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:

Arts, Letters, Humanities
Commerce, Accountancy, Business
Light Blue
Fine Arts, including Architecture
Forestry, Environmental Studies, Sustainability
Library Science
Oratory (Speech)
Silver Gray
Olive Green
Philosophy, Political Science
Dark Blue
Physical Education
Sage Green
Public Administration, including Foreign Service
Peacock Blue
Public Health
Salmon Pink
Golden Yellow
Social Work
Theology, Divinity
Veterinary Science, Husbandry

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.

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Showing 1 - 22 of 22 Comments
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.
Ooh that's really interesting, thanks for sharing =]
What color do they use for color science?
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...
what if you have more than one PhD?
Awesome ..... what color do you get when you don't finish college?
one of the flunk shades...
When I got my degree in architecture our hoods were a pretty shade of lavender.
M. Arch
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
ahhh I love colour blogs!

clash of ideas
That's so interesting! My colour is called "Drab", lol. I guess it fits the field!
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.
What abot the famous Oxford course, Politics Philosophy and Economics? ;)
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!!
It's quite interesting, thanks for sharing.
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?
I find it humorous that accountancy is drab! I have an accounting degree...fitting;)
I think for engineering color should be metallic grey
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!
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?
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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