The Colors of Your College Degree

The Colors of Your College Degree


The history of academic dress goes back hundreds of years to the chill universities where cap, gown and hood were needed for covering and warmth.

In 1321, the University of Coimbra mandated that all Doctors, Bachelors, and Licentiates must wear gowns. In the latter half of the 14th century, excess in apparel was forbidden in some colleges and prescribed wearing a long gown. By the time of England's Henry VIII, Oxford and Cambridge began using a standard form of academic dress, which was controlled to the tiniest detail by the university.

Graduation Hood ColorNot until the late 1800s were colors assigned to signify certain areas of study, but they were only standardized in the United States. European institutions have always had diversity in their academic dress, but American institutions employ a definite system of dress thanks to Gardner Cotrell Leonard from Albany, New York. After designing gowns for his 1887 class at Williams College, he took an interest in the subject and published an article on academic dress in 1893. Soon after he was asked to work with an Intercollegiate Commission to form a system of academic apparel.

The system Gardner Cotrell Leonard helped form was based on gown cut, style and fabric; as well as designated colors to represent fields of study.

For example, sleeves in the bachelor's gown are pointed, in the masters gown they are oblong and the arms project at the elbow, and in the doctor's gown they are bell shaped. Only the doctor's gown has velvet facing. The hood is lined with the official colors of the degree issuing institution and the outside trimming of the hood signifies the subject in which the degree was obtained:

Agriculture
Maize
Arts, Letters, Humanities
White
Commerce, Accountancy, Business
Drab
Dentistry
Lilac
Economics
Copper
Education
Light Blue
Engineering
Orange
Fine Arts, including Architecture
Brown
Forestry, Environmental Studies, Sustainability
Russet
Journalism
Crimson
Law
Purple
Library Science
Lemon
Medicine
Green
Music
Pink
Nursing
Apricot
Oratory (Speech)
Silver Gray
Pharmacy
Olive Green
Philosophy, Political Science
Dark Blue
Physical Education
Sage Green
Public Administration, including Foreign Service
Peacock Blue
Public Health
Salmon Pink
Science
Golden Yellow
Social Work
Citron
Theology, Divinity
Scarlet
Veterinary Science, Husbandry
Gray

For more about the history and guidelines from academic ceremony costumes, check out An Academic Costume Code and An Academic Ceremony Guide by the American Council on Education.

Are you ready to graduate and take on the world? If you've enjoyed this article and are looking for some college-related fonts and templates, check out Creative Market for some awesome downloads.

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22 Comments
Showing 1 - 22 of 22 Comments

tr67

I think Math is yellow, too. It goes w/science. Although it'd be fun to design a new color for math based on a specific equation or famous constants.

dramatique

Ooh that's really interesting, thanks for sharing =]

retsof

What color do they use for color science?

tenkerasu

colour science should be all of the above! and it should also confuse the hell out of anyone going in it! sorry, kidding. it should be some sort of red, i feel...

kwilliaa

what if you have more than one PhD?
Team

PureForm

Awesome ..... what color do you get when you don't finish college?

retsof

one of the flunk shades...
Flunk

retsof

In addition to colors, the University of Texas has 40 maces carried in the ceremonies (trial by battle?)

http://www.texasexes.org/news/recent_news.asp?id=176

bunigrl33

When I got my degree in architecture our hoods were a pretty shade of lavender.
M. Arch

codename_gimmick

I'm rather surprised that the U.S. would carry the banner for nationally standardized academic apparel-- many universities in this country seem to suffer from a stigmatic sense of individualism that makes them seem distant even from the rest of academia at times.

Golden yellow marches on! :-p

paperclipofperil

ahhh I love colour blogs!

clash of ideas

koala988

That's so interesting! My colour is called "Drab", lol. I guess it fits the field!

bobthemole

When I was choosing between two equally good universities for graduate school, I used the colors of their regalia as one of the final determining factors.

It seems a trivial thing, but since I plan to go into academia I hope to wear my colors a LOT over my lifetime. And I just couldn't bear to pick the ugly green-and-black gown when that gorgeous russet-and-rust was calling out to me.

Anastasia

What abot the famous Oxford course, Politics Philosophy and Economics? ;)

Consanguine

Surely the colour for Colour Science should be white [all the colours of light together, and brown [all the pigment colours together]? My Doctoral robes make people look like a Macaw - scarlet and green - with unfortunate invocations of parrot-fashion learning!!

valcanno

It's quite interesting, thanks for sharing.

bi-gender crab

Ahh, now I want to know what mine will be! I'm dual majoring in Computer Science & Math...Neither of which, weirdly, is on this post. Anyone know?

jayburgess

I find it humorous that accountancy is drab! I have an accounting degree...fitting;)

NYC Web Design

I think for engineering color should be metallic grey

Carrie-san

Ooh. I go to an art/design school, so we probably don't have robes like that, eh? I sort of wish we did, though - that kind of customization is nifty. I wonder what color the graphic design degrees at the other universities I looked at were... Now I want to go find out, and see what colors my friends are going to be wearing!

ShiniMaxwell1327

I'm working on a second degree in Computer Information Science - Programming. I didn't see a color for that.... Hmmm... I wonder what color that would be?

enelram0912

somebody knows color for a Manager Hotel Restaurant? I'm french and we don't wear robes of graduation in France :(, and we're a group that we will buy in the states ours robes and everything to our future graduation next year 2011, somebody can help me, or explain to me, what we should do, and where we can buy it? thank you ! Betty

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