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Pride and Traditions

Commencement Regalia

The gowns, caps, and hoods worn at university functions date back to the early days of universities in the Middle Ages. Monks and students wore them to keep warm in the damp and drafty 12th century halls of learning. This traditional academic dress has been gradually revised to the modern form seen today.

All gowns have a semi-stiff yoke, long pleated front, and intricate shirring across the shoulders and back. The bachelor’s gown reaches about 8 to 10 inches from the floor and has long sleeves from which the arms extend at the wrist. The specialist and master’s gown has long, pointed sleeves closed at the end, the forearm coming through a slit near the elbow, with the flowing sleeve extending down the thigh. The doctor’s gown is distinguished by broad velvet panels down the front and by three velvet bars on the full bell-shaped sleeves. This velvet trimming may be either black or dark blue.

The black cap with maroon and gold tassel is worn by the holders of specialist, master’s, and bachelor's degrees; the black velvet tam with gold tassel is worn by holders of doctoral degrees.

The hood (not usually worn by the holders of the bachelor’s degree) is a black shell, silk-lined in the color or colors of the institution conferring the degree. The colors of Texas State University are shown by a maroon lining crossed with a gold chevron. The velvet border of the hood is the color signifying the field of learning in which the degree was earned and not the department in which the major was completed. Thus, a degree conferred as master of education with a major in physical education requires the light blue of education rather than the sage of physical education. Similarly, the doctor of philosophy degree requires the dark blue of philosophy, not the color of the department in which the major of study was completed.

Colors signifying various fields of study that you may see today include:

Agriculture Maize
Arts, Letters, Humanities White
Commerce, Accountancy, Business Drab
Criminal Justice, Law Purple
Economics Copper
Education Light Blue
Engineering Orange
Fine Arts Brown
Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Sage
Journalism Crimson
Music Pink
Nursing Apricot
Oratory (Speech) Silver Grey
Philosophy Dark Blue
Physical Therapy Teal
Public Administration, Educational Leadership,
   Foreign Service
Public Health Salmon Pink
Science Gold
Social Work Citron
Sustainability Russet


Texas State Tassel

Tassel turning is a time-honored tradition at commencement ceremonies. Specialist, master’s, and bachelor's candidates wear a maroon and gold tassel adorned with a gold charm displaying the year of graduation. Doctoral candidates wear a solid gold tassel.

After diploma presentations, candidates are instructed to move their tassels from the right side of their cap to the left, signifying the completion of their degree at Texas State University.

Cords, Stoles, and Medallions

Cords, stoles, and medallions are worn around the neck of graduates, signifying academic honors or other achievements and affiliations. Cords are made of braided nylon in a variety of colors. Stoles are panels of silk that can be embroidered with letters or symbols. Medallions are made of metal or glass-like material and hang on colored ribbon.

Some items that you may see today include:

Maroon and gold cords, solid Academic Honors
Maroon and gold cords, braided Athlete
Red, white, and blue cords, braided Veteran, United States of America
Crystal medallion, maroon and gold ribbon Honors College


Texas State Official Ring

The Texas State Official Class Ring is a lifelong representation of Texas State pride. The symbols on the ring capture the essence of Texas State.

Class ring significance

Custom crafted for Texas State, the design of the Official Ring is based upon our revered heritage and culture. Centered on the top of the Official Ring is a Texas “lone-star” set upon an oak and laurel leaf wreath. As an option, the star can be highlighted with a cubic zirconia or diamond. Around the crown of the ring, the Texas State University name and 1899 founding date are spelled out.

The left side of the ring features Texas State’s original campus building, the red-gable roofed Old Main, with “tubers” floating by on the steady flow of the San Marcos River. San Marcos gave birth to the university by giving it Chautauqua Hill-the hill where Old Main opened its doors in 1903. Since the late 1800s, people traveled from miles around to Chautauqua Hill to meet. Today, Old Main is the focal point of campus, perched above the “Quad” which is still the central gathering place for students.

How to wear your ring

Before graduation: wear your ring facing in, so that when you look down at your hand you can read Texas State University.

At graduation: after you receive your diploma, turn your ring around so that the words Texas State University now face out, displaying your pride to the world.

Ceremonial Mace

Texas State ceremonial mace

The use of a mace during university graduation ceremonies combines symbolic communication with the principle of vested authority at the most traditional and sacred of academic celebrations. The Texas State University ceremonial mace is made of cherrywood adorned with gold-plated brass accents. Atop the mace is the university seal, displayed on gold-plated bronze medals on both sides of a cherrywood disk. Beneath the seal, a cherrywood cylinder bears four 24-karat gold-plated bronze medals, engraved with the words auctoritas, gravitas, humanitas, and veritas. These words originated in antiquity and represent our shared academic values:

Auctoritas: The sense of one’s standing gained through experience, industriousness, and service to others

Gravitas: A sense of dignity, seriousness, and duty

Humanitas: An appreciation for refinement, civilization, and learning

Veritas: Truthfulness

The mace adds meaning and dignity to the commencement ritual. It reminds both participants and spectators that education is one of the most cherished attributes of a free and democratic society.

Texas State Ceremonial Brass

Ceremonial brass member playing french horn in front of stage

Ceremonial Brass, a student ensemble, performs for all Texas State commencement ceremonies each year. It is comprised of top brass and percussion students in the School of Music, conducted by music faculty such as Director of Bands Dr. Caroline C. Beatty, Associate Director of Bands Dr. Kyle R. Glaser, Associate Director of Choral Activities Dr. Jonathan Babcock, and Symphony Orchestra Director Dr. Jacob G. Harrison.

The commencement ceremonies feature a composition created especially for the Texas State Ceremonial Brass. Big and Bright was composed by Master of Music graduate Joshua M. Cavazos, a composer, pianist, educator, and church musician from San Antonio, Texas. He studied composition with Dr. Michael Ippolito and orchestration and arranging with Dr. Thomas S. Clark. Mr. Cavazos' diverse musical background includes composing four CD projects of instrumental piano music, teaching music in the public school system, and performing at various venues in South Texas.

The Texas State School of Music’s wind and percussion ensembles have won national recognition and appeared at such distinguished festivals and conventions as the Texas Music Educators Association in San Antonio and the College Band Directors National Association.

The Ceremonial Brass is one ensemble of many offered by the School of Music, including choirs, wind ensembles, symphony orchestra, mariachi, salsa bands, jazz bands, opera theater, modern music, percussion, steel drums, flute choir, trombone choir, horn choir, drumline, and, of course, Bobcat Marching Band! Though many ensemble members are music majors, many also come from a variety of disciplines across the entire campus, especially for the marching band. Texas State music ensembles have performed across the U.S. and abroad, in South Africa, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Czech Republic, Mexico, Chile, China, and The Netherlands.

The School of Music offers a busy lineup of concerts for the public, frequently including acclaimed guest artists. The Somos Músicos concert series is designed for music students to perform for each other in a supportive, informal setting. Reaching beyond the idea of a learning laboratory, “Somos Músicos” (“We are Musicians”) has become a motto for the entire school, expressing a collective passion for making music together.

Alumni can keep up with Texas State Music on Facebook (Texas State University-School of Music), Twitter (@txstmusic), or on the Web at