Tassels are a sign of accomplishment

Graduation tassels consist of a series of colored threads, bound together by a metal clip and hung from a long corded loop. The graduation tassel has significance within the graduation ceremony, serving as a symbol of rank and accomplishment.


Traditional academic dress dates from the middle ages. In 1896, colleges and universities across the United States adopted a uniform code for commencement regalia that included the use of tassels.

Where it's Worn

The tassel is part of the traditional head wear worn by a graduating student, which is called a mortarboard. The tassel is affixed by a loop to a button on top of the center of the mortarboard.

School Affiliation

The graduation tassel can indicate a school affiliation, bearing the colors of the school the student is attending.

Type of Degree

A graduation tassel can also indicate the type of degree being received. For example, those receiving a Bachelor's degree in education may wear a light blue tassel while an engineering degree may warrant an orange tassel or a pink tassel for a degree in music.

Level of Degree

Those holding Doctoral degrees commonly wear tassels made of gold threads, while those with Master's degrees typically wear black.


For high school and university graduations, the tassel is usually worn on the right prior to receiving the diploma or degree. After receiving a diploma, the tassel is moved to the left side to signify that one has graduated.