The Significance of the Academic Honor Stole

The Significance of the Academic Honor Stole

Melissa W.

Academic Honor Stoles: They stand out commencement ceremonies as one of the brightest accessories worn on a graduate, but what do they mean?

Stoles (sometimes referred to as a sash) have been a part of recognition-wear dating back to the 12th century when they were worn by Catholic priests indicating a specific rank in the church. Much like many aspects of graduation attire, the stole was adopted from the church as a regular symbol of honors regalia across the United States, showing up at commencement ceremonies from high schools to universities.

Similar to the significance of stoles in religious settings, academic stoles showcase prestigious students and those who are important members of school organizations. Typically, the stole clearly states in words or symbols what the student is being recognized for, which is different from its counterpart, the honor cord, that uses specific distinguishing colors in a sometimes less bold form. Stoles come in many colors, though gold is the most popular. Typical titles seen on academic stoles include:

  • Honor
  • President
  • Vice President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Valedictorian
  • Salutatorian

While some schools only reserve the use of stoles for class officers or top-ranked students, others open up the chance for campus organizations, particularly fraternities and sororities, to showcase their members and the achievements they’ve made during their academic careers. Stoles are worn laying flat around the graduate’s shoulders and can complement other academic recognition gear like cords and medallions.

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Cover Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

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