A graduation stole is a piece of clothing that is usually part of the cap and gown regalia worn for high school and college graduation ceremonies.


Stoles, like many of the other graduation rituals, came about from English tradition. These traditions date back to medieval times. The Church of England was very involved in education in England, so the robes, stoles and cords scholars wore closely resembled the attire of the churchmen, and these clothes and accessories became a part of the American system as well.


A stole is two pieces of fabric sewn together to form a piece of clothing that drapes around the wearer’s neck and shoulders and hangs down the front of the robe. The ends of the stole are often pointed, and in many ceremonies cords are worn over them.

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Different Colors & Symbols

Stoles can be of any color, although what color they are is often specific to your school or university. They can be school colors or a color that traditionally represents your college or department. Stoles can also be personalized with embroidery to show off the accomplishments of the wearer, such as by adding a fraternity or sorority’s Greek letters, listing one’s major, or graduation year.

Other Types of Stoles

While graduation ceremonies are perhaps one of the most well known and common uses of stoles, they are used in other settings as well. Stoles are common amongst pastors, with the stole changing color and meaning depending on the time of the church year it is being worn. Variants of the stole, such as a sash, are used in beauty pageants and other events. It can also be used to show a person’s membership in a professional organization other than a college or university.

Other Names

The graduation stole can also be called an academic stole, or a graduation or academic sash.

About the Author

Morgon Luvall Newquist is an aspiring writer and in the midst of earning a degree in Latin at the University of Georgia and has been working as a freelance writer since 2007. Some of her work includes writing how-to guides for eHow, short stories and world-building articles for the video game Iron Grip: Warlord, and various other creative and professional projects.