Western tradition with their own cultural elements. Students may also wear traditional Japanese attire, such as kimonos, making the ceremony a colorful and culturally rich event.

South Africa: Reflecting Diversity

In South Africa, the mortarboard is a key component of academic regalia. The country’s diverse cultural landscape is often reflected in the vibrant colors and patterns of the graduation gowns and hoods. The mortarboard, usually black, ties the ensemble together, symbolizing academic accomplishment across various cultural backgrounds.

India: A Mix of Traditional and Contemporary

Indian universities have increasingly embraced the mortarboard, particularly in more modern and private institutions. The mortarboard is typically worn with gowns that may incorporate traditional Indian elements. Creating a fusion of contemporary academic attire with rich cultural heritage.


The mortarboard is more than just a piece of headwear; it is a symbol of achievement and a bridge connecting various cultural traditions within the academic world. From the classic black caps of the United States to the culturally infused regalia of Japan and South Africa, mortarboards around the world showcase the diversity and unity of academic accomplishments.

If you’re interested in exploring other traditional headwear. Such as Scottish hats and caps, visit our site at Kilt Master. We offer a wide variety of authentic Scottish hats, perfect for anyone looking to embrace and celebrate Scottish culture.

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