College Graduation Garb Explained
College graduates wear some unique and impressive duds for their graduation ceremonies. Caps, gowns, tassels, and hoods all can be seen parading down the center aisle before making proud appearances at diploma presentations.
Graduation clothing, also known as academic dress, dates back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Clerical garb was standard dress for professors and scholars, as many students during medieval times made certain religious vows in addition to pursuing their educations. Today, faculty, graduates and alumni don such gowns during graduation ceremonies in a nod to tradition.
The color and cut of graduation attire may signify different fields of study and levels of education. Colors and styles may differ depending on the country. Americans follow the guidance adopted by the American Council on Education, whose standards have been reviewed and revised a handful of times through the decades. Some schools incorporate their own unique twists as well.
In the United States, gowns worn by students receiving their bachelor’s and master’s degrees often tie into the representative school’s colors. Doctoral gowns are typically black, and robes are designed to be worn closed.
Hoods are scarf-like accessories that represent the subjects students studied and the type of degree they earned, according to the code established by the American Council on Education. The shell material of the hood will match the robe and may be lined with the school’s colors. The outer edge of the hood is trimmed in a color that represents the student’s field of study.
The colors that represent the various fields of study have been largely standardized in the United States by the Intercollegiate Bureau of Academic Costume. For example, pharmacy is olive green and economics is copper, while the sciences are represented by golden yellow.
The caps, or mortarboards with tassels, are also components of graduation dress. Mortarboards usually coordinate with the color of the gown. Tassels are traditionally black, but school colors and gold for doctorate graduates may also be worn.
Graduates are often advised to wear dark-colored and inconspicuous apparel under their academic dress so that it blends and does not distract attention from graduation garb.
More information on academic dress is available through the American Council on Education at www.acenet.edu.