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DNP Discussions

Graduation Regalia for DNPs

Published September 7, 2012 12:30 PM by Michael Zychowicz

Q: I've heard that some universities don't allow DNP graduates to wear the same graduation regalia as other doctorate degree graduates. What's the common practice for graduation regalia?

A: I have not heard of schools "not allowing" DNP graduates to wear the same regalia as PhD graduates. In my humble opinion, this is unfortunate if there is even a perception of inferiority for the DNP or inequity as a terminal degree. It has been my limited experience that schools across a specific campus have the same cap and gown but with varying hoods reflective of the specific school. When I graduated from Case Western, the DNP students had the same cap and gown as the PhD students.

I would be curious to hear from readers who have heard or seen this to be true.

Editor's note: At the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and answer them as best we can. This post is written by blogger Michael Zychowicz, DNP, ANP-C, ONP-C, FAANP, chairman for master's programs at Duke University School of Nursing. Comment below to discuss this topic, or send new questions to

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DNP students do have their own regalia specific for nursing to wear in the graduation ceremonies.  PhD students from all disciplines traditionally wear "PhD Blue".  DNP students and others who graduate with a practice doctorate will wear their discipline-specific colors.  For example, the DNP will have an apricot color, doctor of musical arts is pink, law is purple and othe disciplines will have their own.  The gown itself will have the velvet panels on the sleeves and around the neck running down the front.  

There have been recent trends in the past few years to have schools differentiate themselves with robe colors, and velvet colors to be institution specific.  For example, my university went with red velvet to reflect the school colors.  We certainly stood out!

Susan VanBeuge, Nurse Practitioner - Assistant Professor, UNLV September 25, 2012 10:03 AM
Las Vegas NV

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