Ask Abe: Commencement Tassels

An Alum

What do the different colored tassels at graduation represent?


The UW has 230-some undergraduate majors and certificates, and it uses the commencement tassels to distinguish the undergraduates’ specific schools or colleges.

For the majority of schools and colleges have one color for undergraduates, including: the College of Engineering (orange), CALS (maize), Wisconsin School of Business (sapphire), School of Pharmacy (olive), School of Nursing (apricot), School of Human Ecology (maroon), and the School of Medicine and Public Health (green). The College of Letters & Science (L&S) and the School of Education are the only campus units that use multiple tassel colors to denote their varied major offerings. L&S has six: yellow (applied mathematics, physics, and engineering), white (humanities), golden yellow (chemistry and science majors), crimson (journalism), pink (music), and citron (social work). The School of Education has three colors: brown (art, fine arts, and art education), sage green (dance and kinesiology), and light blue (education and rehabilitation psychology). And, hold onto your caps, Badgers: graduates of advanced degree programs get black tassels and a hood that corresponds to the equivalent undergraduate color. Graduate programs without an equivalent undergraduate major get to add another color to the ever-growing graduation rainbow.