Skip to main content

Academic Regalia

The tradition of wearing caps, gowns, and hoods as attire in formal academic processions and ceremonies extends back to practices in medieval Europe, when most scholars were affiliated with monastic orders. Academic regalia are based on the ecclesiastical dress of that period and were adapted to indicate levels of education by English universities in the 14th century.

Although European academic institutions developed a diversity of styles and designs for their regalia, most US colleges and universities adhere to a uniform code for academic dress, originally drafted by an intercollegiate commission in 1895, which regulates the materials and style of the regalia and prescribes colors representing different fields of learning. Most recently revised in 1986, the Academic Costume Code differentiates the attire of holders of the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctor’s degrees, with doctoral dress being the most elaborate.

Select Colors of the Academic Costume Code

  • Arts, Letters, Humanities: White
  • Business: Drab
  • Economics: Copper
  • Education: Light Blue
  • Engineering: Orange
  • Fine Arts: Brown
  • Journalism: Crimson
  • Law: Purple
  • Medicine: Green
  • Music: Pink
  • Oratory: Silver Gray
  • Philosophy: Dark Blue
  • Public Health: Salmon Pink
  • Science: Golden Yellow

The President’s Robe

The president’s robe is based on the traditional purple doctoral gown of Northwestern University. The sleeves are trimmed with four black velvet chevrons outlined in gold braid. The hood is lined with purple satin bordered in gold.