Commencement is the one day of the year when faculty and students cosplay as residents of Hogwarts.
Clad in multi-color vestments, ornate sashes, golden ropes and even glorious berets, it’s easy to see why so many masters and doctoral graduates pursue their degrees. In the realm of commencement fashion, the more you learn, the more color and flair you’re allowed to showcase.
In the realm of commencement fashion, the more you learn, the more color and flair you’re allowed to showcase.”
For undergraduates, we have the simple mortarboard, tassel and gown. The mortarboard cap was, up until very recently, accented only with a dangling tassel. Times have changed drastically in the past five years, as far as cap decoration goes. Now it’s standard to include, at the very least, bedazzled words of encouragement to parents, friends and debt collectors atop a student’s head.
Remember, undergraduates wear tassels on the right side of caps at the beginning of ceremonies. After students are pronounced graduates, tassels are moved to the left side of the cap.
From the commencement garb’s humble beginnings, traced back to the robes worn by medieval monks, we now have a standardized code of academic dress authorized by the American Council on Education. Because of this code, we can look at commencements and know the wearer’s study discipline, degree level and even the institution from which he or she is graduating.
How To Dress For Academic Success
According to the Academic Costume Code, a bachelor’s gown is worn closed with long, pointed sleeves. A master’s gown is worn open, with long sleeves cut to hang away from the forearm in an oblong shape. Doctor’s gowns can be worn open or closed and may be trimmed with wide velvet panels running down the gown’s front, and velvet bars on the sleeves. The velvet can be black or the color of the wearer’s study discipline.
Hoods are lined in the college or university’s color, and bordered with a color that indicates the wearer’s degree. In the case of the Ph.D., the dark blue color is used to represent the mastery of the discipline of learning and scholarship in any field that is attested to by the awarding of this degree.
Here are the colors associated with degrees or study disciplines:
Agriculture — Maize • Medicine — Green • Arts, Letters, Humanities — White • Music — Pink • Commerce, Accountancy — Drab • Nursing — Apricot • Business — Drab • Oratory (Speech) — Silver Gray • Dentistry — Lilac • Pharmacy — Olive Green • Economics — Copper • Philosophy — Dark Blue • Education — Light Blue • Physical Education — Sage Green • Engineering — Orange • Public Administration — Peacock Blue • Fine Arts — Brown • Public Health — Salmon Pink • Forestry — Russet • Science — Golden Yellow • Journalism — Crimson • Social Work — Citron • Law — Purple • Theology — Scarlet • Library Science — Lemon • Veterinary Science — Gray