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100 Years of Tradition - The Meaning of the Graduation Cords

What Are Graduation Cords and Why Do We Wear Them? 

There are several staples in a graduation outfit that you are probably familiar with. There is the graduation cap and gown, of course, which is usually accompanied by a colorful scarf-like object known as a graduation stole, and sometimes one or more graduation cords

Graduates wear graduation caps and gowns and, depending on the size of the school, they might be uniform in color. Graduation stoles, generally, are worn by all students, with variations of colors. On the other hand, Graduation cords typically populate the crowd sparingly, with some graduates even wearing multiple, different colored cords. So why do only some graduates wear graduation cords, and what is their purpose?

The History Behind Graduation Cords

Like most traditions in academia, the origins of graduation cords stem from Catholic and Anglican practices. Multi-colored cords were used to distinguish clergymen’s status. Since the majority of early universities in the United States were founded by clergymen, many practices were transferred over. Cords began to be used to differentiate between different levels in academia, with cords being worn only by those with a master's degree or higher. 

What Are Graduation Cords Used For Now?

Nowadays, we have several types of graduation cords. They are used to signify different areas of studies and interests and can even mark the outstanding academic achievements of a graduate. 

Different Types of Graduation Cords and What They Mean

Honor Cords

Honor cords, as you may have guessed, are cords that are given for academic excellence. Universities, and sometimes high schools, reward honor cords to students who have shown outstanding academic achievement in a certain or group of fields. The most well-known of these being cords given to the valedictorian, summa cum laude, magna cum laude, salutatorian, and Dean's List students. 

Sometimes, high honor cords such as summa cum laude and magna cum laude are distinguished by several cords, with summa cum laude being given three cords and magna cum laude being given two cords.

Graduation Cords

Graduation cords can be used to signify affiliation with organizations such as Greek life and honor societies. These are distributed to all members of these organizations and share the same color and design for each member. 

Graduation Cords can also be given to students throughout their academic careers. Some universities give students cords for completing significant events during their collegiate careers, such as freshman convocation or ceremonies conducted by specific departments. 

Stand Out From the Crowd During Your Graduation Ceremony

If you are nearing your graduation ceremony and are looking to mark significant achievements or memberships you have participated in during your academic career, consider organizing a personalized graduation cord for your organization. Tassel Depot offers almost every graduation item you can think of, with various customizable features, such as color, embroidery, and style. With over 150 years of experience, we offer the highest quality graduation accessories, cords, tassels, and other novelty trimmings at competitive pricing. Visit our online store for all your graduation needs. 

Related Readings: 

Why Do We Throw Graduation Caps

How to Look Your Best At Graduation: Finding the Perfect Stole

For graduation cords, honor cords, and tassels for any occasion, visit the