How Big is a Graduation Cap?

Graduations are one of life’s most notable achievements and an event worth celebrating. Whether you’re graduating from high school, college, or another milestone such as military training, there’s a sense of pride in your accomplishment and you’ll want to look your best!

Your cap and gown will be your uniform for the momentous event, so let’s make sure you’re all set for the big day.

Graduation cap mortarboards measure somewhere between 8.5 and 12 inches. That’s between 22 and 30 centimeters. The mortarboard is the square part of the cap that sits atop your head.

This is the portion of the cap that often gets decorated by each student to show some unique style among hundreds or thousands of other graduates.

Graduation Cap Sizes

The Graduation cap can slightly vary in size. There isn’t an official size that all graduates must adhere to. It is standard practice for each individual school or organization to use a supplier that does supply one size for all of their graduates.

The 8.5 to 12-inch size does represent the vast majority of caps used today.

Regardless of the size of the top of the cap, the headband that surrounds your head can be adjusted for the individual wearer. An easy solution that doesn’t require any tools is to just fold the headband at the back to make it slightly thicker and more comfortable for people with smaller heads.

If possible, equipment such as bobby pins and even double-sided tape can be used for a more secure fit. You don’t want to constantly be worrying about your cap falling off as you’re walking the stage.

What is a Mortarboard?

This is the solid square portion of the graduation cap. It is often seen decorated with paint or some other artwork to represent the wearer. Oftentimes a funny statement will be seen written on the cap.

Decorating your cap may or may not be allowed, so be sure to check with your graduation department first. There is a risk that you will not be allowed to attend the ceremony with a cap that doesn’t meet guidelines.

Sizing Your Graduation Cap and Gown

The supplier chosen by your school or organization will be able to accommodate most people. They’ve acquired large quantities of these caps and gowns over the years for all head and body sizes.

Some caps also come with a velcro section in the back of the cap that can help further adjust to your needs.

If you so choose, you can purchase your own cap and gown and have them altered by a tailor to really ensure they fit you perfectly. Make sure to do this well in advance as there may be extra time needed to accommodate your alterations.

How to Correctly Wear a Graduation Cap

Most caps are designed in a way to make it pretty clear how they should be worn. A zipper, velcro, or slit usually marks the rear section of the cap. This will be directly under one of the four tips.

When looking straight ahead, you want all four corners of the cap to be facing north, south, east, and west.

The mortarboard should be parallel to the ground. This will help with keeping the cap on your head and prevent tipping to one side.

The tassel attached to the top button of the cap is usually worn to the right side of the cap. Some schools will have students move the tassel to the left to signify an “official graduation” moment of the ceremony.

When Should I Order My Cap and Gown?

The best time to order everything you need for graduation is as soon as possible!

This is especially the case now with supply chains being delayed and things taking longer than usual to arrive. You want to get your cap and gown ready for the ceremony well in advance, in case something goes wrong.

Not to scare you, but suppliers are not immune to the occasional mistake in shipping. You may get an incorrect size, color, or even nothing at all.

Graduation Cap Design Ideas

It’s finally time to put down those pencils and pens and get unique and design your cap around your interests or some other cool theme.

Celebrating your heritage, for example with a Mexican-themed graduation cap, or any other nationality can evoke a further sense of pride for both you and your family.

Many countries’ flags are easy to design on a square surface such as the mortarboard.

A younger graduate might enjoy a Disney or Marvel-themed cap, which is also very popular lately. A cap top designed to look like Captain America’s shield is an example.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s very important to check with your graduation committee or department to ensure your cap is allowed to be altered.

11 Funny Graduation Cap Ideas

Can I Use Hot Glue on my Graduation Cap?

Glue is an essential tool for attaching most decorations to graduation caps. Use Elmer Glue or another drying adhesive, which costs between $1.49- 49.99 in most craft stores, or use a glue gun.

Other materials like shimmer paint and pens make the graduation cap stand out.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Big is a Graduation Cap

Graduation caps, specifically the square portion called the mortarboard can range between 8.5 and 12 inches.

What is a Mortarboard?

This is the cardboard or plastic square section that sits atop your head. Usually, there is a button at the center to attach your tassel to.

When Should I order my Cap and Gown?

As early as possible, especially now with supply issues being more common. Give as much time to correct any mistakes as you can.

Am I Allowed to Decorate my Cap?

This really depends on your graduation department or committee at your school. It seems that most places allow you to decorate your cap, but not all.

Some may even prevent you from participating in the ceremony if you’ve failed to follow their guidelines.

Is it Safe to Use Hot Glue on my Cap?

Yes, as long as it isn’t too hot. Be sure to use a small amount on the cap in a location that is not easily visible first.
Nick Spieth