Tips Understanding more about Graduation Cords

Graduation cords

Graduation Honor Cords Meanings & Colors | Graduation Source

Graduation cords, also known as honor cords, are a significant part of academic regalia in graduation ceremonies. These cords symbolize various achievements, honors, and memberships in academic organizations or societies. They add a colorful and meaningful touch to the graduation attire, reflecting the hard work and dedication of the students.

History and Significance

The tradition of wearing cords at graduation dates back to medieval times, when academic regalia was first introduced. These items were originally used to signify the different levels of education and status within the academic community. Over time, the use of cords evolved to represent various honors and achievements.

Types of Graduation Cords

  1. Honor Cords: These are typically awarded to students who achieve high academic excellence. The criteria for receiving honor cords vary by institution, but they generally recognize students with high GPAs, top percentile rankings, or those who graduate with honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude).
  2. Society Cords: Many academic and professional societies have their own cords to denote membership. These organizations include the National Honor Society, Phi Beta Kappa, and other discipline-specific honor societies. Each society has its own color scheme to distinguish its members.
  3. Program-Specific Cords: Some educational programs or departments award cords to students who complete specific coursework, projects, or requirements. For example, STEM programs, arts departments, or community service initiatives may have unique cords.
  4. Military and Veterans Cords: Special cords are often awarded to graduates who have served in the military or are ROTC members. These cords recognize their service and dedication to their country alongside their academic achievements.

Colors and Meanings

The colors of graduation cords are not arbitrary; they often hold specific meanings:

  • Gold: This color typically represents high academic achievement and is often used for honor graduates.
  • Silver: Silver cords can signify membership in various honor societies or academic distinction.
  • Red, White, and Blue: These colors are often used to honor military service.
  • Purple and White: Commonly used for graduates in law or for those in certain academic honor societies.
  • Green: Often represents environmental sciences or medicine.
  • Blue and Gold: These colors may denote excellence in a broad range of disciplines.

Each institution and organization may have variations in the color meanings, so it’s essential to check with the specific academic body for accurate representation.

Wearing Graduation Cords

Graduation cords are typically worn draped around the neck, with the ends hanging down the front of the gown. Students often wear multiple cords if they have earned several honors, and there is no specific order in which they should be worn.


Graduation cords are more than just decorative items; they are symbols of a student’s hard work, dedication, and achievements throughout their academic journey. Whether denoting academic honors, society memberships, or special accomplishments, these cords carry significant meaning and pride for graduates as they celebrate their success and prepare for the future.

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