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Honor Cord Color Meanings

Honor chords are traditionally worn at high school, college, and university graduation ceremonies. Cords are given to students to signify a level of achievement in various academic and extra-curricular activities.

Many collegiate fraternities and societies also give their members cords to signify their involvement in the organization. Honor cords come in several different colors and each color is used to represent a different achievement. All schools have their own set of cord colors that they use; however there are some common colors that are typically used to signify success in a specific area of study.


Gold and/or yellow honor cords are one of the more popular colors you will likely see at a graduation. These cords may awarded to those with outstanding grade point averages (GPA), National Honor Society graduates, and other similar high-achievement situations.


Traditionally, black cords are given to students graduating with a degree in: business administration, commerce, business education, accounting, labor relations, or commercial science.


Red honor cords are used to signify graduation from the disciplines of: divinity, public health, journalism, canon law, conservation, and music.


Honor cords in shades of silver or grey are most often awarded to students graduating with degrees in medical science, such as: chiropractic, speech, oratory, and veterinary science.

This color is used often in graduating ceremonies from faculties of medicine as well; however honor societies use this color of cord to depict graduation from faculties such as: physics, agriculture and business management.


Purple, the color most often worn to depict royalty is used for honor cords awarded to dental and law students. Purple is also awarded to student's graduation with a degree in architecture and urban planning.


Honor cords in maroon are used to represent achievement in similar faculties as red honor cords. A degree in forestry and theology is often depicted with maroon cords.

Honor cords given out by societies and fraternizes vary widely in color. Each school and fraternity has their own set of colors that they use and it is always best to double check with whatever body you are awarded from and what colors they have chosen for the cords.

Color has been used to depict achievements and accolades for centuries, and when you graduate, your success will be given a color too. Now you just need to figure out what the color of your success will be!