Academic Dress

The history of academic dress dates back to the Middle Ages when many of the scholars were also clerics and wore the costume of the monastic orders. In 1321, the University of Cambridge adopted specific styles and color combinations for its faculties. American colleges and universities desired to adopt a standard code of academic dress, and at a conference held at Columbia University in 1895, representatives from various institutions adopted a code and regulations governing academic dress for colleges and universities in the United States. The standards continue to be followed by the American Council on Education.

The costumes worn today are all traditional and their colors, trimmings, and patterns interpret the degree, the field of learning, and the institution that conferred the degree. The bachelor’s gown has long pointed sleeves and is designed to be worn closed; the master’s gown has an oblong sleeve open at the wrist. The rear part of its oblong shape is square cut and the front part has an arc cut away. The doctor’s gown has bell-shaped sleeves, is faced with velvet and has three bars across the sleeves. The color of the velvet is distinctive of the degree.

The hood tells the story. The type of degree (bachelor’s, master’s, doctor’s) is indicated by the width of the velvet edging and the length of the hood, the doctor’s hood being the longest and of fuller shape than the others. The color of the velvet edging denotes the field of learning and the colors of the lining denote the school which conferred the degree. The color of the tassel, worn on the left side of the mortarboard, also indicates the field of study and is gold for those with doctor’s degrees. The colors you will see today in the hoods and gowns of our faculty represent the various fields of learning:

  • White: Arts,Letters and Humanities
  • Drab: Business Administration
  • Light blue: Education
  • Orange: Engineering
  • Brown: Fine Arts
  • Purple: Law
  • Lemon yellow: Library Science
  • Pink: Music
  • Apricot: Nursing
  • Dark blue: Philosophy
  • Golden yellow: Science
  • Scarlet: Theology