The caps, gowns and hoods (academic attire) worn at college and
university functions date back to the Middle Ages. Monks and
students of those days wore them to keep warm in the damp and
drafty 12th century castles and halls of learning.
The gown for the bachelor's degree has a semi-stiff yoke, long
pleated front and intricate shirring across the shoulders and back.
It is primarily distinguished by its long pointed sleeves.
The holder of a a master's degree wears a gown with the same
yoke effect of the bachelor's. The gown, however, is worn open, and
the very long sleeve is squared and closed at the end, the forearm
coming through a slit near the elbow.
The gown for the doctor's degree is also worn open; it has broad
velvet panels down the front and three velvet bars on the large,
bell-like sleeves. This velvet trimming may be either black or the
color distinctive of the field of learning to which the degree
Generally, all caps may be of serge or broadcloth. In addition,
doctor's caps may be of velvet and adorned by a gold tassel.
The hood gives color and distinction to the academic costume.
The hood - a black shell-like affair of varying size for the three
degrees and material to match the gown - is silk-lined stressing
the colors of the institution conferring the degree. The hood is
then bordered with velvet of the color signifying the respective
fields of learning.
The colors indicative of the various fields of learning are as
|Arts and Letters||White|
|Business Administration||Light Brown|
It is important to note that the field of learning having prior
mention in the conferment of a degree, and not the department
governing the major work, determines the color that is proper for
the velvet of the hood. The doctor of philosophy degree requires
the blue velvet irrespective of the major field. If more than one
degree is held, the gown and hood of the highest degree are
Some of the institutional colors to be seen at an academic
ceremony are as follows:
- Catholic University, lemon yellow with white chevron
- Columbia University, light blue with white chevron
- Fordham University, maroon
- Harvard University, crimson
- Manhattan College, white with emerald green chevron
- New York University, violet
- St. John's University, bright red with white chevron