In a growing trend nationwide, more and more college graduates are transforming their traditional square academic caps into statement pieces that inspire, celebrate, show appreciation and even draw attention for the seemingly quirky items adhered to its top.

Referred to as a mortarboard because of its resemblance to a tool used by bricklayers, the square graduation cap is believed to have originated in the 11th-century and has remained part of the traditional graduation attire. Today, the cap offers a creative opportunity for graduates to personalize their academic regalia.



At CSUSM’s four ceremonies on May 18 and 19, some mortarboards were playful and featured action figures, Legos and even stuffed animals affixed to the hat; others gave insight to future careers, like becoming a teacher, nurse, lawyer or Disney Studios employee. Some served to encapsulate the emotion on the milestone with a “Woo-hoo” and “Finally” inscribed on the cap, while others gave thanks to those that supported the graduate on their journey to obtaining their degree. Some even became a billboard for employment, declaring the words “Hire Me.”

Referred to as a mortarboard because of its resemblance to a tool used by bricklayers, the square graduation cap is believed to have originated in the 11th-century and has remained part of the traditional graduation attire. Today, the cap offers a creative opportunity for graduates to personalize their academic regalia.